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Third Generation

I was born into a legacy. My grandfather, my mother, my father, my brother, my great aunts, and my great uncles all attended The Illustrious Tennessee State University. It is difficult to wrap my head around something so significant. They set the bar high, and it is my job to keep it there.

My grandfather grew up on a plantation. His father was a sharecropper, and his father before him a slave. He grew up with nothing but family. He went to TSU through the ROTC program where we trained to one day be a part of the army. Thankfully, however, when he enrolled in the army, his “trick knee” as he calls it disqualified him. He ended up becoming a teacher at a school that was built on the very plantation he was raised on. He went on to be a principal and worked at many of the schools that my own teachers went to. Every time I had a substitute teacher in elementary school, they saw my last name and asked me if I was related to my grandfather. He left a mark on the people he encountered. Decades later they still remember his name, Mayes Waters Jr.

I always feel like my life is blurry. There is no good way to explain this, but right now, what I am and what I’m doing seems so foggy, but I always have had this guiding light inside of me. I can see clearly where I am going to be, who I am going to be, and what I am going to do. I always stumble into things that end up being the best thing I could have done in my life. Every decision I make on accident catapults me to the place I wanted to be.

That’s the secret my grandpa told me. Everything he’s done and everything he has, he did by accident. It was pure luck. I’ve been spending all this time figuring out who I am and what to do, when really, as long as I have this picture in my head of my future and I try my best to align myself with that, everything will end up where I need it to be.

I don’t know how any of this is happening, but things just continue to work out. One thing I will say is that the bigger picture will tell your story. Yes, things always work out, but the in-between where everything is up in the air and nothing seems to make sense and things keep seeming like they’ll be awful forever, those times are real. That feeling of fear and depression is real. But you have to stick it through. You have to keep that guiding light.

It is your legacy. It is your mark you will leave on the world, because the world always has its eyes on you.

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