Throughout my almost 18 years of my life, I have matured faster than other kids, because of Tourette Syndrome. Tourette’s comes in the form of “tics” in which the disease operates. In my explanation, it’s a feeling that nags me until I finally tic, or in the analogy’s case, itch my body. The earliest sign was in 3rd grade. My teacher made a call to my parents; I was shooting my hand up and punching the air. My parents took me to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where I was officially diagnosed.
I attended a small Catholic school for 9 years. I decided to speak to the entire class about Tourette’s and answered all their questions. That experience led me (with my parents’ help) to contact our town Mayor. I presented a proclamation to Gloucester Township residents. June 7th was declared Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day, and this kept my interest in educating others about Tourette’s.
Summers at my grandmothers’ shore house was always a safe place for me. None of my worries would bother me at the Jersey shore and my anxiety and tics would subside. I enjoyed being there so much that I decided I was going to attend Ocean City High School. I would soon realize how much I appreciated my modest community of classmates at my old school. Now I was attending a school with complete strangers who did not know me and had no history with me.
Ocean City High School was in fact a high school, and with those high school kids came immaturity. My 5th day of school I was asked if I had Tourette’s by complete strangers. I knew this attention was not positive.
I was doing well academically, freshman year alone I was in 2 Honors courses and keeping straight A’s and B’s. Sophomore year I was established and ready for a normal, stress-free year… then Covid hit. Fall of my junior year, I started a job at our local hardware store. This position gave me a chance to leave the house during Covid and work with adults in the workforce.
I started my senior year thinking about what I want to pursue in college. I became heavily invested in the 2020 Election. And that is when I realized I wanted to pursue a degree in Political Science. After attending some college open houses, I found my school upon visiting Rutgers University. Their political science program is unlike anything in New Jersey. Being in North Jersey and close to Manhattan, it is diverse, and I can meet individuals from different backgrounds, religions, nationalities, races, and gender identities.
Taking a chance to attend a different high school pushed me to face challenges and start anew. While TS tormented me in the early years of my life, it has not defined me but taught me the value of self-appreciation and acceptance of others. I am stronger as an individual and I will be unstoppable in achieving my goals in life.