How I Became Who I Am

Rock bottom: not the most comfortable place, but I’ve grown accustomed to it through some traumatic experiences.

A perfect example is my freshman year in high school. That year was great academically and socially, but mentally and emotionally, it was draining. For one thing, transitioning into a new school with fifteen times more people than my private junior high was tough, especially going from a private school to a public one. To make the transition worse, I lost four loved ones that year, and I started shutting down. With two of the deceased, they didn’t speak any English, so I could never communicate personally with them. They were my Italian great aunt and uncle.

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Though there was a language barrier, I could tell that they could see a caring virtue in me, and they always tried to explain it to me, but never could. Being hit by those unfortunate deaths and devastation, I knew by my reaction that I had a natural sense of caring for others. Later, when my preschool teacher, Rita, and good friend, Mary, died of cancer, I broke. Their deaths made my life exhausting, but their words still resonate within me. They always said how loving, gentle and caring I was to others, and I—being young and foolish—did not fully comprehend exactly what they were saying until they were gone. Thanks to them, I am the person I want to be, but I never realized this until all of them were gone.

I want people to see who I am as a result of their deaths, not the path that got me here. I want them to see that it’s the pain that I’ve overcome and the lessons I have learned from them in their lives that define me as a genuinely caring individual. I’m caring, not because of the pain I endured, but rather what I learned from it. Though I don’t show it, my pain is still there. It’s not the pain and loss that defines me, rather it’s the realization of who I am because of the tears and heartbreak.

Rock bottom is a necessary evil, and only when you hit your lowest point are you ready to build back up to the top.