One of the hardest struggles I’ve experienced has been this prison sentence. I was incarcerated when I was 28, and I just turned 33 a couple days ago. I’ve noticed that I am very different from the person than that 28 year old I remember. I’ve been mostly so focused on my education and my own health and well-being that I don’t really have too much time for anything else. This is a big difference from before in similar situations when instead of focusing on my own journey and trying to better myself, I would spend more time “hanging out” or trying to fit in. I noticed a lot of people do that in here and I try to avoid that for the most part. This is the way I see it. I’ve read that the recidivism rate for federal prisoners is 80%. That means that if you take 10 guys in here and put them in a group, 8 of them will end up violating probation or pick up a new charge. To me, that means that I have to do the opposite of what 80% of the people in here are doing. Now I rely on my close relationships with my family and one of my good friends outside of this place to feel connected. Healthy relationships for me have been a huge part in my own journey to change. Now I try to avoid getting that need from the wrong places, which is definitely something I struggled with in the past. A lot of people come in here and say they want to change and never come back but don’t realize that they have to change almost every aspect of not only their behaviors but their most fundamental ways of thinking. For me, this was true because, I must admit, my thinking was wrong and misguided. I am blessed to have had an awakening of sorts. I believe I’ve made some realizations that have saved me from a fate filled with repeated mistakes. This wasn’t dumb luck. I’ve tried very hard to look inward and become more aware. Taking my own education more seriously has definitely helped me to do this. I can now see a bigger picture that I never saw before. So far, this struggle of being sentenced to 10 years has not broken me but made me stronger. Although I think there are easier and better ways to help lead people to the sort of change I have experienced in my own life, I can’t help but feel like I needed this experience to jolt me into action. I definitely intend to do my part in bringing that recidivism rate for prisoners down by not coming back. I also want to find a meaningful way to help others in this situation also gain a better understanding of themselves so they can find the desire to change for the better.