By: April Carson
Chris Atoki used to be homeless four years ago, but he had a moment of insight and completely changed his life. He is now a homeowner.
Chris Atoki was just 22 years old when he bought his first house. While this is a typical achievement for so many, it is especially meaningful to Chris. That's because, only four years ago, Chris was homeless and had less than a dollar to his name at the age of 18-19.
He almost gave up on life, but then changed his mind.
Hitting Rock Bottom
At the age of 18, Chris had a rigorous daily routine for someone so young. Every morning at 7 AM, he must wake up and go to class until 3 PM. Then he would take a 2-hour snooze before reporting for his 12-hour shift from 5 PM to 5 AM the next day.
He would take a nap before heading back to school. He needed the cash to help pay for his mother's housing.
One day, while at work, my supervisor informed me that he had to reduce the hours of a few individuals because I was in school. After all, I reasoned, I could still pay mom rent and sleep in, so it was great! Right? Well unfortunately not.
Chris was wrong, however. His employer dismissed him two weeks later because he didn't work enough hours. “I'm here in my early twenties with just one job: filling trucks and I'm still going to school since that's what I've been told you need to do to succeed," Chris said. “The issue is that I lost my job. I lost everything.”
His mother kicked him out
Finally, he was unable to afford going to school any longer. “Yes, I applied for literally hundreds of scholarships and only received one, yet I couldn't afford it,” he said. He was kicked out of his house after a disagreement with his mother. He looked for refuge everywhere, but no one would let him in.
Christ stated, "I was thrown out in the bitter cold in November. I attempted to sleep on my grandmother's sofa. It didn't work. I tried to stay with my friends at school and it didn't work either. Understandable."
His car became his only shelter over time. That's when he realized he'd reached rock bottom.
"I parked my car in front of Walmart. It was horribly cold outside. My account had less than a dollar left inside it. It felt like I was losing $0.83 or something when I last checked. There was no one to care for me, and I had no money. I got hungry as well as tired out physically and emotionally."
On The Verge of Giving up
“I didn't sleep. I was thinking about how much I despised everything. My mother, my father, my own father. My family. My job. College. My dirty automobile," Chris added. "That it was the accumulation of why my life wasn't worth living."
Chris was on the verge of suicide, but he had an important realization. He saw himself reflected in the rearview mirror and realized he was "the only person I could truly count on was myself." He discovered something to fight for: himself.
"I felt like I'd been reborn. It was as if a stranger had taken over my body. I was going to take charge of my life."
He then went to the library and applied for every position he could think of. He added, "I mean anything. Warehouse, factory, meat packer, wedding DJ assistant, solar panel canvasser (twice), insurance agent, etc., and eventually mattress salesman for a firm where I was required to go meet clients."
One step at a time
“I made enough money doing odd jobs to be able to put a down payment on another vehicle. I did this task for a long time until I began to dislike driving 400 miles each day. Finally, after applying with Mattress Firm and being accepted, I got the job,” Chris added.
Despite this, Chris was making progress. He had a 30k yearly wage and was still climbing slowly. "I couldn't afford an apartment yet, so I'd shower at the gym near the shop and show up to work," he explained.
He had almost been discovered by a coworker once, when he slept in before his shift. That's when he decided to search for somewhere. He found a place for $550 a month. It was adequate enough to get him started.
Going back to school
"I was doing this for a long time but I wasn't happy. I didn't want to do it for the rest of my life, yet I couldn't go back to school. When looking up online schools, Lambda School appeared. It met all of my requirements."
Chris and his family were thrilled with the Lambda program. The courses were offered online, there was no down payment required, and you might pay back when you earn a decent wage - otherwise, you pay nothing. Chris had only one concern: he was already working a full-time job.
He didn't consider quitting, so he emailed Lambda's CEO, Austen Allred. He never imagined that the CEO would respond to him. “I didn't think he'd reply but he did. I'd never spoken to the CEO of a firm before (I still don't).”
He was inspired to pursue his education by Austen's words, even if it wasn't always simple.
His son was born–one more reason to keep pushing
“I persisted through a few obstacles, but things were pretty smooth, and my kid was born. There's another motivation to keep fighting and pushing myself. I wasn't the greatest father when he was first delivered, but I've improved my errors and kept going.”
Chris joined Lambda after completing his education. “I wanted to assist people in achieving the same goals as I had and obtaining the same assistance that I desired. I gave all of myself to each one of them, and they realize it. All hundreds of them were affected.” Chris became a teaching assistant and wanted to give back.
Chris then applied for a technology position in Philadelphia. His income increased, but he did not stop going after what he wanted. Finally, today he formally became a homeowner.
Chris's message to the world
Chris wants others to be inspired by his experience and given hope after a difficult period.
"I've never felt better about my life or in a better financial position. I'll finally wrap it up with the statement that whether you're new to fitness, or an experienced veteran, there's something for everyone here. Find the inspiration to improve yourself and you will reap the benefits. It doesn't happen overnight. I'm not someone special; I simply took charge of my own destiny", he added.
He defied the odds and won. “I'm a 24-year-old black man with tattoos who was homeless for just four years ago. To have a $350,000 house on 1.24 acres is incredible. You most definitely can. I'm pleased with myself because of how well I've done it."
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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