My mom nudges me awake. I’m burrowed deep in my blankets and I struggle toward consciousness. As my mind surfaces, my first thought is my presentation on the Cold War in Modern World History period eight. “Crap.” The anxiety builds as I brush my teeth. The uneasiness grows as I walk towards my friends huddled in the science hallway. The fear churns my stomach as eighth period gets closer. Most people’s number one fear is public speaking but for me, it’s even worse because I have Tourette Syndrome. I live my life in a constant state of anxiety; anxiety that someone is judging me; anxiety that someone is mocking me. Entering Mrs. Stork’s classroom, I feel my blood rushing to my head as if I were hanging upside down. My face becomes red as a tomato. I imagine the questions in my classmate’s heads: Why do you stick your tongue out? Why are you so weird?

In kindergarten, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. The first tic I remember is sticking my tongue out. It wasn’t painful but I thought people were looking at me. Then in third grade kids started mocking me. Mrs. White had to give the class a lesson on Tourette’s. That stopped kids until middle school when people were just mean. Sitting in class I would always be nervous someone would be looking at me while I was doing a tic. The anxiety of going to school distracted me from focusing 100 percent of the time.

I always feel different, like I don’t belong. But growing up one week out of the year all of those feelings went away. Every year I was lucky enough to attend Camp Connect, Brainy Camps