I often got in trouble in school when I was growing up. The teachers could see I was smart, but they also knew I made dumb decisions, like throwing paper balls across the classroom, yelling out in class, and leaving after-school detention without permission. I always knew what I was doing was wrong. But resisting temptation is hard for me. It’s always right there and I’m eager to react, because reacting helps me release energy and stress.
Still, I always thought of myself as a good kid. But one day, my antics crossed the line and I did something that I’ll always regret, something that set me on the wrong path.
Back in 6th grade, I was living with my aunt in a rough neighborhood, nothing but gangs in the community. Watching these gangs committing criminal acts like robbery and assault eventually influenced me to do the same.
I joined one of the gangs. At the time, I was under a lot of stress at home. My aunt was strict. She was on my case 24/7 about school, doing homework, and waking up on time. I wasn’t used to that because before I’d lived with my mom. She was a crack addict and didn’t pay attention to anything I did. So suddenly I was under a lot of pressure. My aunt would be nagging me over and over again, giving me a headache. My grandma would yell at me and give me speeches about school too. I felt criticized.