We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofCristian Alvarez

I was a very self-conscious person regarding my physical appearance in middle school; it wasn't just a lack of confidence. I hated myself, specifically with my body weight. I struggled to love myself. I became trapped and isolated in that mindset; it just felt wrong to be angry at myself. I would starve myself and not eat for hours or even a day. I would fake the times I would eat with my parents, so they didn't know what was happening to me. I suppose all things come to light, right? They found my passed-out body on the bathroom floor and drove me to the ER. When I woke up, I had excruciating pain in my eye. It turns out as I was passing out, I hit my eye on one of the sink's handles, cutting my eyeball. When I was released from the hospital, my parents gave me a long talk about the danger of what I was doing. I couldn't believe them. I wouldn't even believe myself. 

A couple of weeks passed before I met Deandrey; he was a tutor assigned to me at school. He was the type of man that you could just sit and listen to all your problems. I think that's what I most needed, someone to listen to me, someone to understand me. Over time he became a close friend of mine. He was always there to help me out with anything. Eventually, he spoke to me about self-confidence. He reminded me of my self-worth. He told me there was no need for me to change, but I wanted to change. I wanted to be different. He accepted it and helped me pursue a path that would not hurt me. He introduced me to boxing and weight lifting. 

I instantly fell in love with it. Day after day, I would practice in sports, loving it each time I did it. Soon after that, I dropped my habit of starving myself. I started to eat better. I began to look at myself and think, wow, you look better kid. Deandrey would cheer me on to keep on doing it more and never quit. From that day on, I boxed and weight lifted every day. Now, I look better than ever and sometimes wonder what would have happened if Deandry was not there to support me and to help me through my darkest time. That is why I will always be grateful for him.

© Cristian Alvarez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.