By Helena Rodriguez: PNT columnist
I spent the early part of my adult life playing the blame game. You know how that works. To quote my 3-year-old niece, Marissa, “It’s not my fault!”
Now that I’ve entered the 30-something years, tilting closer toward the big 40 in which I’ve been there and done that, and in the process, have learned to live in the present, it doesn’t matter that my first-grade teacher shook me and forced me to write right-handed. It doesn’t matter that I lived a sheltered childhood with limited opportunities, that my friends rejected me in junior high and that a supposed “friend” left a note in my locker in high school, tearing apart my whole self-image.
If you’ve had setbacks based on your upbringing, which could include your ethnicity, religion, culture, gender, height or other such factors, I say, to directly quote a Lubbock principal, Lisa Ramirez, who took part in a teen summit last spring, “Get over it!”
In a Lubbock Avalanche-Journal story on Jan 27, that’s the message Ramirez said she gives to students who come to her with sob stories as excuses as to why they can’t hack it in school. She says, “You better get over it and you better get on with it!”
Would Oprah Winfrey have ever gone on to become the first billionaire black woman if people constantly gave her breaks due to the hardships she’s had in her life – poverty, child abuse and molestation?
Would Antonio Villaraigosa had been sworn in as the first Hispanic mayor since 1872 of the nation’s second largest city, Los Angeles, this past week if he had used his upbringing as a crutch? He grew up in a home of alcoholism and violence. His father deserted the family and he ended up dropping out of high school.
I could blame some of the hardships in my life on the previous discrimination that my grandparents suffered, but then where does the blame stop? If I blamed them, then they could turn around and blame others and so on. I could use the weak excuse that any misfortune is caused by curses as some people do. But I say all curses can be broken.
I could also blame setbacks on the fact that I’m a single mother, but that would only rob my daughter of some valuable life lessons. I’ve had employers in the past be understanding, some even cut me slack from time to time, but it was the ones who held me to the same expectations as others that I have to thank for making me tough and organized. They taught me to expect more from myself.
Dr. Phil McGraw and entertainer Bill Cosby have both addressed the blame game issues, with Cosby taking criticism for his comments about black parents when he said, “Many parents would rather shell out $500 for a pair of sneakers but will not spent that much on Hooked on Phonics for their kids.”
I’m a firm believer that hard work and determination is what makes people successful. There are no short cuts. Life is supposed to be tough, but I also believe God doesn’t ever give us more than we can handle. He knows our limits and sometimes pushes them, but that just makes us stronger.
It has been during some of the most frustrating times in my life that I’ve eventually been lead to reap in success and triumph shortly thereafter, making it all seem worthwhile. Nothing makes you appreciate these triumphs even more than when you have put your whole heart, soul and effort into something.
I talked to a counselor last year and got all of the blames, including a lot of self blame, out of my system. One thing I’ve learned from this special person is that blame only creates shame in you and I’ve grown tired of holding my head down, of worrying about what other people think and of making excuses for not doing things I want to do.
I’m through playing the blame game.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: