When I was 21 years old, I was a young Airman, had a my 2000 Mustang GT, 1971 F-100 and 2003 Suzuki SV650. I loved my job working on jets. Had some really good close friends. I started dating a girl I was crazy about and had just moved off base into my first apartment. Life was good. By the time I was 22, I had been falsely accused and arrested for an assault with a deadly weapon against a person I'd never even seen. I got locked up in Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County and my bail was set at $80,000. I was told I didn't qualify for a public defender so I'd have to hire a lawyer. I had to sell my truck and motorcycle to try to pay some of it, but it didn't make a dent. My restricted area badge was pulled meaning I couldn't go on the flight line to do my job anymore. I got assigned to office duty (back office bitch aka BOB) and treated like a criminal by most of my peers. My relationship ended. My older brother went missing back home. After a month, his remains were located where he had gone into the woods and ended his own life. My Air Force career ended early. I had to move in with my parents to help care for my mother who was in really bad shape after my brother's death. I moved back home to Texas in 2006. Over the next 10 years I worked random jobs, relocated to a different state 8 times pursuing my goals, got my college degree, completed flight school, built my flight time up to be able to get a job at an airline and finally find myself where I wanted to be all along. I've now been flying at my airline for 5 years and I'm on track to be completely debt free in 4 years. Life hit me like a freight train. Clawing my way back wasn't a solo effort by any means. I had a lot of help from my family. There were long spans where it felt like I was simply treading water, just hanging on while I checked boxes and laid the ground work for the path I wanted to take. Occasionally, I was tempted to take an easy route, to settle for less than I wanted from life, but I kept my head down and trudged forward. I'm not the same person I once was, but I honestly feel like I can survive just about anything as long as I have the physical health to keep pushing. I've come to accept that life will throw me more tragedy, injustice and hardship. I just try and position myself as best as possible to cope with the unknown that's just around the next bend. I like to take note of the little things in life. I didn't grow up poor, but we had to live fairly modestly. A slice of wheat bread was a side dish at our dinner table, I wore hand-me-downs and thrift store clothes and my father drove a rickety old mail jeep. Now, I can go to the grocery store and buy steak and pistachios, (the pre-shelled ones). Paying my debts, and having enough left over to enjoy luxuries I never had as a kid makes me feel like I'm succeeding, even if I'm still living in a tiny old rented house. I'm still working my way to where I want to be, but I'm not suffering anymore.