Often times when I tell people my story, I hear apologetic remarks like “I’m so sorry to hear that” or “I’m sorry that you had to go through that”. While these certainly have good intentions, I usually dismiss comments like these. I can’t even imagine the person I would be today, had it not been for Tourette syndrome. Many aspects of my personality have been shaped by my disorder. Through my struggles in my childhood, I’ve learned patience: there were times when I would have to wait for my body to be done shaking to do something that I wanted to do. I’ve learned confidence: as a nine year old, adults tend to not take you seriously, and many times I would have to explain why I was on the ground and couldn’t stand up, and convince them of the truth that I actually had Tourette syndrome. I’ve learned understanding: I cannot help but to be understanding of others going through struggles in life, or others struggling with disabilities, and to want to help people who are going through some of the same things that I’ve dealt with.
One of the most driving factors, however, is my desire to help others. The doctors had determined that my condition was so extreme that I needed brain surgery. When I was eleven I had Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), and in a matter of days, I knew that my life would be changed. The doctors and nurses who performed my operation had given me a chance at a normal life. Because of scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. I would now be able to lead a normal life. This was absolutely unheard of for me. Before the surgery I would constantly be on the ground, unable to control my actions. I was told by so many that I would never be able to live on my own, drive, hold a job, etc. Now I’m going to college, live on my own, have been able to work and have jobs, can drive, and by all standards, live a completely normal life. When I got to college, none of my friends knew about my condition, and were not able to tell, whereas before the operation anyone could tell within minutes.
As I have previously stated, I neither accept nor cherish sympathies. My experiences shaped me to be who I am today. Because of my condition, I entered a field in which I am able to give back to the field that changed my life. I hope to use my career to change lives in the same way that someone once did for me.