Homelessness is not a character flaw, and is not an indication of a person’s motivation. The two biggest factors driving homelessness are poverty and the lack of affordable housing. It is a situation that many, many people find themselves in. Many people who experience homelessness do find their way out and move on from this dangerous and lonely condition. Some, like the following 8, take their hard learned lessons and turn them into a tenacious quest to pursue and attain their highest potential.
Halle Berry: Oscar winner Halle Berry spent some time in a homeless shelter during her early, struggling years in Chicago as she was trying to make a name for herself. She said in an interview “It taught me how to take care of myself and that I could live through any situation, even if it meant going to a shelter for a small stint, or living within my means, which were meager. I became a person who knows that I will always make my own way.”
Jim Carrey: Comedian Jim Carrey dropped out of high school and lived in tents, cars, and friends homes with his family after his father lost his job. He had a very rough upbringing, which he credits with developing his sense of humor and drive for success.
Jewel: Grammy winning singer Jewel spent a period of time living in her van after she was fired for turning down her boss’s sexual proposition. She also had a serious illness and almost died due to lack of insurance and medical care. “During that time, I had people treat me like I was nothing, like I didn’t matter, but there were a few people that didn’t treat me that way. They made me feel like I was still important, like I was still a part of society, and I still mattered. I’ve been able to go on and do great things, and the same is true for a lot of people in public housing.”
Chris Gardner: Inspiration for the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, was homeless with a young son in San Franscisco. His childhood was “marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy.” He is now a very successful author, motivational speaker, and CEO.
Michael Oher: The first round NFL draft pick was one of 13 siblings, never knew his father, was in and out of foster care, and eventually became homeless during his teen years. He attended 11 schools in 9 years while his drug addicted mother lived in public housing. His story was turned into an Oscar winning movie The Blind Side.
Kelly Clarkson: The first winner of American Idol, Kelly Clarkson moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. The apartment she shared with a roommate caught fire forcing them to live in a car and a homeless shelter. She returned to her home state of Texas where she auditioned for American Idol and launched her successful singing career.
Shania Twain: The Grammy winning singer was raised in poverty and abuse in Toronto, Canada where her family went without heat in the winters and often went hungry. She and her four siblings lived in homeless shelters with their mother. Shania is now worth over $350 million.
Hilary Swank: The Oscar winning star spent most of her childhood living in a trailer with mom. When she was 16 she dropped out of high school and she and her mother moved from Washington to Los Angeles with very little money and no place to stay. They lived in their car until they could save enough money for an apartment.
While many people who experience homelessness find their way out, very few go on to have the magnitude of success that these 8 people did. But, for every person who experiences homelessness, there are hard life lessons learned, and most develop a very deep appreciation of things that most people take for granted; a trait which helps them to focus on their goals rather than their obstacles.