Resilience is a skill that we learn through hardship.
The purpose of the Elizabeth Sutton podcast, Success by Design, is to inspire positivity and productivity through resilience and hustle. In my 30 years of life, I’ve never seen the entire world go through such hardship. In my 30 years of living in New York City, I’ve never imagined my city can be so sad. I see a beautiful unity in support of HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUALITY that is sweeping the nation following the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery. But I also see an astonishing and painful divide. I fear the sentiments amongst individuals will only further polarize society. I hope not. What I know for sure is as follows: 1. Every single person in this world, no matter what race, religion, gender, sexual preference, and creed is entitled to equality and basic human rights. 2. Hatred will always exist and it has nothing to do with your skin color or religion or anything. It has to do with poor education and is reflective of hatred of one’s own self. 3. I must stick to the good people in life – people with like-minded thoughts, ethos, and values, people who are kind and inspiring – and I will keep creating a forcefield around myself to tune out the bad as best as possible, regardless of the color of their skin, the God they pray to, or the people they love.
Alvina Alston is one such individual. Her episode on my podcast Success by Design was scheduled to air next week, but in light of current events we’ve switched it up.
Alvina Alston is a media and PR guru, her career has taken her all over the country. She is a major powerhouse, but you’ll hear that for yourself shortly. I was inspired to invite her on my show after reading an interview she had sent me about some serious trauma and loss she experienced in her life. I never would have guessed she’d been through so much hardship considering how larger than life she is.
Alvina is the epitome of a resilient human being. Hearing her story, hearing her struggles – you’d almost be shocked by how incredible she is. I’m not sure I personally know someone who has been through so many tragic events yet has come through with the most beautiful and radiant personality and smile. She is a role model to me and she is a role model to her community. Let her experiences inspire you to love yourself. We are only able to love others when we truly love ourselves. Listen to her story.
What would you describe as self-esteem and where does self-esteem come from?
Self-esteem is definitely believing in yourself and believing that you can conquer and overcome everything. Self-esteem is being imperfect and being confident with your imperfections.
Where does your self-esteem begin?
Self-esteem begins with you and people that you embrace yourself with. Self-esteem is a collaboration of many things. No one knows their self-worth before they go through rocky times. It begins with making mistakes and learning you are not perfect, things are not always going to be rosy. It starts by overcoming hardship.
It seems like you’ve had somewhat of a tough life. What was your childhood like and how did that impact your personal growth?
I had a beautiful childhood. I grew up with a single Mom of three girls. I was raised without my father. He was a drug dealer and drug abuser, while my mother was the ray of light in this dark situation. I lived in a couple housing projects in Buffalo, New York, and it didn’t bother me, because my mother was a beautiful person inside and out. She pushed forward. Even though she was on public assistance, she made me feel like I was invincible. Her instilling these feelings in me, forced me to do anything and everything I could to succeed.
In your adulthood you went through really tough times. Could you tell us about that?
When I was born there was a growth in my throat which the doctors said they had to operate, but a thick scar would always be present, for the rest of my life. They also said I might not speak. My Mother chose to stand on faith and ask God to heal me. She didn’t allow the operation, because she wanted to avoid the scar. All I do is talk now. This was the first obstacle I overcame.
There was trauma all throughout my life, but my Mom shielded that. She had a nervous breakdown at one point and my sisters and I had to go to foster care because she was not fit to take care of us.
The real troubles started after I finished college though. My father was found dead in his home, his body was badly decomposed and I never found out what really happened to him. Also, I never found out where his body was laid, to this day, so I never got to mourn him properly. We had kindled our relationship and we were constantly in contact prior to that, so this was a real shock.
My grandmother died right after my father died, and my sister, who I was very close with had contacted HIV, then AIDS and died right afterwards.
So I lost my father in 1994 and my sister and grandmother in 1995.
How did all these circumstances affect your self-esteem. Which mechanisms and support systems did you put in place?
I learned at a young age to put God first. I had to lean on God to get me through the storm. I was a young single mother and I knew I had to push on. My daughter depended on me and needed me to persevere. I had to keep going.
You mentioned you had lost your triplets. How did that happen?
I had what seemed a normal pregnancy. At 24 weeks, one of the babies had separated from the others and I was rushed to an emergency C-section because she could not breathe. That baby died at birth. I delivered the other two, one subsequently lived for four months and died of mrsa and the third died at six months. I thank God for that experience because it made me who I am today.
How did you take these challenges, propel them and turn them into a successful career?
The most successful people in the world have overcome major tragedies. Tough circumstances mold us, they turn us into sharks. They prepare us for what’s to come. People who haven’t experienced hardship and pain don’t value and don’t appreciate life. Had I not gone through such difficult times, I would not be able to transfer my experiences to others and help them grow.
Keep in tune for episode six of the Elizabeth Sutton podcast, Success by Design, to find out which mechanisms Alvina uses to keep her going when she feels low, advice which she would give people who are in the wrong place and ways in which she instills self-esteem into her children.
Keep in tune for episode seven on Success by Design, podcast by Elizabeth Sutton.
Connect with Alvina Alston