Since I was five years old, I have had motor and verbal tics, a form of Tourette’s Syndrome. In elementary school, some kids would pick on me or ask me why my tics were so severe. Sometimes I would be afraid to do the tics around others because I feared how they would react. Although the tics sometimes hurt me physically or make it hard to read at night time, over the years I have embraced them as a part of me, which has not been easy.

I now have the self-confidence and energy to be myself in every scenario, around any group of people. I truly believe that my success in the classroom, the pool, and other facets of my life can actually be attributed to my tics and what I have had to overcome in daily life.

When I think of meaningful experiences in my life, I can’t help but think about the support I have gotten from family and friends over the years. That support has always given me the confidence to be myself! There was a time when I was struggling with getting words out, almost like a block or stutter. I remember how supportive my coach was telling me to relax and take a deep breath. Not only did it make me feel better, but it helped everyone around me be more supportive, just relax and be patient.

In third grade I remember my tics being particularly bad, especially a head tilt/shoulder shrug. My teacher was so supportive in allowing me to wear a winter beanie cap in class because that counter pressure made me feel more comfortable and helped me fight off the urges. Ultimately, my great support system has always inspired me to be ME!! I know that I am a unique person and I have proven that I can overcome adversity and strive for greatness. Even though there might be medical ways to eliminate my tics, I want to keep them as a reminder of how I am a unique person and I can overcome anything! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!