“I knew at that moment I had to make a choice… I could submit to everything and live a life of excuses, or I could push myself… I could push myself and make my life good…” ~ Liz Murray
Liz Murray’s life story Breaking Night, an incredible journey from homeless to Harvard, describes the ability and power to survive the hardship of drug-abusive parents, the suffering of being abandoned, hungry and rejected by society and prevail against all odds, taking control of her life. It is not a fairy tale; it is a real life-story full of disappointment, grief, adversity and belief as a turning point that everything can be changed for better.
It is the belief that gives the strength and motivation to move forward, taking one little step after another, which eventually will bring a person to a rewarding satisfaction of achievement. An inspiring story about a girl who managed to pave the way to victory in the struggle with all life tribulations raising from the very bottom of homeless, misfortunate and outcast and becoming a successful woman is a perfect example that we shape our destiny and create our luck.
Liz Murray was born in a drug-addicted family. Her parents’ ultimate interest was getting high and experiencing the whirlwind for a fleeting moment and facing the deep depression afterwards. The passion for drugs was like a bomb with a slow motion that eventually tore the family apart. Liz’s parents loved their kids, however it was not enough. They were not able to take care of them, providing them with the most necessary and urgent needs. On the contrary, Liz Murray always felt the responsibility over her parents. Quite often she was tortured by the feeling of guilt that her mother was fading and she was flourishing.
The picturesque display of sadness of always suffering from hunger, cold and being dirty with unconscious parents who could care less about the welfare of the children represents the childhood of Liz Murray. Under such tough circumstances Liz started skipping school and eventually running far behind she dropped out of school, where she was never understood and accepted anyways. It was painful for her to realize that she was different from other students, who would always raise their hands and always get the right answers, students from functional families, from perfect world. She did not belonged to that world, which seemed an illusion to her. There were much more important, more urgent needs to satisfy, like getting money for the food, taking a shower, finding the shelter to spend the night rather than studying.
There was an impenetrable wall that separated Liz, her family and people from her neighborhood and people with money and jobs, houses and cars, stability and long-term life planning. People from her circle were concerned with the most urgent problems like hunger, heat, rent etc., which required immediate solution, they did not set their sight on such lofty things as long-term future goals. The realization of this separation would often give room to humiliation and despair. Going with the flow was much easier than pushing against it. It was about survival one day after another, the principle of “for right now” was applied to every dilemma. It was hard painful and frustrating. However, the dark period of Liz’s tribulation was replaced by hope for better life. Liz Murray was thinking: “ If life could change for the worst, maybe it could change for the better”.
The awakening point in Liz Murray’s life was when she decided to take control of the development of events. She realized that she was in charge of her life. Instead of letting everything go, she started acting, making one empowering choice after another, no matter how hard and challenging it seemed. Liz decided to go back to school, which brought about so many positive changes to her life and made her successful. She saw the light and future in the power of education. It was extremely difficult to get through all the obstacles and pitfalls on the way to graduating from high school and entering college.
While applying to numerous high schools, Liz Murray having the reputation of being an irresponsible truant and dropout savored the bitter taste of being rejected many times. That did not break her. She set a goal and was determined to prevail at all odds. And she did. Liz was working so hard towards realization of her dream, enduring all the hurdles of feeling hunger, doing her homework in the stairways, sleeping in the trains, that in the end it brought rewarding results. She relished the sense of achievement in Prep School, which gave her inspiration and boosted her self-esteem. Patience, enormous efforts and intensive studying transformed Liz Murray’s life. During times when she was staying at her friends’ apartments she had the weak moments between the choice of warm blanket or the door. It was so tempting to let everything go and give up. However she never did. She became strong and self-sufficient, determined on following things through. She kept herself motivated and inspired jumping the hurdles toward the finishing line. The fruit of labor was Harvard and success in life.
Liz Murray has become the master of her universe. Her heart breaking yet encouraging life-story is the motivation for everybody. Instead of tragic ending Liz Murray has managed to change her life, breaking down the boundaries. If she could do it than everybody can. We are all human beings, and we have a lot in common. We all want to be happy, but we all face adversity and we must learn to overcome it. Life might be unfair, yet it is worth fighting for, aspiring for better. The persuasive message of Breaking Night is simple, but it has a profound meaning. It is not the circumstances that define people’s life; it is people who define the circumstances. We have all the tools for empowerment within us. Life is about interpretations. And only with positive interpretations we obtain the possibilities.
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© Anna Trishch 2014