By Jonah Nidorf, Writer
I spent thirteen years avoiding school at all costs. It started when I was five, after my parents moved us two thousand nine hundred and twenty one miles away from home. Waking up every morning, going to an unfamiliar school filled with kids I barely knew, and a strange new teacher, was beyond terrifying. I began throwing a fit each morning, which usually resulted in my Mom bribing me to get on the bus. Occasionally, my refusal was so insistent that I wore my mother down, and I would be given a “mental health day.”
This proceeded without harm until middle school, when late assignments piled up, and my anxiety multiplied viciously. Throwing a simple fit turned into debilitating panic attacks, and mental health days turned into mental health weeks, only further fuelling the fire of missed work.
In seventh grade, I snapped, and began evading other aspects of my life as well. Summer camp, family and social events, even my own bar mitzvah passed me by, as my bed became the only place I felt safe. I was diagnosed that year with depression and anxiety, giving validation to the feelings I had felt for so long.
Finishing middle school was miserable, but with the support of my family, I was able to scrape my way through. However, an even scarier monster lurked around the corner of my mind, highschool. The first day of freshman year came, and I forced myself onto the bus. I was imbued with fear so deep I could barely speak. I felt lost, alone, and afraid, until I saw Mr. Cook. He was standing in the doorway of my first class with a smile so wide it could part the sea, high-fiving each student as they walked in. “Hello beautiful person!” he would exclaim to every strange, terrified little face. His voice was brimming with excitement for the school year; there wasn’t a shred of fear in sight.
With my very own “Hello beautiful person!” my worries transformed into hope. I always thought it was easier to hide, but seeing people so happy to be engaged illustrated to me how
deeply I had been missing out on life. I knew I wasn’t the only nervous kid at school, but what compelled me was that my peers didnt let the fear stop them. Over the coming weeks I realized that I could take this as an opportunity to make a fresh start. There will still be fear, but I do not have to let it dominate me.
After missing out on so much of my childhood, I felt determined to make up for it. I enjoyed every new experience that I had never been brave enough to enjoy before. I learned to love learning, and I strive to learn as much as possible each day. I’ve tried to impact those around me by creating a support role in student government, where I am able to help students like myself as they navigate the troubles of adolescence. I’ve even ventured beyond academia, completing a full time computer science internship, where I was the only teen working in a professional environment. Just three years prior I was a kid who couldn’t get out of bed for his own Bar Mitzvah, and there I found myself sitting at a board meeting, alongside some of the biggest healthcare executives in the state, brave enough to share my opinions.
I am grateful for all of the beautiful people who have supported me through these times. If childhood has taught me anything, it is to not waste my life perseverating over the little things. I feel immeasurably lucky to be given this mystery of an existence, and with it, I aspire each day to live and learn to the fullest extent. Although the future is uncertain, I am confident that my determination will see me through.
Featured Photo: Provided By Jonah Nidorf