an unexpected next step

an open letter by abby mcfarland. These past few months have been different. Not necessarily bad, just unexpected. With my junior year of high school coming to a close, all that has been on my mind is how the rest of my life is going to be set up. Just last week I was informed that I had to start my college applications, specifically the personal essay. But with these personal essays come personal questions. Since I am in College Possible (a group that helps guide you through ACT prep and actually applying to college and scholarships), I was given a packet of questions about my personal life in order to prepare me for the essay. Questions such as “What is your biggest struggle?” sent me into a nosedive, falling far and fast into my past. “What do you consider to be your biggest struggle in your life?” For such a simple question, I couldn’t think of an answer that fully depicted the hardest times of my life. I’m forced to share my lowest lows with strangers that will never meet me face to face, but are judging on whether or not I am qualified enough to pay thousands of dollars to attend their college. Something about that still doesn’t sit right with me, but after a long debate with my College Possible coach, I was forced to comply.

While thinking of my answer, I realized how much I’ve been through. From my dad being disabled, to losing my best friend at age 10, to being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I came to the conclusion that my childhood wasn’t like most. I was thrown into therapy at a very young age- which I am grateful for, don’t get me wrong. But while I was in therapy, other kids were playing outside or riding the bikes around the lake. Not me though. While most kids’ dad’s worked a 9-5 job, mine stayed at home, unable to work due to his disability. But the simple fact is that I wouldn’t be where I am today without these events happening, and I am actually grateful for them.

My father being home whenever I needed it led me to learn patience and to appreciate what you have. Because one day, his disability will overcome him and he will eventually leave, ceasing to be there for me every day that I come home from school. Megan, my best friend who lost her battle to cancer, taught me to love everyone and live everyday like it’s your last. One day you will die- it’s just a fact of life. I know she expected to live a full and happy life, but that doesn’t always happen. Life gets in the way and fate, or God, or whatever you believe in- it has a different plan; a plan unknown to you. I learned to stop wasting time on people and things that don’t positively impact my life, and more time on love and happiness; living each day for a purpose that was more than just getting out of bed or going to school. Being diagnosed with depression taught me to create your own destiny and not take the good days for granted. Happiness is a luxury that is possible to attain, you just have to take charge and go for it. I have wasted too much time laying in bed and crying for absolutely no reason crippled by depression. I control how I feel as much as often, even though that isn’t always 24/7.

See, the thing is- while most people would consider these things struggles- I don’t. They are simply things that have happened in my life. Yes, they taught me important lessons needed to help me get through the rest of my life. Yes, they hurt more than anything I could ever imagine. Yes, they sucked in the moment, but no- they are not struggles. They are lessons, lessons that have set me up for the rest of my life. ✉



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