It started with repetition: finding myself repeatedly alone while it seemed everyone else was together. I received a lot of bullying and taunts of “You’re going to die all alone.” In middle school, I stopped doing my school work. Instead of sitting in class concentrating on learning, my mind would wander, imagining how different the class would be if I was no longer there. During times of private work in class, I would write suicide notes. Getting through the day became difficult. I wanted help, but I had no friends, and I didn't feel comfortable reaching out to any of the adults I knew. This pattern was repeated day after day throughout middle school.
Going into high school, I had an open mind. I thought maybe people would mature and I would make friends. I was completely wrong. In fact, the opposite was true; more people in high school lead to even more bullying. Instead of being alone all the time, I decided to get a job and put all my energy into work. My job became my escape, and it was much more important to me than school. I became a waiter at a very popular restaurant in my town and for the first time in my life, I felt accepted and that I had a purpose. Coming into work and seeing that people requested me as their server was warming. I loved adults; they were mature and treated me with the utmost respect. At work, I was filled with joy, but at school, I was tortured by my peers. To cope, I completely removed myself from school. While I was there physically, I made sure to avoid anyone and anything around me. I felt at peace for the first time in my life.
Just when it seemed like there was a light at the end of my dark tunnel, I got called into the principal’s office. Someone reported that I threatened to hurt myself, and the school had to call my parents. I came home that day hoping my parents would recognize that I was struggling, but instead, they were angry. I quickly denied the allegation and after that, the topic was never brought up again. The lack of concern from my parents sent me spiraling downward, and my depression and anxiety got so bad that in January of 2017 I confided in a friend that I didn’t think life was worth living. Once again I was called into the principal’s office and my parents were called. This time my mom insisted that I be taken to the emergency room and evaluated by a psychiatrist. Nearly two weeks later, I found myself in Southern Utah at a boarding school. I would end up spending the next three months there. If you asked me how it was the first week, I would tell you it was hell. If you ask me now, it was paradise. The amount of wisdom I gained from the experiences there enabled me to believe in myself. Through mindfulness, equine therapy, and travels I learned new ways of thinking and coping, and I will use these skills for the rest of my life.
Utah gave me endless knowledge, and the ability to inspire. I want to travel the world and share my experiences in an attempt to connect with people and hand them a light in the dark tunnel they find themselves in. I believe the constant bullying I dealt with growing up was essential for my development, and I will not let that experience and the opportunities I had in Utah go to waste. One day I hope to be an advocate for the kinds of kids who need help, or just a friendly smile when they are having a bad day.