Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a motivational talk. As I finally settled in my seat, I discussed my background and career with an older woman that sat next to me. After exchanging small talk regarding the speaker, she told me that I didn’t look as if I was from Georgia and asked where I was from. Now normally, whenever I tell someone that I am from Gary, Indiana, I’ll receive 1 of 2 responses: 1. Their eyes will get big and they’ll spew out something to the effect of, “I’ve heard about, Gary. It’s dangerous there!” Or 2. “That’s where Michael Jackson was from!” The older woman stared at me for about two minutes and finally asked, “How did you escape not becoming a product of your environment?”
No one had ever asked me that before and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. This was primarily because I had a million reasons as to why although I am thankful and blessed for the environment that I was raised in, it wasn’t a place where I necessarily wanted to stay. After a long sigh, I looked at her and stated, “I never saw myself as only a product of my environment. I did know, however, that my environment would ultimately be a product of me.” She then gave me a warm smile and responded, “Absolutely!”
As I drove home that evening, I thought about our conversation. While I knew that my upbringing and those around me would influence my life in many ways, I also knew that I was the ultimate influence and deciding factor as to how my life story ends. Yes, we all are a product of our environment, to an extent, but our power lies in choosing the environment in which we decide how to operate our lives.
Where you wish to remain is always a matter of choice! One must make the choice to believe that where you come from doesn’t always determine where you are going! Never apologize for being a product of your environment. Instead, choose to be a product of purpose.