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2015 NJCTS Youth Scholarship Award Essay: “Defining Myself”

This is an anonymous essay submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. We hope you enjoy it!

As I think about my journey in life so far there is a central theme of determination that truly has identified who I am. Around the third grade I became distracted just trying to manage what seemed like ridiculous and annoying random movements. These daily distractions interrupted my life as a child and so after many months of medical tests, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. The diagnosis gave me some answers and peace of mind yet I still struggled with many unanswered questions. I used to think that if I could just control the tics then I could get on with my life. However; it took medication and several types of therapy to help mask some of my tics. Sports were always a great distraction for me and became a stress releaser. I played just about any sport there was like travel soccer, baseball, lacrosse and eventually power lifting. While on the field I was free to be me and my opponents simply focused on the athlete in me and not necessarily the boy with Tourette’s. I have personally experienced the positive impact that sports can have on your confidence and sense of personal achievement. I have also witnessed the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment experienced through working as part of a team.

Furthermore, I have experienced roadblocks such as being asked to take study hall instead of wood shop and endured the brutality of bullying due to my condition. By the way, I took wood shop and earned an “A”. Fortunately, I have also always had the benefit of being part of a very close family which has motivated me to stand up for myself. They have continued to believe in me and encouraged me to be the best person that I can possibly be. I do not let difficulties stop me from succeeding, but accept the challenge to remain focused on my goals.

Staying focused on personal goals gives me purpose. I know that so much can be learned from sharing personal experiences with others. This gives us the insight to realize that even though we come from different backgrounds, origins or statuses that we all face many challenges. These challenges may not be obvious at first sight but they shape the people we have become. I know my perception of others has changed especially while working with special needs kids. Through the special needs soccer program I have experienced firsthand how a sense of accomplishment can brighten the face of a child. Each person has the ability to impact another person’s life and talents to share.

Finally, I think that having Tourette’s has made me even more determined to prove that I am so much more than a person with a condition. I am a person who sets goals and works tirelessly to reach those goals. I know that hard work and passion are what defines me. I will continue to follow my path to discover my destiny.

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