Dylan was a first place winner of the 2019 NJCTS Scholarship Award.
This is the essay he included with is application.
I wake up every morning with one question circling my mind. Will today be a good day or a bad day? I imagine many people do the same, but usually they think of whether or not their test will go over well, or if their soccer team can pull out another win. My question doesn’t get to be like that. Instead I question how many times a day I will pound my chest, slap the table in front of me, or punch my knuckles into each other. A good day is when I get to lay my head back down where I asked myself this question and my teeth don’t hurt from clenching them together and my eyes aren’t sore from squeezing them shut.
One thing never fails to get me through the bad days, and that’s the future. Whether the future is the possibility of a good day tomorrow, or obtaining my dream job in upcoming years. My dream job of becoming a filmmaker. In the past couple of years I learned how to actually use a camera and discovered I wasn’t half bad at it, and as my tics got worse I knew I always had a place to escape to through the lense of my camera. Most days I feel like I have no control over my body, like I’m the new robotic toy of a toddler still learning how to control it by pressing every button at once, but I know that when I hold my camera I have control over every aspect of it. I am able to take moments that I see and share them with others. Moments of pure excitement and happiness. Moments where I am not worried about my tics and which one will come next and who will be able to see me doing them. Moments where I can truly be myself.
I love filming and creating videos but at times my tics get the best of me and make me question why I even bother trying to get over them. I get to enjoy myself the most when I am on location shooting the videos that I have imagined in my head for weeks, but the most challenging part comes when I am sitting at a desk and editing my project. This tends to be the most frustrating part for many filmmakers but not for the same reasons as me. That is because I have to not let my focus slip for a second from the project I am working on, or from the muscles in my arms. When I do lose focus of my muscles I can go from working on my video, to my fist crashing into the computer screen or my hands tearing through the keyboard, ruining any progress I have made. These are the times that force me to walk away in frustration questioning why I can’t just be normal. However, these moments make me breathe, calm down, and regain my focus. They make me take a step back from my work and realize I could move a clip to fit somewhere else better, or adjust the audio that was too loud in the beginning. These moments of frustration test me but they don’t break me, they just make me work harder for what I want.
My tics are extremely frustrating and never fail to infuriate me but that doesn’t stop me from going on with my life. Tourette’s has its ups and downs but luckily I am able to have a good sense of humor about it. While there are times where I am crouched on my kitchen floor unable to stand because my brain is telling me I have to feel every muscle in my body clench at once, there are also times when me and my little brother are playing video games and we watch as my character walks straight off a level to their death and all we can do is laugh. When it comes down to it, Tourette’s controls my body but it can not control my mind. In my mind my tics are just another part of me that make me laugh when I am making a sandwich and punch the bread on the counter. In my mind my Tourette’s is not something that can hold me back, but something that gives me a story and sets me apart from everyone else around me. In my mind I am just another teenager with a dream who will stop at nothing to follow it.