This piece is installment two in my series, “Nine Gems Extracted From Life Lessons


For many reasons, 2003 proved to be my most psychologically and emotionally challenging year for many reasons. It also proved to be the year that shifted my entire paradigm and outlook on life. I could use several moments as examples, but I’ll stick to one for now. The tipping point that led me down the path of depression and self-discovery was a break-in armed robbery. This moment was the most frightening and awakening experience of my life.


At 11:23 p.m. on May 8, 2003, in Oak Forest, Illinois, I lay on a futon right by the only door to enter and exit the tiny loft apartment I shared with a cousin. I fell asleep quickly thereafter and woke up to the sight of an armed robber holding a handgun in my cousin’s face while walking into our loft.  After he entered, a masked accomplice followed him in, walked over to where I was and pointed a shotgun to the back of my head. The cold barrel touched me and sent chills through my entire body. As I lay on my stomach wondering if my cousin and I were about to die, I heard the initial gunman asking in a very aggressive, yet quiet voice, “Where’s the money? Where’s the money?” What he didn’t know was that my cousin, who is hearing impaired, could not hear him. He got annoyed after asking several times and hit my cousin hard enough for him to fall to the floor.


At that moment, my fear of death gave me enough courage to act. I quickly turned my head to watch the accomplice while I slowly rose from the futon.  To my dismay, he stared at me and lowered his gun. As I turned my head toward the one with the handgun, I was struck with immense force by the bottom of his pistol, which forced me to fall into a chair next to where my cousin had fallen. He hit my cheekbone less than two centimeters below my left eye and that side of my face went completely numb. My cousin and I watched them take three large pillowcases off our pillows, hurriedly shove our exposed items into them, and run out of the apartment. My cousin followed them out minutes after their departure. At this point, the left leg of my shorts was soaked with my blood. My vision was off balance as I walked to the bathroom to inspect the damage. I didn’t recognize my own face in the mirror. The left side had swollen to the size of a small grapefruit and had a deep cut still dripping blood.


This experience capped a series of events and sent me on a downward spiral. Most of my self-confidence had diminished over the following months. At some moments, I felt so insignificant that I intentionally avoided human interaction. The more I secluded myself from people, the more I reflected on my happier and more joyous years. It was during those weeks of seclusion that I realized I was most confident during those years. My confidence was at a high level because I was surrounded by others who supported and believed in me. I was faced with the challenge of digging within myself and relying on my faith in order to move forward. After spending much time internally evaluating my decisions and actions, I decided to work on disassociating myself from anything negative that led to my lack of confidence. I learned to focus on my intuitions, make decisions based on what they communicated, and act on those decisions. I made a conscious decision to believe in myself, even when no one else did. My attitude began to steadily improve and life was no longer terrible. I moved back to Pennsylvania in March 2004 with the encouragement of family who offered to help me get back on my feet. Things continued to improve, and I ended up relocating to North Carolina in July of the same year. Life began to progress and most of my experiences have been nothing short of miraculous. Even though that experience was scary at the time, it taught me a lot about the importance of believing in yourself.


Reasons to Believe In Yourself:

- It helps build self-confidence.

- It helps overcome fear.

- It helps in decision-making.

- It helps you say yes or no (where applicable).

- It acts as an inspiration.

- It leads to a path of self-discovery.

- It helps with visualization.

- It helps with the exploration of new opportunities in life.

- It helps to develop better relationships.