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Photo ofLorena Rodriguez

2017-2020: The start of high school and the end of my suffering in high school. This is the story of how I changed into a better version of myself. Dealing with my depression and anxiety, I didn't have a strong understanding of it. Even though I did have support, I felt alone. 

I would have shut-down moments. In my freshman math class, I would shut down at the sight of a math problem and I didn’t even let the teacher talk to me to help me. I got as quiet as a church mouse, and I heard only mumbling from those around me. I brought myself down by doubting my intelligence. I thought I wasn’t able to do the work and I started to feel anxious. My mind would completely block out the truth about how I feel and that led me to making bad decisions. For two years I couldn’t control my emotions, I couldn’t love myself, and I couldn’t be myself, which caused a lot of pain in my life. 

During my junior year, I still had to deal with my issues, as well as a recent “situationship,” and that’s when I met my counselor. I had many counselors before, but Ms. J was different. This was the moment I knew change needed to happen. In my AP class I was presenting my future board, and that caught Ms. J’s attention. She called me into her office, and we talked. Right off the bat there was outstanding energy. She really opened my mind up to seeing the surrounding negativity. She led me on a spiritual journey to find myself and see my worth, which was a slow process because I denied a lot and had to really focus on myself, which I had never done before. I had failed so many times because I had this hopelessness about many things. I felt like I was never going to change, but Ms. J would always speak to me with so much wisdom. She was truly inspiring to me, so I tried to focus on changing myself for the better. 

The start of senior year was a bit rocky since we had to learn remotely, but slowly I was getting the hang of things. December was the moment I got on the right track. I fully gave into the idea of spiritualism and surrounded myself with people who understood me. I had to cut off some people in my life that didn’t benefit me anymore, and it was a hard process, but I got through it. That month I threw out the old me and brought in the new me, feeling happier and like a weight had lifted. I became more aware of what I wanted, paid attention to my surrounding energy, and truly took time for myself. 

Overall, looking back and seeing the changes I made, I was able to educate myself. I was able to connect and understand my emotions. I helped myself in this process, but I truly appreciate Ms. J to the fullest because she got me on the right track. In the future there will be more challenges, but I will be ready this time. My past doesn't define me. It made me the person I am today and taught me the lesson that time heals you if you just wait it out. Everything can seem like a mess at the moment, but trust in the process of improving yourself and don’t give up on yourself. The worst thing you can do is lose yourself because it will truly be harder to find your way back. Keep believing in you and don’t forget who you are. 

As Natsu, the protagonist of the anime Fairy Tail said, “Don’t give up, the beginning is always the hardest, so let’s keep going until the very end.”

© Lorena Rodriguez. 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.