Pride comes before the fall
I was arrested for the first time at the age of 11. I really don't know why I did it, but I know why I did it. Can you understand what I am saying?
When I was young, I tended to get in a lot of trouble. By the time that I turned 12, I had already been incarcerated in the Juvenile Detention Center over eight times. Now that I am older, I think about my past life and some of the decisions I made in life. The reason for me going to jail for the first time was because I burglarized the public library. I did it because some one dared me—you must remember that I am only 11 at this time, so a dare felt like a challenge to me and I always love a challenge. Back to the Story—one of my older friends dared me to break into the library and steal as many computers as I could with out being caught. I was able to make it out with 28 laptops and about $1,800 in cash. When we made it to the place we went to chill, The place we chilled at was an abandoned house that still had all of its appliances. TVs, couches, tables, beds, anything you would normally see in a regular home was at this abandoned house. We used a generator for electricity. But this night we listened to rap music on the radio drinking Mad Dog 20-20 straight out the bottle while sitting on the porch enjoying the hot summer night breeze with the mosquitoes buzzing by our ears sounds like they were whispering to us in their own buzzing language. We stayed there drinking alcohol, cracking jokes, and listening to the radio until midnight, because some of us had school the next day. I never told my friends about the money because I felt that the money was none of their concern.
We were able to sell all the laptops on the streets the next two days, but I was arrested the third day. Did I fail to mention that the Public Library had over 30 Cameras installed at this time?
I ended up doing community service for over a year working off my fines for the laptops. And no I did not turn in the money. I spent the money on all kinds of unnecessary items. Things like fake jewelry, wasting money on young girls, I even bought a lot of marijuana. When you're young, you make a lot of crazy decisions. You normally just think about “the moment” and not about the outcome. You take life head on and do a lot of crazy things and don't realize how dangerous those things are. When I was young, I use to dive off top of a bridge into the Leaf river. It's about a 50 foot dive. Even though I knew a few people had died from this stunt, I never really thought about the danger when I was doing it. My friends and I used to chase the huge freight trains while they were moving and jump on them and climb to the top of the trains and jump from train cart to train cart until we made it to the other side of town. In any of these moments, we could have lost our lives.
You would expect a person to learn from their mistakes. Well I didn't learn from my mistakes until decades later. When I went to the Juvenile Detention Center for the first time at the age of 11, you would expect me to be scared, but I wasn't because my older brother was already there. He was respected by the guards and counselors and when he told them that I was his little brother they put me in the cell with him. I believe I disappointed my brother that night when they first put me in the cell with him. The look he gave me was of a loved one that you have let down. He kept saying “Damn lil brah, this ain't the place for you. Your ass suppose to be focusing on school and not breaking into shit!!" I just laughed it off and told him I'll be out in a few days and he said nothing else about it. I had protection and security while I was in there because my brother was in a gang and there was a lot of his homies in there too. It was all fun to me, just like a summer camp with cells as doors and barbed wire fences, so the extent of my actions and understanding that I did something wrong didn't settle in. The whole two weeks I was in there, there was no one trying to put me on the right path and guide me to do better. So when I made it home I really didn't learn my lesson.
When you're younger, you fail miserably to listen to your parents or elders. I was raised by a God Fearing family. My mother has five boys and I am the youngest. We wasn't poor, well I didn't think we were at that time, because my mother did everything she could to make sure us boys had what we needed. I made good grades in school, but I still ended up in trouble. Even though I was raised by a great family, there was something seriously wrong with me. I had a habit of causing problems at school just to get suspended. I was a problem child, but I never knew where the anger was coming from that was in me. Until I had gotten older I didn't realize that what I was calling anger most of the time wasn't really anger. It was actually pride.
One day while in my 7th grade history class, my teacher told me to pick my head up off the desk. I lashed out and started cursing and calling him all kinds of names to the point that the teacher grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and tried to lead me to the principal’s office. My pride wouldn't let me let this man handle me. I started cursing him again and pushed him off me, and he hit the wall with his back. His face turned bloodshot red and you could see he was on the verge of losing his temper. He grabbed me by the arm and this time I could feel his nails digging into my skin and it started to hurt so I punched him in his face and he let my arm go. I picked up a chair and threw it at him. I wasn't sure if the chair hit him because once I threw the chair I was heading out the classroom door because this teacher isn’t an average sized school teacher. This guy was at least 6 feet 3 inches and weighed at least 280 pounds. He use to be a line backer in college. He would tell us stories sometimes in class. So I knew not to let this guy get his hands on me, I knew it was a fight my 5 feet 3 inches and 145 pounds couldn't win. So I decided to just head to the principal office.
My mother use to say, "Pride Comes Before the Fall." When I was young I didn't understand what she was saying until I had gotten older. Every time I get in trouble, she always said it, "Pride comes before the fall."
The day I threw that chair at my teacher, I was walking towards the principal’s office, and the teacher was screaming my name trying to get my attention or stop me. Along with all the noise and commotion we were making, the school hall way was packed with students and staff. Somehow I ran into my older brother before I made it to the principal’s office. I guess someone told him what was going on. I lied to my brother and told him that the teacher had hit me and I hit him back. As my brother and I was talking the teacher made it to me and grabbed one by the shoulder and I jerked his hand and my brother told the teacher to keep his hands off me. The teacher grabbed my brother, and that's when all hell broke loose. My brother and I fought the teacher for about 30 seconds until some more teachers broke up the fight.
When my brother found out that he was expelled, it crushed him. I've never seen my brother cry but be cried right there on the spot. My brother was a popular kid at school. He was on the varsity high school basketball team. He was the second leading scorer on the team and the best wide receiver they had on their football team. This was his senior year and he was praying that he would get a scholarship from anywhere and end up going to the NBA. He loved basketball more than football. To see the hurt and pain in my brother's eyes made me feel so guilty. My pride took everything my brother loved away from him. My pride took his hopes and dreams away.
Pride is a disease that can change the outcome of your future. Pride destroys you, it blinds you and entraps you. And the crazy thing about it is we never realize until it's too late. I wish I would have realized 10 years ago the affects of pride. Maybe I wouldn’t be sitting in prison now doing a 20-year sentence. I didn't realize how dangerous pride is until 9 years ago when I took a serious self evaluation on myself trying to figure out why was I always getting in trouble. A self evaluation is getting to yourself and asking yourself why did you do some of the things you did? Was it worth it? Is this how I want to live the rest of my life? How do you want to be remembered? Do you want your child to hear about the bad things you have done? Or the good things. Do you want your kids doing those things? I didn't want to be remembered as a bad guy. I wanted to be remembered as a father, positive leader, and role model. So I had to change my ways.
I understand pride now. Pride wants you to be something you are not just to satisfy what someone else thinks about you. Don't worry about what someone thinks or says about you. As long as you know who you are, you shouldn't care about anyone’s opinion.
Have you taken a self evaluation and are you happy with who you are?
My pride was defeated by humility. I learned to humble myself and think about my actions and words before I act or speak. I think about how any actions could affect the people around me. How one mistake can start a chain effect of problems after problems. Pride makes me fall, but humility picks me up.
This is Jawan Davis’s first publication. The memoir is the door opener to his upcoming larger memoir project. He’s Mississippi born with deep roots in the South. He expresses himself through writing. His upcoming memoir will be about the life as a young black kid growing up in Mississippi rural areas and about the journey he took to become more than a statistic.