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!
When the word “disease” is said, overcoming is definitely not the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds. In my opinion, having Tourette’s is a battle. I have been bullied, ridiculed, and laughed at. I think a lot about the kid I could have become, that is, if I surrendered. But luckily, I didn’t.
I managed to muster the strength and courage to face my problem. In fact, I sometimes convince myself that I no longer have TS. I have accepted the fact that I will never be cured of this. So what does this mean for me? Hide behind excuses for the rest of my life? Succumb to being a nobody? Not anymore.
Ever since I entered high school, I slowly started to see the best out of every situation. I have used my tics to my advantage by channeling my energy into something positive: setting goals and achieving them. Why should I let TS get in the way of challenging myself? I found that I can use this obstacle to my advantage.
When I was in middle school, I definitely didn’t have the same optimism about having TS as I do now. Unfortunately back then, I fell into the trap of self-pity. I would always make excuses for myself. I didn’t challenge myself in school because I thought my mental abilities weren’t sufficient for mainstream classes.
My bizarre motor tics made me feel out of place and ashamed. My fear was that people would make fun of me, especially this one tic in particular (that I still have today) where I tweak my neck to the side to feel temporary relief. If I held my tics in, I felt like exploding. Often times I would tic then nonchalantly try to cover it up by using “normal” gestures, such as cracking my neck.
Once I gained the courage to move into mainstream classes in my last year of middle school, things weren’t as bad as I had anticipated.
In fact, I found that challenging myself more in school distracted me from my tics. Seeing the success I was having in courses that were more difficult than the ones I was accustomed to was a very rewarding experience.
This change I made in 8th grade has contributed enormously to the development of my work ethic today. Complaining about TS isn’t necessarily bad, because everyone gets down on themselves once in a while. However, having this misconceived notion that “TS will weigh you down for life and you will never achieve anything” is something entirely different.
Even though TS is a heavy load on me, having it gives me an incentive for me to try my absolute best. Senior year, for example, I switched into the honors English class for a simple reason: Why not? I have learned to question myself as to which feels more rewarding: accomplishing something or accomplishing something despite being burdened by an incurable condition?
Becoming so immersed with various hobbies and activities was another contributing factor that helped me to overcome. I am passionate about art, skateboarding, music and dreaming big, I’m intelligent and involved. I capitalized on my talents and abilities to the point where I actually felt normal (well, my definition of normal).
I am currently employed, a member of my school’s DECA club, involved in a church group and have a positive circle of friends. It was only until my last year of high school that I started to dream about becoming an FBI Special Agent. I do have TS, but I’m not going to let it slow me down or hold me back from dreaming and achieving, especially when it comes to having as big of an aspiration as getting a job with the FBI.
Tourette’s Syndrome has made life a lot harder to live and I will have to deal with it for life. In spite of having it, I manage to live my life with my head up and my hopes high. When I look back at the time I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome up until now, I see the small steps I took that impacted who I was to become. I can honestly say that I have no regrets.
I look forward to facing the challenges that the future holds. College for me will be an ideal place for me to push myself to the limit and thrive until I find success.