“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”, this seemingly simple quote by Albert Einstein may just sound like another inspirational post on Facebook, however, this perfectly explains my outlook on life.
Beginning as a freshman in high school I began to notice sudden changes, an inability to focus, sensitivities, and the beginning of motor tics. At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome. At first, I was embarrassed and afraid of something I truly did not understand, however, in a way having Tourette’s has shaped me into the person I am today.
Medications and stress control were the prescribed form of treatment. However, I felt little to no change in my symptoms. At the time of my diagnosis, I was working for a horse trainer in my town. My boss as well as myself began to notice that when I was on horseback or even just around the horses, my symptoms were lessened. For a brief moment in time, I felt like I could focus on one thing and not be distracted or worried about everything in my environment. I felt like I could breathe.
I realized that in order to not be completely overcame by my motor tics, I would have to continually live a healthy lifestyle that alleviates stress. My first year in college was not this way. I was balancing a heavy class load, being involved with the Texas Tech Equestrian Team, and experiencing all of the pressures of being a first-year college student. This caused my symptoms to increase exponentially. The stares I would get in the hallways of the dorms and my professors constantly asking if I was okay, was embarrassing at first, but it offered me a chance to explain what Tourette’s Syndrome was. Now do not get me wrong, I maintained good grades and did have some memorable experiences, but something was missing. Going from a very busy independent life, to just having school and being constantly surrounded by people was a change.
Once we were asked to leave campus because of the COVID-19 outbreak, I knew I had to make a change. This year I have made it a point to take time to myself and prioritize what brings me happiness and fulfillment. I currently work twenty hours a week, have a full class load, and have my own horse with me. Yes, my schedule is busy, but above all I am happy. This time last year I would have never imagined I would have grown so much as an individual. Every night when I got to ride my horse, I cannot help but sit back, take a deep breath in, and be thankful for all the challenges I have overcome, to make me who I am today.