I’ve been homeless four times in my 25 years on this planet.
When I was 7 my father kicked my mother, me and my four siblings out of the house.
When I was 9 my father had found where we lived and my mum fled with us for our well-being.
When I was 11, he found us again. We ran.
The last time I was homeless was when I’d refused to get involved in my local gang in Easterhouse (one of Scotland’s poorest housing estates), so drew attention from one of the local hooligans. I was beaten up so badly that we left the area for our own safety.
I’m not writing this so people feel sorry for me, rather I’m writing it to illustrate that yes, whilst I was homeless four times I’ve not let it dictate my life in a negative manner — rather I use it as a means of inspiration.
I’d like to tell you a little about this and how you too could benefit from the lessons I learned, without all the hassle of being homeless.
There’s always a silver lining
No matter how down you feel or how bad your situation is it could always be worse. I’m thankful that we never had to sleep on the streets, we had the benefit of hostels and temporary accommodation. Whilst we were being flitted about pillar to post, we still had a roof over our head. So, there was a silver lining as every night we put our heads on a pillow.
Patience is a virtue.
Whilst people that know me would say the idea I’m patient is ridiculous – I could always be less patient. When you’re homeless and awaiting public housing for a single parent and 5 kids, you can wait a good long while. We ignored the offers of poor accommodation, clearly put to us to get us off the books, so to speak, and waited it out. We knew something better would come along. Don’t always jump on the first thing that comes around because it seems like the best thing at the time.
Trust your instinct, it can often be the best tool you’ve got.
Trusting your instinct is key, especially when your life is in flux . One time, a fellow resident of the Hamish Allan Centre (a help centre for the homeless, with some accommodation for families) had to ‘pick up something for his kid’. I decided to tag along, despite my instinct telling me that he wasn’t to be trusted. It was suggested I wait outside the Boots Chemist for him, I got bored and so decided to walk in, only to see him receiving a mouthful of what I later found out was methadone, by way of spitting from a troubled looking woman. I left him there and decided not to venture out with him again. I should have trusted my own instinct.
Keep your goals.
No matter how much life seems to throw up against you, you make goals for a reason- stick to them and you’ll enjoy the reward all that much more. The last time I was homeless, I thought that leaving school would be the best thing to do, to help provide for my family. Eventually, I realised that I couldn’t achieve my long term goals of never worrying about money or where the next meal was coming from, without furthering my education.
No man is an island.
Nothing you gain in life is because of your own self. True, nobody is going to hand you anything – but chances are someone has given you a chance, extended an opportunity or looked the other way when you’ve slipped up. I try to realise that everything I’ve achieved is because of working with others, whether it be my siblings in getting through the long lonely nights as we shifted from place to place or my mum for instilling the value that we could be anything we wanted to be or my partner for encouraging me, even when at times I let negativity overtake me.
Those are six lessons I try to keep with me in my personal and professional life and I guarantee you, that if you take them on, you too can live a positive life and feel successful, no matter what stage of your life you’re at.
I suppose an addendum to all of this, is never be bitter. Sometimes life can change direction and everything can rail against you and for some people that’s enough to defeat them. My dad died in October 2015, after years of battling his demons. He still played a part in bringing me to the world and shaped me, even if he didn’t realise it. So there’s always that to be thankful for.
Thanks for reading this, it would seem self indulgent but I’ve got the hope that someone, somewhere will take it on-board and feel better for it. I hope that person is you.
As for me, I’ve stopped running.
~ By Kenny Murray