I spent the majority of my life being told I would never amount to anything.
My schoolwork was never proudly displayed on our family’s refrigerator. I never got a pat on the back for a job well done. While my brother was honored and glorified for getting mediocre grades, I was made to feel like shit for getting straight As. “What do you think, you’re better than us? You think you’re so smart? You’re nothing.” It didn’t matter what I did. It would never be the right thing. I could never be good in their eyes.
I found out after the fact that many of my college acceptance letters were hidden from me. I never had a choice in the matter. My family took my acceptance into Princeton as an insult to the family. Any other parent would have been proud. They didn’t want me to succeed. They didn’t think I deserved it, and for awhile I believed that, too.
Why am I talking about this? Because today, I received a call from the admissions office of the university I interviewed at just two days ago. I’ve been accepted into the program. I will be pursuing two masters degrees in counseling. As soon as I heard the woman say “Congratulations”, I started to cry. I had just left the store and was standing on the sidewalk in front of the parking lot. It took everything in me not to fall to my knees. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I could barely speak. The admissions counselor wanted to register me right away, but I asked if I could call her back tomorrow, and she said that was fine.
I hung up the phone and began to cry uncontrollably. People walking by were staring at me, but I didn’t care. Everything I’ve been told would never happen was now happening. I’m free. I’m succeeding. I’m something. People are seeing the potential in me; the potential that has been there all along, the potential that was consistently quashed by my parents.
Through tears, I wrote about my good news to my online friends. I e-mailed both therapists, and text my best friend. I may not have had anyone to physically celebrate with, but that was okay. People were genuinely happy for me. My therapists may have been just as excited about the news as I was.
Even hours later, I still find myself intermittently crying. I never expected to be in this position. At this time last year, I was extremely close to giving up. I told myself if I didn’t make it out in the next year (by the time I turned 30), I was going to end my life. I thought for sure I was just going to continue on that path towards death. I didn’t expect an end to the pain. I didn’t expect to escape that hell. I didn’t expect to be living the life I am now. If I didn’t escape, I would not be where I am today – and I don’t mean just physically, I mean emotionally and otherwise.
My therapist told me that people need light and love to blossom. I am blossoming. It’s amazing how much different I have become in just five months. I’m achieving so much and growing in ways I never imagined.
The journey has been difficult. It will continue to be difficult. But I have support for the first time in my life. I have people I can count on. I have people who genuinely care for me. I can pursue better things without being made to feel like I’ve done something terribly wrong.
I almost wish I could tell my parents how far I’ve come. I want to tell them that I am better than them, that I am smarter than them. I want them to know that I am not nothing anymore. I don’t need them to proudly display my schoolwork. I now proudly display my own work to remind myself of what I have accomplished.