Made It This Far

4 April 2019

I never thought I’d make it far enough in life to write a scholarship essay-let alone an essay that asks for my life’s story. It’s not that I ever thought I wouldn’t succeed in my life, I was born with enough privilege that college was always an option. It’s more the fact that I’ve lived long enough, lived through everything I have and am able to not only write this, but to also be able to look into the future and see something. This is the story of my life, with all it’s incumbent ups and downs, the ones from the past and the future.

I was born February 25th 1998,the day after a snowstorm and two weeks early, in Syracuse New York. In the hospital, the doctors told my parents that I had a hole in my heart between the four ventricles-a condition that effects about only 1 in 25,000 children without Down Syndrome- and that they would have to operate within a month. Recently my dad told me that had I been born just ten days earlier I would most likely have died. WellI lived and when I was a month old, I did not need to have the heart surgery. For three years I was a healthy child, one who loved to run around the yard chasing my older siblings and have tea parties with my stuffed animals. That all changed though, when it was decided that the heart surgery my doctors had postponed due to the risks and the rest of myhealth, wasnecessary and that the risk level would not decrease as I got older. In July 2001, I underwenta repair of my AV canal-a surgery that as it turns out would set into motion what I think of as the domino effect of my life.

Made It This Far Essay Example

After four days, I left the hospital as hale and happy as ever, insisting to my dad that I pull my own suitcase. Ahead of me was a life full of opportunities just like that of any three year old. Unmarredby trips to the emergency room or frequent hospital visits for various procedures-little did anyone who knew me know just how much that would change. Seven months went by, during which time I grew as any normal toddler should, but then on February 11th 2002, I collapsed during my gym class and was rushed to the hospital. No one wanted to say it was a stroke. The doctors in the emergency room, ran tests for diabetes, looked for low blood sugar, anything to explain my sudden collapse. It was only when they put me in the MRI machine, that my dad’s fear was realised. The images of my brain revealed a blood clot located deep within the right hemisphere of my brain. The doctors administered a drug to dissolve the clot but it had no effect. I was transferred to the ICU where after more tests it was determined that my body had dissolved the clot on its own, but that there was also resulting damage to the part of my brain that had been deprived of oxygen.

I think certain people in my family would like me to make the rest of this essay about how I overcame the great struggle of growing up with a disability, but I am more than my stroke. Still I have to admit, many of my interests resulted as a form of coping, even if they have evolved from that. When I was in elementary and middle school, I felt as if I needed to hide, that all that made kids stare or make fun of me, was something to be ashamed of. I found my refuge in books, especially in the pages of Harry Potter. Those seven books became a sanctuary, a place where I would always have friends, however in my hiding, my conceptions of fiction and reality became blurred. For years I had convinced myself I was a wizard and that when I turned eleven I would be whisked away to my real home. When the truth finally came out, something inside me broke, I’m not sure of how else to explain it. I stopped believing in magic and the world became dark for me. I started counting down the days until I wouldn’t be alive anymore. My certainty of belief had been shattered, and with it came a cold flood of reality that I couldn’t handle. Through seventh and eighth grade I held it together as best as I could, presenting to the world as a withdrawn cold person, who was not under any circumstances be messed with. Then the summer before ninth grade, the straw that decimated any hope I still had fell.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with my body, ever since I watched the puberty movie in fifth grade, I felt a kind of distance with my body. I thought there was something wrong with me, I shouldn’t be wanting to hide my chest or want to grow a beard. It was wrong, and so I did everything in my power to hide it, in the day I worked extra hard to seem flowery, but at night, I would hide from my reflection in the bathroom mirror. After a while I convinced myself that I could deal with it all, that having a chest wasn’t too bad and that I could handle it. Like I said, this tactic worked until the summer before I started ninth grade, the summer that I began to break. Do you know what it’s like to wake up one day and have all the walls you’d put up to protect yourself come crumbling down? I woke up one July morning, planning to go about my day as normal. I didn’t realise anything was wrong, my stomach hurt a little but it had been on a constant low level of pain for months, I only figured out what was going on, when I went to the bathroom and saw the blood.That rest of the day was spent laying in bed, coming to terms with my new lot in life. I just remember feeling so hopeless, so alone, and it’s a feeling that hung on to me all through that school year. I pushed my friends away, my family away, I felt that there was no one who I could trust. So looking back it’s not surprising that I tried to overdose that January and it was only my lack of knowledge about pills that saved me. And it’s not surprising that the day my mom took me bra shopping, the day I couldn’t stop crying in the fitting room, is the day I left my house and called the police because I thought I would hurt someone.

Anger is fear turned outward. I read that somewhere once, and that’s what must have happened that night, except I was still scared, I wanted to hurt others and then I wanted to hurt myself. To end myself, my pitiful existence on this earth. Thank God I didn’t. Oh thank God I didn’t, because that July, on a night I couldn’t sleep, I found magic again. With magic I found hope again, and I found my passion. Passion, obsession, love, whatever it is you call the driving force in your life is what I found that night. I found exactly what I am supposed to do with my life. Funny thing is I’m doing it right now, in the action of creating this essay I am indulging my craft. Writing, putting pen to paper or fingers to keys and creating stories. Doing that, it makes me happy, just that simple kind of happiness you know? That kind of happiness you get when you see your best friend smile. That’s what I feel when I write, and I know that I want to feel like this for the rest of my life. That I want to write for the rest of my life. To write and learn more about writing and teach it to others, that’s all I want from life. This came to me that night in July, the night I started writing my book, the night I began to put myself back together.

When school started back up in the fall, I was determined to make the year good. I started by making amends, by talking to my friends about what had happened, I finally hugged my friend who I had never let touch me before, and I hugged other people too. I stepped up as co-president to my schools Harry Potter club-getting into many passionate debates about trivia questions and the meaning of the story- I also took newthe position of secretary in my school’s GSA and began exploring my gender identity insecret -in my head I had compiled a list of objections my parents would have. Despite my burgeoning stage-frightI participated in my school’s Shakespeare Monologue competition again, and placed third in the first annual Poetry Out Loud competition. Throughout the year I wrote, even submitting some old work to Scholastic and winning an honourable mention. But the real experience of the year didn’t happen until May.

Champlain College Young Writer’s Conference. My creative writing teacher had mentioned it once and on a hunch I applied. If I could recount every moment of that weekend I would, but all I remember, are the people I met and the keynote speaker. The people who all seemed so comfortable with themselves and their identity, but also Terry Tempest Williams, who in their keynote told all of us that it was alright to be angry at the world. That we shouldn’t just hold it all in and should let it out. They are what inspired me to not only enter the poetry slam where I realised for the first time that my stroke hadn’t hindered my life but actually made it better,and they were also a source of inspiration and bravery when I finally came out to my parents as trans. Of course they had objections and questions, the main one being “Are you sure this isn’t because you had a stroke you think you’d fit in better as a guy?” After many assurances I convinced them to let me see a gender therapist and began my next journey.

The following year was one of the best in my life. Not only was I the sole president of the Harry Potter club, but I also had the support of my friends and teachers as I came out. I submitted writing to Scholastic again and four of my pieces got recognised, with two silver keys and two honourable mentions. With encouragement from my creative writing teacher-I participated in the monologue competition once more and again placed third in Poetry Out Loud and finished the first draft of my novel. I even went to prom, something I never thought I would do, and of course persuaded my parents to let me return to Champlain Writer’s conference. In fact when I went back,that same spirit of the previous year-that feeling of yelling out to the world “I BELONG” -infected me and allowed me to make even more connections with the people I met and when I once again got picked for the poetry slam my poem very much embodied that very spirit and won. I don’t think I’d ever been as happy or light, strange as it might sound, as I was on that stormy night. Looking back on it, while thinking about attending this year, I realise that this place means so much to me, because it was a place where I could feel the magic I’ve always known existed. It was a place that felt like home.

My family moved to California, this last summer, and I am spending my senior year in a new school. I’m not going to lie and say the transition was easy, but it did give me the opportunity to begin my transition. As of the moment I am typing this, I have been on hormone replacement therapy for three weeks and while some people in my family still hold doubts, I no longer feel as chained by the monster of depression and feel like I can finally speak in more situations than those that are charged with pent up feelings and adrenaline. I still have my bad days but things don’t seem as hopeless as they used to, even just two weeks on, I can see a bright future ahead, and know for certainty in this indescribable way, that my choice was the right one.

So, now you know my story. I also hope by reading this you also got to know me, and saw just a glimpse of how I see the world. Life is made up of various challenges and moments of success, and everyone has their own journey to live by. What defines a person though is not all they have been through, but how they have come out of it, and what they have learned from everything. Like I said in the beginning, I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d live this long, and I’m just so happy that I have and that I get to have the privilege of experiencing whatever comes next, good or bad. Because I know that everything happens for a reason, and each experience changes my life, and I choose that change is for the better.

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