Virginia Williams

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” noted Einstein.

As a child, I felt convinced that I was not “smart enough.” I have Tourette’s disorder, and my tics were so distracting that I could not finish timed tests, and homework would take ages. Sometimes I felt isolated because few people understood.

Most of my close friends and family members know that I have Tourette’s Syndrome because I have told them, yet few have ever seen the challenges that it presents because I have learned through therapy to hide the tics when I am around others so that I do not distract them. It would be easy to give in to the embarrassment, anxiety, and feeling of loss of control it sometimes causes, but I don’t have time for that. I have my moments, but in general I have to manage them to move forward in life in a way that works for me. I have too many things I want to do and accomplish.

To address this issue, for my Girl Scout Gold Award, I designed a Peace Out Path to give others a place of calmness where they can escape regardless of their circumstances. I developed my idea in eighth grade through a nonprofit business project to make a pathway to relieve stress because anxiety is a problem that affects everyone, and it can interfere with work, school, relationships, and physical health. My path consists of eight signs, each with a unique relaxation technique, including imagery, listening, laughter, muscle relaxation, breathing, and slowing down. The signs on the trail are enhanced by the beautiful scenery of our community park. My goal involves giving people a free place of relief since many cannot afford counseling and to encourage people to get outside. Research has shown that simply spending time in a natural setting is a great way to relax and with the Covid-19 outbreak, many are realizing the importance of our parks and natural spaces. The number of people walking the path has grown exponentially since last spring as everyone is trying to bond with their families and to literally move outside of their homes to relieve the feelings of quarantine and isolation. My Peace Out Path reflects my desire to help others decrease their anxiety as they move through life’s marathon of challenges.

I realize now that everyone has struggles and insecurities, even if they hide them. I look out for people who seem excluded because I have been there. By completing my Gold Award I was able to improve my own skills of leading, problem solving, and taking responsibility, while giving back to the community.

My hope for the future is that there will eventually be a cure for Tourette’s, as well as other illnesses which are often overlooked. Until that time, decreasing anxiety is part of the treatment and possibly the prevention of many disorders.