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Who Am I?

By , Oak Lawn, IL
It’s a late night in October and a little girl, about seven, is sitting on her bed in tears. Her father is nowhere to be found. She trembles at every little sound she hears, a creek in the floors, the wind blowing in, everything is keeping her up. That night she realized it was time to grow up. No more nights would be spent in fear and tears. That little girl sitting in her bed crying was me when I was seven years old. At a young age my mom left, leaving all the work to my dad who could barely take care of himself. That’s the last night I let myself be weak. As I look back at the events in my life I wonder if I would have become the same person I am now without those events. The struggles I have faced made me a strong and independent woman. Each experience had important issues that made me learn how to deal with anything life would throw at me.
Nobody denies being a child is a time of laughter and play time, but not for this girl. During my young years, I was stuck doing all sorts of chores and having the stress of taking care of my family on my shoulders. At the young age of two my mother left me along with my five year old brother and my dad. At the time I wouldn’t have know what was going on but I soon realized my life would not be the same. Play time was over by the time I was about seven years old. My dad was working two or three shifts in a row so I had to take it upon myself to grow up. The nights that I would sit awake in my bed I could hear my dad crying.
“Why me God? What did I do to deserve this? I need some help some guidance please! I can’t do this alone!” I never understood what my dad had done wrong and why he was asking for help. All I knew was that I couldn’t let him do it alone. Instead of playing with my Barbie dolls, I was doing laundry and cooking dinner. I never thought I would have to grow up so fast but it was the only option I had. I could hear my dad asking for help but with most stories help would not come. My daddy needed me, so I said goodbye childhood, and hello adult world.
With the passage of time, money became even tighter in my little household. Just buying groceries was a challenge. Having to pay for school, clothes, and any bills made my dad worry if he could really keep doing this. Since my sophomore year of high school I have been getting very sick and the sickness would last for a long time. I walked into register for senior year with the fear that I wouldn’t be able to attend because my dad was just swamped with bills. It’s embarrassing to say but this year for the second time in my life, my dad had to file for bankruptcy. Having that talk with my dad was very hard to handle.
“Lauren things are going to be pretty tight for the rest of this year; I won’t be able to buy anything for about 3 more weeks.” He said.
“Dad what’s going on, I don’t understand, where is all our money going, why can’t you afford to buy me food. I can’t eat ramen noodles anymore!” I cried.
“Lauren I know it’s hard to understand and hard for me to talk about but I am filing for bankruptcy so all my bills will get caught up and we will have no worry about all the late fees I’d usually have to pay.” He replied. The last time my dad was so far in debt was when I was seven, leaving me to grow up. Well that toll has hit me once again. All summer long I searched for a job and I finally got one at Old Navy. I deal with the everyday stress my dad deals with such as paying for food and the mortgage but also with school, dance, and a job of my own. I am like no other teenager my age. I am seventeen years old and I have to pay for my own food. The biggest wake up call for my father was when I was sent to the hospital because I had lost so much weight that I fainted in class. Life is never easy for anyone but it seems as if the world is trying to challenge how much strength I really have.
Tragically life is unpredictable, sometimes you get handed gold but other times you are handed a shovel and told to get back to work. I have worked very hard and have taken all heart breaking details of my life with a smile. I am a strong and independent woman who will never regret the life she was given. I have gone through hell my entire life and now it’s the worst. I have learned that I am a strong woman and there is nothing in this world that I cannot do. If I have to work in order to pay for my own food then I will do just that. I will work as hard as possible in school in hope of writing my own ticket to college. Though I was forced to grow up I’ve learned many things that teenagers never have to face until they are in their late twenty’s early thirty’s. I am unlike any other teenager you will meet. I will never take a hardship as a failure. Anything that life has thrown at me shows how strong and independent I have become. Without those events I would never had experienced tough times and learned how to deal with them. I am thankful for all I have and all I’ve worked for. If I didn’t have to work so hard for it I’m sure it wouldn’t mean so much. I have grown into a strong and independent young woman that one day will show the world that nothing will ever hold her back.





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