This story is by a guest writer, that we would like to keep anonymous.
My story may be familiar to some of you who are reading it or completely foreign to others, I am a high school drop out. There is a certain stigma associated with being a high school drop out. Some people will say we are stupid, worthless, and that we are going nowhere in life. While the decision I made to drop out of high school seemed like the only option at the time, it is one I have truly regretted for a very long time. However, I no longer have regrets or self-pity. The choice was mine to make, but it was not a choice that defined me as a person. This is my story.
Growing up, I came from a poor family. Most people in my family dropped out of high school. From my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, most of them never finished high school. As a result of this, my parents held low-income jobs. There were times that our power got shut off, there wasn’t much food in the fridge, and there was never much at Christmas. While my childhood was mostly ok by emotional standards, the financial standards were less than favorable.
While attending school, I was very active in different sports and clubs. I was a cheerleader and on the student council. I was a very upbeat and social person that enjoyed spending time with my friends. However, this is when the unraveling began. My parents got divorced when I was 16-years old. My Mother had been setting up plans to divorce my Father for several years prior to the actual day she left. When I was in middle school she took me to see some apartments with her. For several years previous to this, she also set up plans for us to see a male friend of hers out of town periodically, all while reminding me not to tell my Father. After these awkward encounters, I harbored a huge amount of guilt and feelings of remorse that I had no control over.
After my Mother left when I was 16, it was just my Father and I in an empty house, and my depression began to set it. My Father was in a depressive state because his wife had left him and I felt as if I contributed to his feelings of sadness because I did not speak up and say anything to him about the man my Mother was taking me to see. Looking at my Father, I felt that I betrayed him and caused him a huge amount of sadness. My depression worsened and I was prescribed medication.
As I wrestled with these feelings of what I felt that I had done, my depression worsened to the point where I tried to commit suicide. I was hospitalized and treated at a youth facility where I completed a program for depression. When I was released, I found out people in my high school were spreading horrible rumors about me and I began to become more depressed and developed intense anxiety. Finally, after all the rumors, the giggles, and the staring, I decided that I could not handle the walls of my high school and I decided to drop out at 18 years old, with only one semester left of my high school career. Even though my family tried to convince me otherwise, there was no way that I was going back to school.
After dropping out of high school, I started partying intensely and hanging out with people that I should not have been. Fortunately, my sister offered to let me come live with her in another city so I could start fresh. The stipulations that she had were that I get my GED and find a job. Finally, after getting a good retail job and obtaining my GED, I felt like my life was finally getting back on track. I was happy because I had a wonderful support system with my sister and her family and I felt like I was talking care of myself. My sister then pushed me to pursue college because she knew I could make something of myself.
When I moved away for college, I found new opportunities and great friends. Unfortunately the freedom and the extra student loan money got the best of me and I was now a college dropout. At 18, I simply was not mature enough to attend classes because I was too busy being social and having fun. I did however, learn the hard way that life is not easy on your own. After having a part-time retail job, I found myself working full-time in a call center second shift.
The depression began to sink in because I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life and I felt very disconnected from the world and my family. At the age of 19, I found myself back into psychiatric treatments staying in-patient and in group therapy. This is where I really learned valuable coping skills and decided that I did not want to live a depressed life anymore. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage, but I wanted to change and become a more positive, less depressed person.
My life completely changed when I met my now-husband. He comes from a very tight-knit family. His parents were very good to me and let me move in with them and they started to feel like family. With the support of my husband, he pushed me to go back to school. The night before I started m first math class, I bawled my eyes out because I thought I was going to fail. The funny thing is, I aced that class, along with every other subsequent math class that I have taken.
My life did a complete 180. I went from being someone who got poor grades in high school to becoming a woman who made the Dean’s list every semester in college. With every class, there were many challenges but the rewards were huge. Through this college experience, I have gained so much confidence and happiness within myself that I never thought was possible. Overcoming the obstacles of remedial math and science classes and being another poverty student statistic, were extremely hard obstacles for me to overcome. The self-doubt I also carried within myself was also another huge hurdle for me to cross over.
But, I made it. Now I can finally say, at the age of 25, I proved the statistics wrong. Mostly, I am finally happy with myself. Sure, I still battle depression but I have learned that there are ways to manage these feelings. The biggest thing I have learned is that we really can do whatever we put our minds to. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to attend college and have a chance to change my life around. What is important in life is how we go forward after we make a mistake. I truly regretted dropping out of high school and college but I found the motivation within myself to go back and face my fears. Now, I am happier than ever and will never have to face poverty again.