Lessons that I Learned from Living on the Streets

Commentary by Kim”Supermutt”Goodman

I don’t ever regret living on the street; in fact it made me a stronger and better person. The street taught me a lot of valuable things. On the street I learned to be Christian. I didn’t have a lot, so I needed something to believe in. I started believing in God. As I grew in faith, I learned that different people have different religious beliefs and I learned to respect that. Religion is all about people building a personal relationship with the higher power that they believe in, that is why I learned to used the term “higher power” when dealing with a large audience of people so I won’t offend anyone.

I learned to treat others as I would like to be treated, but sometimes only to a certain extent. I want to be cared about, treated nicely and to be respected.  I wanted to be admired, but I learned that if I show some people I care too much, they may sometimes mistake my love for something intimate or mistake my kindness for a weakness. I also learned if I can’t get anywhere with treating others like I want to be treated, then I will treat others like they treat me so they can see how it feels.

I learned that there was only one perfect person who ever walked the Earth and he got nailed to the cross (Jesus) so there are no perfect people on Earth. This means everyone makes mistakes and is capable of making bad choices at some point in their life. Many times people make mistakes, use poor judgment, and make bad decisions in their life because they don’t know any better. I learned that people come from different walks of life and their environments affect the things they do and believe in so if someone do something that seem stupid to me, it might not seem stupid from their point of view.

I learned that people don’t just struggle physically and financially, they also struggle mentally and emotionally. People can see a person with a physical disability struggling or understand that people struggle with their physical health. People can even understand that people struggle with their finances but when it comes to mental development and mental health there is a problem. The mind and the emotions are internal so many times a person’s problems are not always visible. It is hard for a lot of people to understand that a person who is biologically 40 years old may not always function like a typical 40 year old, they may function like a 16 year old. Many people may not understand that a person may not live up to their full potential because they may be dealing with an emotional disorder.

I learned that there are a lot of people who struggle, there are a lot of people who try hard and still fail and there are some people who are unable to help themselves and it is okay to help these people. But there are some people who can’t be helped because they spend more time and effort trying to get over on others than they do to helping themselves. It is a big difference between a person who don’t want to help themselves and a person who can’t help themself.

I learned not to judge people by their outward appearance. What people wear, how people wear their hair, what people do, and what people believe in, do not always define what is in their hearts. Everyone who appears to be nice is not always nice, those who seem strange, odd or different can be the greatest people to deal with.

I learned that family is not always related. A lot of people are born into this world and their relatives are there to provide love and support for them, for them their relatives are their family. Some people have relatives who are distanced or not supportive and they are unable to depend on their relatives to meet their needs. As the person make friends and interacts with others outside of their bloodline they may build a relationship with others and those people become their family. I also learned that people’s needs are more than just physical and financial. Being there for a person mentally teaching them something new or boosting them up emotionally with some encouraging words or a smile can sometimes mean more than just buying them material things or giving them money. Building a good relationship is more about bonding emotionally and enriching a mind and can be done with people who share a common experience or interest.    

If each person learned to look past a person’s outward appearance, not to pass judgment without getting an understanding, see things from others perspective or point of view and think about others instead of just themselves, the world would be a better place. If more people understood that people’s needs are emotional and mental in addition to physical and financial they would learn to have more compassion for each other. Some people have more compassion for animals than they have for people and are more willing to help a stray animal than a homeless person who is poor in spirit. These are lessons that I’ve learned and I hope that others get to learn these lessons one day too. 

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio