Emma Heffner - Grade 8, Tower Heights Middle School
Mind Over Matter
When someone has a disability it all too often becomes the defining factor in his or her life. Their “middle name.” Of course, Tourette isn’t really listed on my birth certificate, but to others, it’s all they see me as. Someone with a disability, someone to feel sorry for.
When I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome my life drastically changed. My condition causes me to have uncontrollable vocalizations and movements called “tics” These tics confuse some, annoy others, but most surprisingly, seem to make people feel sad for me.
People who I never talked to before my diagnosis have come up to me asking about my condition with solemn faces, and always reusing the phrase “I’m sorry.” I distinctly remember the time when I was walking to class with my friend when he looked me in the eye and said, “I feel bad for you.” I knew he meant it. It was at that moment I realized I didn’t want my condition to make people feel sad for me, or pity me. I wanted to be an inspiration to people, and show that I can do everything anyone else can.
Choosing to be happy despite my difficulties isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Tourette’s will follow me throughout my life, and because it’s the only life I have I’m determined to make the most of it. Mind over matter is a difficult phrase for most to apply in their own daily lives, but it has become something I choose to live by. I know that I have value, and If I continue to work on myself from the inside my positivity will project outwards to everyone around me. I now smile more and give compliments to those whom I feel need them most. I know what it’s like to have a challenging day, but I’ve found that others being in a good mood puts me in a good mood. I believe spreading happiness and kindness is the most important thing I can do to show everyone that negative circumstances don’t always have negative outcomes.
My disability has pushed me to continue to pursue what I love. I hope to become a youth ambassador for the Tourette’s Association of America to give other individuals with Tourette’s hope and joy knowing that they’re not alone and that they can make a great impact not only in their own lives but other’s lives too. I now have more motivation to pursue my goals, such as music. Honing my ukulele and guitar skills brings happiness to me, and my friends as well. It’s a great feeling to be able to play a song and have my friends sing along with me. When I sing or play instruments my tics stop completely, giving me an opportunity to express myself without Tourette interfering.
I’m determined to show everyone that my life is not only my disability and that with happiness, positivity, and perseverance I can achieve all my goals and live a successful life.