To live in a community where for many doing drugs is an everyday thing, and gunshots are just an every night firework show, and to see prostitutes near the busy intersections at night is “normal”, is really something else. It shows that with just a little time, anyone can adapt to their surroundings. When I first moved to Oak Park, it took me awhile to fit in. I mean, every kid at school would talk about how there brother did something they thought was “cool”, whether it was smoking or a getting in a fight, only to later hear about how that kid was in trouble for doing the same thing that their brother did. These were our examples to follow.

In my family, I was the only boy out of seven girls, and being the only boy meant I had no older male mentor or anyone I could look up too. I figure that was the reason why I never knew which direction I was headed in or what I wanted to do with my life. I soon made friends in Oak Park, I made bonds with people that were sealed like glue. Now that I’m beginning to care about my future, and make better choices, most of my friends look at me wondering “What sparked in his head? Who changed his outlook on life? Where did the Gabriel we all know and love go?” Well, no one really changed my outlook on life, I did that myself with time and near-death experiences. When I knew I wanted to get out of this neighborhood but yet still keep the connections and friends I have and soon come back to change the way this neighborhood was, I knew that I didn’t need anyone to look up to, all I needed was mirror.

After living in the Oak Park community for over 10 years, I’ve adapted to my surroundings and I learned that it doesn’t matter about who you know and who you look up to, it’s about who you trust and who looks up to you and what example your setting for them. The example I am setting for the people that look up to me and the people that look at me is that it doesn’t matter about where you’re from, it’s about where your going.