I recently had to write a scholarship essay in hopes of receiving funds towards next year’s tuition. I’ve decided to share it all with you.

Twelve-year-olds are supposed to play with friends, watch movies, and attend football games. They are supposed to play mini golf and go swimming on hot summer days. Twelve-year-olds aren’t supposed to lose their fathers to suicide. They aren’t supposed to know that death is real, that the world can be dark and cruel, and that sometimes life really sucks.

But, as we’ve been told, life isn’t fair. Some twelve-year-olds are forced to handle the harsh reality of life and lose their innocence early.

I would know, because that twelve-year-old was me. I was the little girl turned adult in a matter of a few hours-whose life flipped upside down.

At twenty, I still suffer the consequences of my father’s actions. But I have not and will not become a product of his death. I will not let that stop me from succeeding. I will rise from the depression I was sunk into for so very long.

I am a strong writer, hard worker, and positive thinker.

Working a full-time job while also attending Luzerne for full-time classes is difficult and exhausting. My overflowing plate of things to do keeps me busy and allows me to create a name for myself, both professionally and academically. The philosophy behind my method is to work hard now so I am able to relax later in life.
Truthfully, college seemed out of the question for a long time. I knew I loved writing and communication, but I didn’t think I’d succeed in college courses. I am pleased to realize now just how wrong I was.

Andrew Petonak and Edward Ackerman have helped me every step of the way towards a successful career in journalism, and I am incredibly grateful for them. These two professors treated me like a fellow human, as opposed to a paycheck like some professors I’ve dealt with. They never gave up on me even when I felt like giving up on myself. Without the help of these two, I don’t know if I’d still be enrolled at Luzerne County Community College.

Life has thrown me a lot of curveballs, there is no doubting that. Regardless of the struggles I have faced and the experiences I have gone through, I am appreciative for the opportunity to be someone in this world. I want to make a difference.
The college experience has shaped me into a driven, success-seeking woman. With the help of my professors, I am positive that one day I will be an expert in writing and an accomplished journalist.

Life may not have always been smooth, but my future is bright and I am hopeful.

My Best Friend and Biggest Supporter

There has only been one person so far in my life that has not let me down.

They have protected me, taken care of me, loved me unconditionally. I’d even go as far as to say they have saved my life.

My mom is my entire world, my only biological parent, and my absolute best friend.

Even on my worst days, I can find her encouragement through the deep sea of sadness.

Throughout my life I have had plenty of friends that have come and gone and lingered– my mother is the only one that has stayed and loved me through it all. I’m lucky enough to call her my mother and my friend. I’m lucky enough to have a parent that gives a shit. I’m so, so lucky.

After my dad died, my anxiety inflated and I knew there was going to be a point in my life where she would be gone too. I don’t like to think like that, of course. No one does. But it has made me much more aware and thankful for my time with her. I couldn’t imagine treating her like some kids I see treating their parents… it breaks my heart.

My mom has given me much more than I could ever thank her for. She has sacrificed so much of her life to make mine better, I know better than to waste the opportunity to waste my chance at “making it.”

She has supported me through high school. She never punished me for my bad grades– she knew I was trying my best. She has encouraged every bit of my writing, every silly article I ever posted or poem I’ve written. She has never poked or prodded at my passion and career choice. She makes me laugh, pushes me along, and loves me for who I am.

When I thought about writing this article I imagined how amazing it would sound. I figured it would sound so wonderful and inspiring. I thought wrong, because regardless of how much or how little I write about her, it could never justify how much I love and appreciate her. She will never know just how much I cherish her, even if we aggravate and annoy each other sometimes.

When I was growing up, kids around me seemed to have everything and anything… but they didn’t have my mom. 

I think I’m the one who had it all. 

I Don’t Belong Here

In fact, I hate it here. The thought of staying here for the rest of my life makes my head spin and my stomach turn. Here is a place that few belong to, I am am not one of them.

“Here” describes the lackluster part of NEPA that makes my head swell with anger.

I want so much for myself. I want a steady career, a beautiful apartment, a healthy bank account. I want to not worry about paying my bills. I want a successful life. I want people to look at me and say “Wow, good for her!”

But right now, that all seems impossible. Some reasons are beyond my control. Some aren’t. For the billionth time in my life, I feel stuck. 

This area sucks in every bad vibe, every negative Nancy, every naysayer. The opportunities are few and far between. The best thing in this area is the worst thing somewhere else. 

Truthfully, this shithole of an area doesn’t seem so bad when it’s all you’re used to. I can’t say I blame anyone for thinking that way. Some people just don’t know any better.

Some do.

Nobody around here seems to understand. They’re so wrapped up in bullshit, they wouldn’t understand even if “it” kicked them in the ass.

I love my life. I love my family. I love how far I’ve come and I’m proud of the progress. It just seems like lately I’ve been losing touch with myself and what I’m meant to do in life.

I’m meant to make a difference, I’m meant to help people, I’m meant to grow and discover.

All of which feel held back by the aurora of this place. 

I know I’m young and thinking too deeply, but I can’t help but cry at the thought of this becoming my life.

 I am not meant for that. It’s okay for some, but it’s not okay for me. I need something different, something better, something bigger. 

I do not belong here. 

But do I have too much to lose?

The Driver’s Side Window

This past Friday I was on my way to class, jamming out to a shitty playlist and getting way too into my thoughts.

Where do we go when we die? Why do we always create problems for ourselves? Why does life shit all over people that don’t deserve it?

Truthfully I can talk about my dad’s death until I face my own, but I won’t ever express how much that event has shaped my life in such a massive way. I can’t. That’s an impossible endeavor I’m not willing to begin.

I recall being in such a dark place 2, 3, even 5 years after the fact. I really didn’t want to live. I didn’t want to deal with what the universe had dealt me. My dad was gone, I had no friends. There was no one in the world who would understand how I felt. Kids my age were out at football games, the movies, doing what kids should be doing. I never really felt like I “fit” into anyone’s life. The people around me had their groups, and I was just an outsider that people didn’t really think about.

How could I be friends with people whose problems seem so insignificant? How could I associate with people who haven’t experienced struggle a day in their lives?
Most of these people had money, a good lifestyle, a strong family suit. They lived their lives day by day, and I was just along the bleachers, taking up space.

Up until this time last year, I still felt that way. Like my existence was less important, less needed, less…wanted. I had a great family willing to help me, but no one my age to really connect with. I felt that every relationship; romantic or otherwise, wasn’t really real. Just a placeholder.

It breaks my heart now to realize the time I wasted trying to impress other people. The time I wasted trying to understand why my dad wasn’t here, why I wasn’t normal, why I couldn’t be like “them.”

Now, at twenty, I realize that none of us are normal. We are all fucked up, to put it bluntly, in one way or another. We all have our demons, some are just different than others.

For the first time in my life I feel like I belong, and I have to thank the people I met in college and the professors that have lifted my spirits for that. I have to thank my family for always seeking me help when I needed it, even if I always seemed to make things worse for myself. I have to thank my boyfriend for accepting me as who I am, even when I can’t accept myself some days.

I am so happy.

When I was around sixteen, someone called the police in fear that I was going to take my own life. The officers showed up at my house, worried that I was already gone.
I wasn’t, nor did I have any plan to leave this earth as much as I may have felt like I wanted to at the time. I could never have followed in my father’s footsteps knowing the impact it had on me and my family. I knew there was so much to live for, I just didn’t know what yet.

Now I know.

I am grateful for each passing day, even if it is a shitty one. I am grateful for my group of newly-found friends that make me feel that I’m not so unwanted. I am grateful to be here and to have met the people I have met so far in life, because they have all shaped me into this crazy person that loves writing about her experiences in hopes to relate with others.

On my way to school Friday, the window on the drivers side rolled down unexpectedly.
My fingers weren’t near the switch, I wasn’t leaning on it, I wasn’t even near it.

Whether it was some freak incident or some sort of wiring issue, I have no idea.
But I’d like to think its my father telling me that I am okay and will be okay. He’s here, he sees me, and he’s proud.

And you know what? I’m proud too. I am here, I am living, and one day I will make it.
Watch me.

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