The Power Of Geography Over Destiny By Benjamin U. Nwosu, Jr.

Imagine living your life knowing what you could have done differently. Having the weight of a dream that you could have made a reality, but because you did not see what you could have done you never believed in yourself. Imagine having the 1 billion percent chance to have 1 billion dollars but you failed to see that for yourself. That’s what we call stamping our potential. People stamp their potential for one or two reasons: self-doubt or just being too scared to try. But does geography play a role too?

People easily forget that some people never had that same potential that they have. I remember when I went to Barbados in 2021 with my family. My father and I went to explore the resort that we were on. In that resort, we saw two construction workers from Barbados working on assembling something for the resort. And in my mind, I felt partially bad for them and partially not bad for them. The reason is that at that moment I believed that they did not work hard enough to reach their goals in life. But my father, who is one of the smartest people I know, corrected me. My father went on to say that “people may look down on these people who are working on a construction, however, people do not realize that they probably never had the same shot as they did. Their potential was probably condensed at a young age, probably supporting his mother and his family.” I did not know if my father was right about them, but I do know where he came from. My father had very humble beginnings. He grew up in Enugu, Nigeria, in a poor village area. There were two different worlds for him. The people in the city who could afford the best education. And the people in the village who had to work twice as hard. My father however had a gift for education. He always came top of his class and never felt bad for his circumstances. He just kept trying. He then started beating even some of those richer kids just from sheer hard work. The teachers would push the students to try to get to his caliber. He then caught the attention of my uncle who had enough money to send him to school in America and he didn’t disappoint there. He then went on to become a doctor and he is now one of the best endocrinologists in the world. That is the definition of maximizing your potential. My dad had all the reasons to say that he couldn’t do it and that would have stamped his potential and I probably wouldn’t be able to give you this STORY TALK right now. So, I now realize why my father had so much empathy for those employees. At that moment, I looked at them, and then looked at myself, and realized how different our lives were.

 They grew up in the Third World country of Barbados, while I was in America. Probably where they both dreamed of going, and that was my starting point! So, I have learned to cherish the opportunities that have been handed to me. In my darkest hours, I remember those people who do not have the same opportunities as me and it pushes me further. It pushes me to never waste what I was given in life. And if I can get to a high enough place where I could give back to those people I would. However, the fact that I had a better opportunity than they did does not make me a better person than they are. Neither does it make me a bad person.

I remember seeing students from my former school, whom I used to be friends with, turn into people I don’t even recognize anymore because they turned into fully different people. Not for themselves, but for the approval of others. They started to smoke and drink to impress their friends or just started becoming something they were not. They started to lose ambition and life and just simply gave up on themselves. And as I started to move to a new school called Worcester Academy, I heard them talking about me out of jealousy. It was as if they wanted everybody to stoop to their level. Or maybe they just did not want anyone to succeed in general. Still, I believe that it was not their fault that they turned out that way, but it was the environment they were surrounded in.  I always believed that I could maybe change them or that it was just a passing phase. I just now came to realize that was me just making excuses for them.  However, I still wish all of them the best in whatever they do. Or that’s just me still holding out hope for them. In the end, I realized that those people came from smaller bubbles than I did. Not physically, but mentally. If they had someone who could have told them about what they were doing they could have changed their outlook on life.

So, if you have the slightest idea or chance that you believe will make a difference, you should take the opportunity you have head-on. It’s better to do that than to go back and ask yourself, what you could have done better. If my father, who grew up in a Third World country, could come to America and succeed, then you also have the same opportunity to change your whole life. Never stamp your potential, never lower your standards for someone else and never doubt yourself. It’s all in your mind and your mind will control you. If you have an idea, share it. Just know that trying is better than living a life of asking yourself what you could have done.

Thank you,

Benjamin U. Nwosu, Jr,

8th Grader, Worcester Academy


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