My Past Does Not Define Me

Written by Dairius Kawewehi

I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Oahu in Hawaii. My childhood was anything but easy. My parents were abusive, and I suffered from sustained mental and physical abuse, which led to trauma and pain that no child should ever have to endure. When I was just four years old, I was placed into foster care, and for the next eight years, I was moved from one foster home to another, attending five different elementary schools along the way. There were many moments in my young life when I wanted to give up on everything, but somehow, I found the strength and resilience to persevere. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to hold on, and when I was 13 years old, I was blessed with the opportunity to be adopted by a loving and supportive family.

My mom, in particular, was the epitome of unconditional love and acceptance. She welcomed me into her heart and home without hesitation, and never once made me feel like I was any less important or loved. My family created a warm and nurturing environment that gave me the stability I needed to begin the healing process and slowly work through the trauma and pain of
my past. A family that I could finally call my own. The loving environment and support allowed me the stability to slowly open up to my parents and especially my therapist to slowly work through my own healing process for all that transpired in my life at that point, while allowing the chance to finally look towards the future.

Thanks to their support, I was able to develop the mindset to give back to others. I wanted to make a difference in the world, to help others who had experienced similar pain and trauma, which led me to pursue a career in the military. I wanted to be able to give back to the community and make an impact on the lives of others and our nation. There were many challenges along the journey in foster care and many people that filled me with doubt on having any chance at success in life. However, I recognized overtime that there were people along the way, many working hands in the background that vouched for my success and helped get me placed into a loving hand. These unsung heroes inspired me to find a way to give back to the community. This led me to pursue a career in the military where I would be able to give back to the community and provide an impact on the lives of others.

Ultimately, my desire to give back led to my service in the military. During high school, I applied for, and was awarded, a Navy ROTC scholarship to Purdue University where I earned a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. I was commissioned into the Navy in 2016 and served aboard a Los Angeles Class Fast Attack nuclear submarine, the USS Jefferson City, out of Pearl Harbor, from July 2018 to November 2021. Following a return from deployment in the fall of 2021, I developed an interest in building passive income and generational wealth for my family. I joined a mentorship program for out-of-state real estate investing to develop the necessary skills to build passive income and accomplish financial freedom. I am currently in the process of transitioning out of active military service to pursue a career as an entrepreneur in real estate investing and as a program manager in the field of renewable energy.

As I navigated my way through the challenges of foster care and the military, I encountered many people who doubted my ability to succeed in life. But there were also those unsung heroes who believed in me and helped me along the way, people who saw beyond my skin color and background and recognized my potential.

Today, my definition of success is different from what it once was. For me, success isn’t just about achieving material wealth or status. It’s about overcoming the doubts and fears that have held me back in the past, about stepping out of my comfort zone and pursuing my dreams, no matter how big or impossible they may seem. My current goal is to achieve financial freedom and use that freedom to create a mentorship program for foster youth. I want to educate others on personal finances, investing, and achieving financial independence, to help them achieve their own versions of success.

If I could go back and talk to my four-year-old self, I would tell him that the road ahead will be long and difficult, but that he is stronger and more resilient than he knows. I would encourage him to keep going, to never give up, and to define his own success and dreams. I would tell him that he has the power to overcome the obstacles and roadblocks in his path and that he should
never let his past define him or hold him back.

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