Aaliyah Ray

18 Sep 2023

Be the change

When you’re a child, you expect sunshine and rainbows. As it should be. Unfortunately, too often that is not the case. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “more than two thirds of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16”. My traumatic event happened at age 6 as a sizable male overpowered and assaulted me.

After that occurrence, I was an angry and disturbed child. My family acted very oblivious to the circumstances while I was crumbling into fragments. I often felt like I was wearing an unwilling joker face. I didn’t feel like other children, who would worry about Barbie dolls or when the next Junie B. Jones book was going to make it at our local book fair. I worried about what was “wrong” with me. I constantly asked, why me? Why doesn’t anybody care? The lack of concern from my family and my growing behavior issues led to them thinking I was mentally ill.

Soon came the medication and various forms of cognitive behavioral therapy. I remember becoming very hostile with inner thoughts of wanting to go “home”, becoming a memory, or even going to sleep. The intrusive thoughts never slowed down. I felt like a ticking time bomb that could explode any second. They say time heals all wounds. I don’t know if I believe that. I think time softens the blows.

Going through life experiences as I continue to grow, I see the world and human beings differently. I don’t know why it happened, but I know it was part of my story that shaped who I am today. God has tested me many times to see if I’ve changed. I’ve learned a lot of coping mechanisms to help with anger, sadness and any obstacle that comes my way. I’m not the same infuriated child who thought nobody had her back. I know that I will always have my back and I believe that there are good people who have been placed in my path to encourage me. I now understand that I am capable of overcoming adversity.

I am an Honor/AP student who is very driven and independent. I desire to pursue a career in nursing so that I can advocate and spread awareness of the effects of sexual assault and mental illnesses “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This quote connects with me because it highlights the ability that all of us have to serve others in our own special way. The ways I have given back to the community may not be physical, but will change somebody’s day. I love making people laugh and making sure they know their worth. I am always the person my friends go to whenever they just need somebody to listen or even a shoulder to cry on. I make sure I am available for people physically and emotionally. I carry this into my personal and work life.

I have worked at a local restaurant for about five months where I have grown as a leader and learned the importance of connecting with others. I enjoy working and making sure people leave out the door happy. While it has been a task balancing school, work, and extracurricular activities, I know each has an important role in my development into adulthood. I definitely want my future to involve helping people. This is why taking the next step to pursue higher education will give me the opportunity to live my dream of becoming a nurse.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, nurses continued to give one hundred percent to their patients and anyone in need at that time. It always makes me feel good knowing I can help someone in need. With no doubt or hesitation, I would sacrifice to help another. Growing up, I never felt I had somebody willing to do that for me. I always wondered what that would feel like. I believe the success of our community rides on the willingness of people to put the needs of others before their own. Which is why kindness is always the answer and incredibly important.

You never know what goes on behind closed doors with people. Dr. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I believe experiencing a college campus will expose me to a diverse group of people which will expand my understanding of the needs within the community. This will bring a greater awareness of issues and arm me with the tools to combat them. I will focus on spreading positivity and kindness while making an impact in my personal life and my career as a medical professional.

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