Taking time to be proud of yourself

Published 10:48 am Sunday, May 22, 2022

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

During the spring of 2013, I found myself at one of my lowest points in life.

At 20 years old, I had just lost my first “real job” as a medical records assistant and call center receptionist at a local doctor’s office.

It was emotional and my first blow from the real world.

But it served as an eye-opening experience that changed my life for the better.

As someone who had taken two semesters of college at the University of Alabama but was forced home due to academic suspension, I was given one last chance.

To that point, I struggled to realize the dedication, focus and work it took to be successful in accomplishing a goal. I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, playing sports and sleeping more than the responsible side of life.

But after losing my first job, my parents said I had one more shot at going back to school. And let me tell you, they were dead serious.

I applied for re-admittance to the University of Alabama that spring for the upcoming summer semester, and my whole world changed in that moment.

You see, while working at the doctor’s office, I actually gained an appreciation for hard work.

I took that back to school with me, and I found a new appreciation for the goal I was working toward.

It led to the best three years of my life.

Life truly started to take shape before my eyes, and each step in the process was a memorable experience.

I graduated in three years, I got an internship at a radio station in Nashville (A dream at the time), I met my wife, I started a job at that same radio station and then was hired at Shelby County Newspapers, Inc. before even graduating in July 2016, starting on my birthday.

I tell you that story, not for you to be proud of me, but because I am proud of myself and where I have made it in life from where I was nine years ago.

On Tuesday, May 10, I graduated from the Leadership Shelby County Class of 2022, and it was a truly emotional experience for me. I tried not to show that, but it was a moment of reflection to realize what all I have been able to accomplish from that one last chance my parents gave me.

Throughout the experience, I go to work alongside some of the county’s top leaders, learn from peers and gain an appreciation for living in the state’s best county.

It was a humbling experience and one that not only made me realize how far I’ve come, but the potential for what’s ahead so I can continually strive to make myself better and help others around me anyway I can.

I say all of this so you to can be proud of your accomplishments.

We all hit snags in the road, we all have tough days, weeks and years, but we often forget to take the time to think about where we’ve made it in life and the obstacles we’ve overcome.

At the beginning, I said I was at one of my lowest points, and that was true nine years ago when the future was a dark and scary place, but I now see it’s about perspective.

Not only am I proud of what I’ve accomplished the last nine years, but I’m pretty thankful for the blessed life I lived for the first 20 years as well. Sometimes, I just didn’t have the work ethic or focus I needed.

I urge you to take a minute and reflect. Think back to your life as a kid, your life as a student, your life during your first job and your life now. Think about how far you’ve come and the road blocks you’ve gotten around, and most importantly, be proud of it.