This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!
l’m sitting in class and it is completely silent. l’m terrified of silence. I get an urge, an urge so powerful that I can physically feel it traveling through my body. My heart is pounding as I tell myself, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” But I have no control. The sound comes out loud and clear. The next thing I hear is giggling, snickering, mocking. I look around and I see cruel eyes glaring at me, burning holes in my skin. I feel like a bug under a microscope. I have Tourette Syndrome.
I’ve always thought of school as a battle ground; a place full of people who just don’t understand. Weekday mornings were always a struggle. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to feel inferior. I barely even understood my condition. All I knew was that I make noises and movements that were unwanted, and everybody found them funny; but I didn’t find them funny. Every insult, dirty look, and whisper knocked me down a little more, to the point where I couldn’t stick up for myself because the bullies stole my last bit of self-esteem. For once, I wanted to fit in, to not be the oddball, to be respected, to be understood. Most of all, to be accepted. Obviously, these wishes weren’t just going to be handed over, that’s unfortunately not how the world works. My family and I wanted things to be different; but we would have to make the difference ourselves.
I decided, as a terrified ten year old, to educate the whole school on my condition. lt was something I never thought I could do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Each class watched a movie explaining Tourette Syndrome, and then I went in and answered questions that they had. Standing up in front of the first class, I had never been so nervous in my life. But as the day went on, it got a little easier. I could feel confidence growing in me again. I could feel that fire; the fire that was put out by the people who I once feared.
In just one day, I went from being taunted, to being admired. people are actually more accepting than I could have ever imagined. The world is brighter than I ever thought it could be. That day was so successful that I’ve done the same presentation all throughout middle school and high school. I now have thicker skin, self confidence, and an amazing support system. I walk through school with my head held high; which is a complete revolution from staring at my feet when I walk.
It has been said that many kids with Tourette’s are musically inclined. It was in sixth grade that I finally had the confidence to be in talent shows. I remember being so nervous about the possibility of having a tic on stage, but it was the exact opposite. As soon as I opened my mouth and sang, all of the tics went away. lt was like magic. Those three minutes of “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus showed everyone, including myself, that I am more than just a girl with Tourette Syndrome” I am a senior in high school now and I still haven’t stopped singing. I went from being “the girl with Tourette’s” to “the singer”. lt was a dream come true.
Although having Tourette’s isn’t easy, l wouldn’t change it. I no longer see it as a flaw, it makes me, me. I realized that it’s not the nightmare that I thought it was. It really has shaped me into the person I am today. When a new problem arises in my life, it’s easier to handle because I’ve already faced and conquered my biggest obstacle. I have finally accepted that my Tourette’s is a part of me. However, it isn’t all of me; because I have Tourette’s but Tourette’s doesn’t have me.