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2014 NJCTS Children’s Scholarship Award Essay: “Forge Ahead”

This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2014 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!

As a person who lives with Tourettes and ADHD day in and day out, I see it as a blessing rather than an obstacle. Yes, growing up with Tourettes was hard and, yes, people told me there would be certain things I couldn’t do, such as pitching for a baseball team or sitting in a normal class room, but that didn’t stop me from trying and ultimately succeeding. Tourettes has given me much more than anything I could have asked for. It has given me a work ethic, a greater respect for my body and mind and a will to succeed at all costs.

I remember like it was yesterday, standing in my back yard, baseball glove in one hand ball in the other. I would practice standing still from the stretch for hours, Making sure I didn’t twitch so the imaginary base runners wouldn’t advance. It was one of the main reasons why I wasn’t allowed to pitch in games, I would be called for a balk. It was a habit of mine to twitch while standing still for a few seconds. Coaches wouldn’t allow me to pitch again.

So I decided to fix this problem myself or try to overcome it. I developed a work ethic at a very young age from this; and it has paid dividends once I went to high school. I now proudly say from work ethics, I am the ace of my school pitching staff and I am one of the top 5 pitchers in my county.

As for academics, I am not number one in my class but I am a tremendously hard working student. Working hard has rewarded me with maintaining a 4.0 GPA in high school and making honor roll every year. I’m proud to say that Tourettes has not prevented me from doing what I love, instead of dwelling, I conquered!

Furthermore, Tourettes has instilled a trust within my mind and body, Coaches can read my face when I feel like I’m losing control of my body. A big joke is where in world has Michael gone? I look inside my mind and go to a safe place where nothing or no one can make me twitch.

A place that I have control and everything is safe and I pitch with ease. I know that nothing comes easy in life and in order to succeed you must work hard. Tourettes has taught me that. Nobody can take away the fact that I have overcome so much and still continue to do so. I wouldn’t change a thing in the world if I had the chance. I welcome adversity because it is just another obstacle that pushes rne to succeed.

My mind and body work hand in hand and when I am fully concentrated, I know Tourettes will not slow me down if I want the end result bad enough. People love to have doubts and the best way to shut these people up is to accomplish something extraordinary, and although doing well in school and sports settings isn’t anything too special, it still made people eat their words.

When there is a brick wall in the way, a person has two options, give up or break the wall down. Tourettes is that brick wall standing in my way, I chose not to turn my back and give up, but rather do everything it took to thrive in that certain situation. Nowadays, people quit on things like its nothing, which is unacceptable in my life.

You cannot let something get in the way of whatever it is you want. You make your own story, your own destiny, no one else can. Having Tourettes has given me that will to succeed; it’s given me the ability to go an extra mile to get my end result. I credit Tourettes for much of the accomplishments in my life; it goes to show that hard work truly does pay off.

As my years have been short, my accomplishments have been great and I plan to tackle the rest of my life with the same force and learn to overcome the obstacles Tourettes may continue to put in front of me. One day I plan on being a role model for young children especially boys who are afuaid of what the diagnosis of Tourettes could mean to them. Forge ahead and you can make anything happen in your life and continue to knock down those brick walls.

MichaelZ

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