Of course, in many ways you could say that about any year. That is, so long as you approached each with an attitude of being ready for whatever comes next, ready to put it all on the table at a moment's notice and constantly working to improve, according to the standards of the most important person involved in the decision making process … oneself. Not that people outside of yourself don't matter of course, be they loved ones or otherwise, but once things are going two hundred miles an hour in a 20 mile an hour zone, there can be no room for indecision, and basically there is only one person to make those decisions – you.
But of course for me, just like everyone else, there are people in my life I do and have taken advice from, like relatives and close friends, and I count on their words and counsel. I count on the words of the people that raised me, and that I grew up with to guide me as I travel through life. But, most of all, it's myself that I count on to be there, as no matter what all other faces will be there or not, this one will. Don't know what life would be without me there, but of course it wouldn't be this (lol!), and I like and enjoy what's going on in my life and what I have planned.
There is so much to be thankful for in life, and for me part of that is learning new things via new experiences, be they big, or be they small. Sometimes, the best learning can come from the most painful experiences. Whatever you may be going through, have gone through or are going through, life always has the potential for improvement; it just takes work, perseverance and maintaining faith in yourself, even when life gets seemingly too tough. It really never is. We're all born, we all die, you can't fail at that, so how can it be?
Though 2012 has been a year I can honestly say went as I had hoped and ended so, like everybody else, I've had very tough years and harsh periods of struggle. I've had times when I didn't know how I was going to get through the next day, though I knew somehow I had to. When I was at the University of Connecticut at their Landscape Architecture degree program, for example, I went through harassment based on primarily on my race.
One of the main people involved in this harassment was named Ed, and not only was he involved in the harassment, but as I was to learn towards the end of my time at the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Connecticut, he had even been involved in planning some of the harassing behavior directed at me. What was worse, he had been pretending to be my friend for a period of time, previous to my learning about his true level of involvement in the harassment of myself during that time period.
He was not the only person involved, of course. In fact, there were a good number of other folks involved, relative to the size of my graduating class, anyway. He was symbolic of the harassment and how, in some ways, moment to moment, day to day, week to week, month to month, things at the University of Connecticut's Landscape Architecture program could shift and change at a moment's notice. It had nothing to do with me in anyway. I had tried to change my behavior in many ways, you name it.
The harassment kept happening, kept getting more coordinated and kept getting more sophisticated. They didn't like me, due to them thinking I was some Taliban terrorist or whatever and wanted me out. However, they were afraid of getting caught at what they were doing – as it is illegal. So they set out to create what was essentially a hostile environment with the hopes that I would quit due to the stress, flunk due to the stress or react out of anger and get myself kicked out due to the stress.
What I did, after fretting, complaining to people I knew outside of school and trying to ignore it, was to decide upon a course of action. I could have reported the behavior to the head of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources or a specific department within the school meant to deal with harassment, but there were two professors involved and numerous students. It would be their word against mine, and I would lose my scholarship if I had to leave. I was concerned that I would be kicked out if their many testimonies against my sole testimony won out – sounds crazy I know, but there are reasons.
I took to watching what they did, the strategies they used against me, and developing my own counter strategies to deal with them. My goal was not to hurt them as they wanted to hurt me, or to get any of them out of the program. The idea was to get myself through to the other side. I just wanted that diploma, so I could go on with my life and put the University of Connecticut's Landscape Architecture program behind me.
It was not easy, but every day, every new counter strategy, I sought to improve my abilities and get better at what I was doing. I wanted to find a way to graduate. In the end, that's just what I did.
No matter how hard they tried, they were never successful in getting me out of the program. I was not perfect and I'm no genius in any way. I have no special talents or skills whatsoever, and am about average for a state school academically, I tried of course, but that's where it is. I knew I had a future in Landscape Architecture, however, and wanted it. First, I had to graduate.
In the end, no matter how strong Ed, or anyone like him, seemed and how difficult and insurmountable the odds, I graduated. On graduation day at UConn 2006 I watched the commencement speech and got to look in their faces with diploma in hand. I write now at the end of 2012 going into 2013, as proof that hard times are nothing more than puzzles to solve for the most part. They are just challenges to overcome. Never stop and let your voice be heard, and let those trying to stop you know, they just don't have what it takes. Not because of them, but because of you. Happy New Year, and to those persevering through their own set of harsh times, good luck! :D
To read about my inspiration for this article go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.