Star Word: Squandered Advantage

Star Word: Squandered Advantage

Star Word: Squandered Advantage

by Amy Lee Carpenter, Director of Communications

Star Word Story
We’ll be publishing stories of Star Words throughout the year. If you’d like to submit your musings on your Star Word, please send it to Amy Lee Carpenter, Director of Communications, at

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by Amy Lee Carpenter, Director of Communications
Star Word: Advantage

When I was young, I didn’t get everything I wanted. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted. Instead, I spent time in the garden. I spent time in the garage. I spent time with my father painting parking lots in the summer. I spent time with my mother, waiting as she constructed me elaborate Halloween costumes. I spent the gross amount of this time complaining.

My father, the second son (and child of five) of a Methodist minister and a homemaker, didn’t experience the luxuries of monetary wealth as a child, or a teenager, or a young adult. It was probably for the best that he and his family didn’t have a lot of objects because they were constantly on the move. The preacher’s kid life was not a stable one; he traveled across Texas, never settling in a single place for long. He has reminded me that not everyone has what I have. He has always been quick to tell me that there was never a meal he refused. From what I know of my father now and what I gather from my father rambling on about how it was in his day, he has always been hungry. His lack created in him this relentlessness that will never be calmed. He works longer and harder than anyone I have ever met.

My mother, the third child of a fierce and formidable woman and an Eastern Kentucky accountant, grew up a little differently than my father. She wasn’t constantly uprooted like my father was. Yet, she still experienced disadvantages. She witnessed her father demand fairness, and speak for those who needed a voice. She witnessed her fierce and formidable mother face severe illness. In response to what she saw, she read, and she studied, and she kept going to school. She got degree after degree after degree in her relentless search for knowledge. When it comes to learning something new, she can’t be stopped.

This could easily be a story of disadvantage. I could fill pages about the challenges my parents face and continue to face, but I won’t because that’s not what they did. My father worked. My mother learned. They turned their obstacles into opportunities for themselves and my brother and I. As I stand on the edge of my 20s, I now see that my parents have desperately tried to pass on their relentlessness.

What have I done instead?

For the better part of three decades, I drowned them out with loud, stubborn complaints. I checked my watch as my father taught me about how to grow my own food. I rolled my eyes as my mother taught me about the benefits of reusing items and how to do so. I was given not only a public school education but education from both of my parents. And I squandered it.

Now, I am trying to catch up to what I could have been. I am trying to learn how to garden. I am trying to learn how to make my own clothes and how to eliminate what I throw away. I’m trying to learn all the things my parents already taught me.


I was given so many advantages and failed to use them appropriately.

Neither one of them wasted time. Ever. They saw what needed to be done in response to their unique situations and they did it. They are non-stop kind of people and that’s who I want to be too.

I know the world needs me to put my advantage to good use. This pattern of squandering has to stop.