Whether we like it or not, where we are from has everything to do with whom we are. It is from our distinct corners of the earth that we first experience the world and learn what it is like to be a part of it. It would be a lie to say that growing up in Holbrook, Arizona was a world of happiness, wealth, and success. In reality, Holbrook is a small town with limited opportunities and well-paying jobs to offer its citizens. Yet, deeper than that, Holbrook is lessons in life, hard work, values, and character that could only be achieved through the ups and downs of life in small-town Arizona. It was the author Aldous Huxley who said, “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” The experiences that Holbrook gave me and the lessons that I took from these experiences have molded me into the man that I am today. Because of the things that I learned from my 18 years in Holbrook, I know who I am, where I’m coming from, and where I want to go.
There is no better place to learn the value of hard work than a blue-collar town like Holbrook, AZ. Like clockwork, every weekday at 5:30 am, my father would be up getting ready for another day of hard work at Cholla Power Plant. That routine continues to this day. He has never complained or asked for any sort of sympathy. This is what being an adult is about. This is what being a man is about. You don’t whine about what you don’t want to do. You get things done. The whole community reflected this attitude. Nothing in this life is going to be given to you for free, especially coming from a middle-class family in Holbrook, AZ. There is only one path to your goals and the things that you desire, and that path is uphill. If you want something, you must be willing to work for it. The output of your endeavors will always be equal to the energy and work that you put into them. These are the attitudes I will take with me as I work through my last years of undergraduate education and begin to approach medical school.
Growing up in Holbrook, you learn early on, that life is not fair. It is a hard concept to grasp. However, the quicker that you come to this conclusion, the quicker that you can come to understand that, although life is not fair, life is what you make it. Our task is not to complain about our plight, but to make our situation better. The world is an obstacle to be conquered. Hardship and setbacks are the challenges that teach us who we are deep down. We emerge from hardship with a greater sense of ourselves and a greater knowledge of what we are truly made of.
Likewise, Holbrook taught me that the world would not be given to me on a silver platter. Life in Holbrook is not all peaches and cream. Most people live pretty much paycheck to paycheck. Most families are not rich or socially well connected. You work for the things that you have and know that you must work even harder to get the things you desire. However, that is the beauty of things. No matter where we come from, wealth or adverse circumstances, we are all given the opportunity to make the best for ourselves. Through hard work and persistence, we can get everything we want. Holbrook taught me that the difference between the man that makes it and that man that doesn’t make it is simply about who is willing to work harder and longer to get what they want. It is not about who deserves it. It is about who wants it more. It is this sense of empowerment that pushes me to be the one that works harder and longer than anyone does.
In Holbrook, unlike most of the world, a great deal of emphasis was not put on material things or outward appearances. Instead of judging people, you take the time to understand them. In life, we encounter many different people, each with a unique experience and perspective to offer the world. You must learn to value a person for what is on the inside. When I look at someone, I don’t see the clothes they wear or the car they drive, I see them. This has helped me in my life since Holbrook. I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with many different people. In these interactions, I have always taken the time to hear someone’s story. Through this, I have seen many different perspectives and learned to value each of them for what they are worth. Everyone has a reason why they are the way they are and, undoubtedly, all people are worthy of respect.
More than anything, my upbringing in Holbrook has given me a sense of perspective. Holbrook is a land of tough circumstances. Among my friends and even within my own family, I witnessed the perils of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic violence. I can say proudly that I have found success despite adverse circumstances. Life is not always fair. Bad things can happen to good people, but you have no choice but to keep on going. I have experienced setbacks and hardships in my life. What matters is that I have overcome everything with a greater sense of toughness and resilience. The challenges and hard times have served to shape my character. I know who I am and where I come from. Because of this, I know where I am going. No matter what I face and what I must endure, my experiences have created the perspective that gives me the confidence to know that I will come out on top. No matter what the future may hold, I know that my goals will become a reality.
Although it may seem as if I had little positive to say about my hometown, I would not choose to be from anywhere else. Holbrook made me the man that I am today. Beyond the laughter and joyous memories that accompany most childhoods, my upbringing in Holbrook gave me a sense of reality that will always stick with me. I wouldn’t trade the upbringing that I had for riches or fame. The experiences that I had and the lessons that I learned are indispensable. More than molding and shaping my character, Holbrook gave me a toughness that will always be a part of me. No matter where I go or what I do in this lifetime, I will always be the same scrappy kid from Holbrook. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t be more proud.