“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
I was diagnosed with learning disabilities when I was in single digits. I struggled a lot in school with reading, writing and comprehension. Basically anything that meant I could be “successful” was hard, including math. So, I acted out. On top of it all, I was figuring out my sexuality and was struggling to find role models or friends who “got it.” Add in a dash of death and divorce and you’ve got the equation for disaster.
In middle school and high school I was stuck in the special education classes. Talk about the worst thing on Earth for me! I was lost. I was being overlooked and no one cared. I started dating a girl and skipping classes. I was drifting and again no one noticed or asked what was up with me. Rather, they sent me to detention and expelled me. The teachers had no idea what to do with me.
At 17 I made the biggest decision of my life. I chose to go live with my father, change schools and start to get myself on the right track. Moving flipped a switch for me. I started to get better grades and I made the decision, along with my family, that I would enroll at a local community college.
This was my defining moment.
I started taking classes and getting A’s and B’s. This wasn’t in my plan but I did it. I was finally finding my way. One day in an abnormal psychology class I found Clark University in a book. It’s the only place Sigmund Freud visited in the US. I decided this was my place. So, I Googled it and set my sights on what seemed like an impossible feat: gaining admission.
“You will never get into Clark University. Your SAT scores aren’t good. How could they let you in?” they said.
When I went for a visit I met with the director of admissions and he squarely looked us in the face and said “SAT scores don’t matter for transfer students. She is doing well in all her classes, is involved and has the desire. She’ll get in.”
We were shocked. I was proud and elated. It gave me confidence. I was sure I was going to Clark – so sure that I bought a sweatshirt on my next visit. Months went by without a word but finally the day came and I got the letter.
I got in!
The good news was that I not only was accepted to Clark but to every damn school I applied. I hadn’t done anything special except believe in myself and work hard in my community college. I was elated.
To this day I feel good about my decision to attend Clark because here I am ten years later on a journey to obtaining my PhD and NO ONE thought that would EVER happen. But it’s happening. Every day I move closer to being called ‘Dr.’
Why am I telling you this? Because you should never give up on your goals and dreams. You should always follow your heart because you know best. You know what you are capable of and no one can take that from you. If I had given up on myself in high school, who knows where I’d be now. Who knows what my current life would be like. Instead of wondering how life might have turned out, I thank myself every day for following my path and my desire rather than succumbing to something else.
I’m living proof that even if you come from nothing you can make something special of your life. I did and you can, too. If that bratty teenager can rise above her challenges, then anything is possible. Turning my life on its head by following my magic and living up to my internal potential has proven to be quite amazing for me. I know it can be just as amazing for you!