I grew up in a single parent home with 3 other siblings. My mom has been all I’ve ever known. My dad came around sometimes and in an attempt to win me over he resorted to buying my love. I didn’t realize at the time how much damage he was really doing to my emotions. I completed half of 1st grade before having to be pulled out of public school due to being rushed to the ER almost everyday because of how bad my asthma was. My mom decided to homeschool me from that point on. We grew up in the church going several times a week and I was involved in so many things like choir, orchestra and bible competitions. I struggled to make friends because no one really knew what it was like to have only one parent. I struggled to find myself and where I belonged.

I started community college when I was 16 and was really shy, it was awkward being younger than everyone else and still not knowing who I was. But I pushed through and worked full time, paying for all my expenses without relying on anyone else. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what came next. I went back and forth on what university I wanted to go to which ended up making me take a year off in between. During that year I found myself in a dark place. I blamed myself for my dad not being there. I told myself that if I did more maybe he would’ve stayed. Maybe, just maybe, if I was good enough he would’ve stayed. I cried every night, praying for everything to just end. I tried to overdose on several different pills. Within an hour I was throwing everything up and the next morning it just looked like I had a bad flu. I never said anything to my family.

After graduating from University, I found myself in relationship after relationship just begging for someone to show me that I was worth staying around for, that I was good enough to fight for. My mom kicked me out of the house because of it. On my 24th birthday I got into a car accident that forever changed my life. I developed severe anxiety and fell into a really deep depression. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat and every day I would just cry. My girlfriend at the time told me that she couldn’t deal with me anymore and made me go to my Dr. to get medication. I remember her tossing my pills to me any time I had a panic attack telling me she wasn’t going to do this with me anymore as she left me alone in our apartment. I reached back out to my mom and to my surprise, she took me back in.

When I came back I started looking for a job and a position that I never could’ve imagined fell into my lap. I became a behavioral interventionist. I worked with special education youth that were struggling with social interactions and academics. Little did I know that I had found where I belonged. It made me see that I had a purpose, a passion for these kids and their families. I worked hard every day to learn everything I could so that I could provide service for them. I started to look for ways to be better, to do better, not only for them but for myself as well. I made a commitment to get off my medication and work as hard as I could to fight my depression and anxiety.

I made a list of things that I feared, things I believed to be true about me, things I hated about myself. One by one I faced them and I reasoned with them. That was when I realized that I was the one who was holding me back. That my perception of who I was and what I was, was exactly why I couldn’t move forward. You are your biggest critic. And at that moment it was like everything was clear as day. I am who defines me. I am who I want to be. And I can only get as far as I allow myself to go and I stood in my own way for far too long, I had to save myself. That part of my life was over. I am way more confident than I’ve ever been and far more grateful for my opportunities I’ve been given as well as my struggles that made me stronger. I am now going to grad school to to get my Masters and Educational Specialist degree in school psychology as well as working as a part time teacher and behavior interventionist. Success is no accident. It is hard work, dedication, perseverance, learning, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or what you are learning to do. Stay Strong.