Reality check: Introspection leads to mental, emotional freedom

Everyone struggles with something, especially in high school. Maybe your grades aren’t exactly what you want or you’re struggling with problems at home or with your friends. Life can be a bit overwhelming, so I want to share what I’ve learned about how to deal with troubling times.

First, let me tell you a little about myself. I’m a senior this year, second in my class. After graduation, I plan on attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland on a scholarship to study medicine. I’ve been an officer in at least two clubs every year since I was a sophomore, and a member in many more. I compete in academic events in everything from public speaking to news writing, and I have a binder of awards and recognitions the size of a small book.

That’s the person I want everyone to see – a good student with a happy family, accomplished, humble, and always ready for a challenge. Some people just see that side of me and think I don’t have any issues – they’re wrong. The truth is that I struggle with a lot of things. I have problems thinking I’m good enough and I find myself trying to maintain that perfect image of who everyone expects me to be.

In reality, I make mistakes and go through hardships. My parents divorced when I was four, I lost a friend to cancer at 12, I’ve been kicked out of home more times than I care to remember, and I’ve had more bad encounters with the police than I care to admit.

That’s the truth, and I know some of you have it worse than I do. The point is that for every little success I’ve had there are at least two colossal failures I’ve had to overcome. I’ve given up on trying to find an easy way through life, because life isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter who you are, hardship will eventually find you. Nobody leaves this world untouched, but it’s how you handle those hardships that define who you are. It’s about getting up after you get hit, turning the other cheek, and getting ready to be hit again. I promise you that no matter what, you can always get up.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because we can’t live life alone. Everyone has a coping mechanism – drugs, self harm, or even Netflix. I’m telling you from personal experience, the best way to deal with life is by reaching out to someone you trust. For me, I turn to God and my friends because I know they will always be there for me. Find someone who can walk with you, I promise you’ll be glad you did. Remember, though, don’t count on someone else to make you happy, that’s something you have to do on your own.

That’s what I’ve learned. I’m not perfect. I listen to Green Day as much as I listen to Toby Mac, and I fail way more than I succeed. Every experience I’ve been through has made me who I am today, and I’m incredibly blessed and thankful for my crazy beautiful life. Don’t ever doubt that you’re important. You have the power to change the world and the world is a better place because of you. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, learn from them and become stronger. The biggest realization I came to? People make mistakes, we aren’t perfect, but there is beauty in our imperfection. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not a good person, and I’m not a bad person. I’m a person, and that’s good enough for me.