I Defied The Odds
Christian Collum, Division 3, College sophomore #ws18e-s2d3

If I could go back to the past, I wouldn’t change anything. Not anything involving me, and not anything involving our planet’s history. Most importantly, I would never change anything that doesn’t involve me because I wouldn’t want to affect history too much and then reshape the universe and time as we know it today. In addition, if I had gone back into the past and changed some monumental part of our history for the better, there is a chance that neither you or I, or the billions of other people that inhabit this planet with us would ever be born, and I am not in favor of taking lives away from other people. Similarly, I also wouldn’t change my past at all. None of it. My past and the challenges I have had to overcome have played a significant role in molding me into the respectful, ethical, and hard-working young man that I am today. As lousy as these challenges and obstacles may have made me feel, and no matter how difficult they were to overcome, I don’t know who I would be today without. As a matter of fact, the unknown can be pretty frightening.

If I went back and changed the past then I probably would have never accomplished the two achievements of mine that are the most meaningful to me. The first, is overcoming homelessness at the young age of fifteen, and the second is the fact that I continued to have a positive attitude throughout everything I have been through and have overcame; even winning awards for the attitude I displayed throughout a period of my life where I constantly experienced great turmoil. These achievements of mine not only relate to my field of study, but they would relate to any field of study. Since I had to overcome challenges that most teenagers could have never imaged, there truly is nothing in the working world that can stop me from being successful in the workforce and becoming a positive addition to society.

For ten months I lived without a bed. No one knew. I was 16 years old. I was old enough to be able to keep up appearances. I still attended school and work; my clothes were clean and my homework was done. However, for ten long months I slept on a five-foot, torn-up leather couch in a 500-square-foot apartment that housed six people. Every night I would curl up my legs to squeeze onto the tacky and weathered sofa that was my bed, thankful that no one knew the truth.

It was January 1, 2014, 3:00 am; I was at my dad's house, sleeping in my queen-sized bed, the same bed that I had slept in for the past ten-years. I woke up to someone banging on my bedroom door, yelling at me. It was my dad, he was drunk. I was terrified; I didn't know what to do. He often became a monster when he drank and this was no exception. Do I call my mom? But what could she do? She was across town at her apartment with her boyfriend and three daughters. Do I call the police? I had never done this before because I was embarrassed. The neighbors would see the lights in my driveway, and the town would see it in the paper. I was lost.

I don't remember what he was screaming at me that night, but it was vulgar. He was trying to get in my room, but he couldn't. I barricaded my door earlier in the night with a fridge, desk chair, and bureau. I had a feeling this was going to happen. For the past two years my dad had been falling fast into the pit of addiction. He was drinking more than usual, and his habit morphed him from a devoted father into a selfish addict.

He began to ram into my door with his body; after two running starts he took my door off the hinges, and he was inside of my bedroom, screaming and sweating like a caged animal. He immediately began throwing furniture at me. I grabbed my phone and dialed 911. I was crying and terrified. As soon as my dad saw me on the phone with the police he stopped. He begged me to hang up. After what seemed like an eternity, blue and white lights screamed into my driveway. The police arrested my dad on domestic assault. That was the last time I saw my father and the last time my secret was intact.

I was forced to move out of the home I had grown up in; giving up my privacy and dignity in the process. But that's not all I lost, I also lost a bed. Some things in life you never truly appreciate until they are gone; I learned the hard way that a bed is one of them. I didn't realize how important it is. A bed gives one a sense of security. It is supposed to guarantee a safe night's sleep, wrapped in blankets and snuggled in its cotton sheets. With my father's arrest, that was all stripped from me. I was left exposed to the harsh realities of life that most teens don't know exist.

The ten months I spent sleeping on a torn-up leather couch stripped me of my innocence and transitioned me from childhood to adulthood. I have dealt with many obstacles in my life but this was the most difficult. But to this day, I make sure that I never think to myself: ""Why me?”

Two years later, my dad would get arrested again. But this time for his connection in a criminal network that distributed large amounts of heroin and fentanyl throughout the North Shore of Massachusetts. To this day, the weeks following my father’s second arrest are still the most embarrassing weeks of my life. While my friends worried about prom dates and social media likes, my reality was chaotic. The news of my father’s arrest was the lead story on the news, plastered on every newspaper, and trending on Facebook. The “North Shore Heroin Ring” was all anybody could talk about in my small suburban town.

The challenges I have faced throughout my short 20 years may have stripped me of my innocence at a young age, but it aided in my development from a boy to a man. I truly wouldn’t change any of it because I don’t know where I would be today without my difficult childhood. The obstacles that I was faced with humbled me, and I’m truly grateful for that. In 2016, I was honored by the Cape Ann Basketball League and awarded the ‘Kevin McCoy Award for Courage’ for the positive attitude I displayed throughout my period of hardship and in 2017, I was honored by Endicott College and awarded the ‘William Archibald ’84 Memorial Scholarship’ for “epitomizing a passion for sport business and the strength to overcome personal challenges with an infectious positive attitude.” These are two honors that I am beyond proud to have been bestowed upon me. It shows me that people from the outside looking in took note of the strength and perseverance I have showed throughout my youth.

I’ll say it one last time: I wouldn’t change anything. To others, it may seem like I have every reason in the world to want to change the past. But in reality, I have every reason in the world to NOT want to change the past.

There had to of been a collection of people that thought there was no chance I’d come out on the other side as the man that I am today. Some of the challenges I faced may have broken others. But they didn’t break me. After everything I have been through, I stand here today as a twenty-year-old college student with a 3.73 GPA, who is in the top 20% of his class, with two jobs, and the mindset that nothing can stop me from accomplishing my goals. I defied the odds.
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