I mean, the first thing that comes to mind is when I was growing up I didn’t feel much love. We weren’t taught to love ourselves as kids. We were taught keep our nose clean, don’t get in trouble. But I was the kid that always was getting in trouble.

I switched from public to private school in fourth grade and my behavior quickly got worse.

I had to actually try to makes friends with kids at the private school, whereas in public school it was so much easier. I was constantly lying to these new kids to stay friends, but they would catch me.

I was lying to my teachers and cheating. It was a mess that I didn’t realizing was happening and multiplying.

I feel like I wasn’t living until I was eleven-years-old because before I was constantly dismissed, I was making decisions that had no thought to them. I was just moving through life with no forethought.

Seventh grade my grades got even worse, especially math. My teacher accused me of cheating and told my mom and the principal, “She’s retarded because she can’t pass math.

It shook me. Woke me up. I felt alive, and angry. I had to make the decision to leave this school and my friends who were egging me on with these behaviors to go back to public school.

I had to choose what was best for me, so I left. I didn’t tell my friends, I just let them figure out I wasn’t there. Once they figured out I wasn’t coming back, they were angry and didn’t understand.

The next couple weeks they yelled at me, constantly texting me. For some reason each was trying to turn me against the other and they both began to hate me.

Here I am, finally aware, and my friends hate me. I didn’t know what to do. I kept telling them we were still friends, but it didn’t work because they both wanted me to themselves.

One of my friends, who was the main instigator, kept trying to turn my back on the other friend. She wanted me to stay in this dark place. I had to cut them both off because I didn’t know who was making me feel so awful. It was probably both of them, honestly.

Back to public school, the only people I knew were those I had met in Kindergarten before leaving, but it worked out.

My grades got better. I knew I needed to stop lying to my family, my friends, and myself. It was a good way for me to grow.

When I look back now, what did I gain from this experience? In my faith, I view change as upgrades. Am I even different? I’m on a new playing field now. It feels like nothing happened, blank slate.

It’s hard on my memory because that was my first time living.

I’m still in a place reeling from where I wasn’t taught to love myself, but I do now through my faith. I’m learning how to defend myself and care for myself. Which is hard when you are twenty-one.

My best friend helps me a lot and she helps me feel validated and cared for. Whatever I say isn’t stupid. Which is what I feel a lot with other people

I’m constantly training myself with my faith and with my friendships to not see myself as stupid. To honor others. I feel like I’ve always had a good grasp on how situations feel and how to read them and why people behave in certain ways, which works since I’m studying psychology, but now I’m able to see everyone else’s behavior and am really only now learning my own.

Which I’ve done by myself because my family hasn’t helped.

With Christ, I feel like he helps raise me. For the past year I’ve been learning how to love myself and love people and accept anyone for anything and I am who I am supposed to be because I have this relationship with Jesus.

My relationship with my family has really been nonexistent. My brother and I are close, but even then it wasn’t great before. My mom has always had a negative view towards my sister and is rude to her and how she treated her has stayed in my mind. It’s even affected how I view myself.

My parent’s marriage fell apart in high school.

My dad saw my mom’s boyfriend for the first time a while ago and he exploded. Sent us hate mail, kicked my brother out.

I shut my family out for the bit.

I resented my sister. She had been painted in such a negative light by my mother. She tried to salvage the relationship between my parents and made it worse. She really wanted to be a martyr and was always throwing pity parties, doing things for others, but only to stroke her own ego. I didn’t like that. But I’m starting to love her more because she’s my sister and I know that’s sacred. And I know I won’t have that forever.

It’s hard to give the same grace to my dad because he’s always been an asshole. He was awful, no way to go around it. He tries to force me into loving him and it’s really hard to give him that love. He was mean to all of us, never really a father figure. My mom raised us. The only anchor I’ve had is my brother. It’s harder now that we are older because we are going through these changes. So we just try to encourage each other and move forward.

I moved, it’s awesome. I live with a really amazing family. She has been so influential as a growth to my person. She brought me back into faith.

After the whole thing with a private school I hated god and religion, but she helped change my view. It brought me back home and I’m so grateful for that.  I wouldn’t be the person I am now if this didn’t happen.

I am thankful for Band-Aids, bunny rabbits and their cotton tails, the way my roommate’s kids say my name, new car smell, silences that are peaceful and not awkward, baristas who know my name, Legos, untouched snow, the way Reno smells after it rains, Rolly-Pollies, and Broadway musicals.

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