Less Money, More Memories

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

It was as though Medusa had looked me straight in the eye. I saw my mother’s lips moving, but all I could hear was the turbulent rhythm of my heavy heart. I clutched my fork tighter in my fist and disappeared, desperately figuring out how to turn back the hands of time.

My father uttered my name and brought me back down to Earth, “It just makes sense Abia.”

Hours before, my mother had received a call— a job offer to work in a hospital. It seemed perfect. However, there was a catch, as always: we would have to move to Long Island, away from my school, my friends, and my childhood. Although I was starting to prepare for my junior year and getting more involved in the school community, I would’ve hated to break my mother’s heart. “We’ll visit often dear,” my parents reassured me, “and plus you won’t have to share a room with your sister anymore.” I obliged happily, considering my parent’s risks in this decision, yet I still had hope that maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t have to leave.

After months of denial, I stood in front of my family’s new castle, grand yet spiritless. I reminisced about the cacophonous streets of New York. I couldn’t hear the piercing police sirens, the blaring horns, the boisterous crowds. This was not my concrete jungle; it was a suburban desert.

The days in my new school were reasonable. Everyone I met treated me with kindness, but I could not help but feel alone. I simply missed how everything used to be. I even started to miss sharing a room with my irritating younger sister. I realized I had always taken for granted the effect of companionship on my own mental health. After sitting alone for weeks in a cafeteria filled with laughter and conversation, I started to pass time by recounting memories. I could not forget my Staten Island circle. Eventually, I concluded that the secret to understanding the real value of friendship is not found in the complexity, but the simplicity of the bond. Even today… inside jokes, venting stress, and celebrating successes with close friends are some of the most priceless gifts I hold with me. Back at home, I was surprised to learn I was not alone in my feelings. My parents found it difficult to focus on relaxing and being happy after they came home from work as well; they also missed the convenience of close coworkers and relatives. After carefully outlining our financial situation over many weeks and feeling unusually distant from one another, my family decided to move back home.

I have yet to fully grasp the concepts of destiny and fate, but I am learning the value of coincidental situations. After being welcomed with a surprise party in my own home, I became even closer with friends who I had left behind for many months. We shared stories of happiness and of sadness through laughter and tears. Following that came a great improvement in my commitment to my schoolwork. I became even more involved in my community than I was before and continued my position in National Honor Society.

Today, I keep a memory box in my room. This box, filled with my “trivial” treasure, seems like a cardboard box of clutter to my parents, but to me, they are hand-cut diamonds in my box of riches. My friendships and my family are directly correlated to my happiness. From polaroids and movie tickets to restaurant receipts and old MetroCards, my memory box is a beautiful reminder of who I am and where I come from.

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