Chapter 6: Trial by Fire

When I finally decided to straighten out my life, no one told me to beware of the impending rat race. I was paying more attention to the news, the bombardment of advertisements and subliminal messaging. The message was loud and clear: I wasn’t good enough unless I had this or that or acted a certain way. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I didn’t play sports. I was a known troublemaker. I was one of the dumb kids with no future prospects. I was a loner.

In an effort to repair my misguided image and make amends, I wanted to prove my worth by keeping my head in the books and achieving my first honor roll report card. I joined the basketball team and had a girlfriend shortly thereafter. Next, I needed money and a car and had no way of accessing either. I couldn’t add a job to my already hectic schedule since my foster mother had lost all hope for me by that point. Like everyone else, she was waiting for the other shoe to drop. In their minds, there was no way I could maintain this phony act.

Trial by Fire is an idiom meaning a test of one’s abilities under duress. It’s the ultimate life situation testing resiliency and character.   While I maintained the act and made success a habit, it didn’t come without a price. Due to what I thought society wanted from me, I unintentionally placed an unnatural amount of stress of myself to perform remarkably well in every aspect of my life. When I fell short of those goals, or things didn’t go my way, I felt betrayed. When I felt betrayed, I reverted back to the old me and made some careless mistakes. By normal accounts, this should have been the end of my story. If fate hadn’t intervened, I’d be in jail or dead. Instead, I landed on the A/B honor roll for the entire year and life continued. I hope you enjoy what I considered the most interesting chapter in the book, my Trial by Fire.

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