My birthmom must have been petrified when she found out she was pregnant with me. When most girls are seventeen they worry about things such as their hairstyle and boys. She had to worry about finding shelter, a new school, and financial means to support herself and a baby. But she did it. After being kicked out by her parents, and moving into the home of my “adoptive parents,” she made the decision to give me up for adoption. She went against her conservative Catholic parents’ will to give me up and made one of the biggest decisions in her life at the age of seventeen with no support.
Eighteen years later, I try to live my life by her standard. It is because of my birthmother that I believe in being independent. By being independent, I am able to do everything with reason and passion. I don’t do things to be independent, independence is simply a quality that has always been innate, but not always practiced.
I first realized what independence was the first time I was ever hurt by a boy. Although I was only seventeen, no one has ever made me feel the way he did – before and after we broke up. I felt like everyday was exciting, whether we were hanging out at the beach, skating, or working out together. I felt like a goddess, and that I was always cared for. But, when I got into his car at East Bay park, I was expecting a typical date. It wasn’t. His face was stern the whole time he broke up with me. In fact, it was so stern I thought he was kidding when those words came out of his mouth and I started laughing. Then my laughing turned to crying, then sobbing, and then I lost it. Within a matter of thirty seconds I went from feeling whole and peaceful, to feeling like I had completely lost control of my life. And once I convinced myself that I had lost control because I had gotten broken up with, I really did lose control.
The summer following our breakup changed my life. I was sucked into a downward spiral of wrong choices, risky judgments, and reckless behavior. I kept searching for something to satisfy me, no matter what the consequence was. I hit rock bottom when I finally realized I had lost myself. I had poured myself into the mold of your typical partying, attention seeking, shallow, teenage girl – solely to feel like I was wanted.
Fall of my senior year is when my independence defeated my insecurities. I had to evaluate myself, and contemplate why I was doing the things I was doing. The choices I had been making weren’t ones I wanted to make anymore, and ones I had never done with feeling. I felt lifeless, numb, used, and degraded. From that point on, I have vowed to myself to never again be someone I am not.
. Six months later I have stayed true to my vow and feel better than I ever have. I have learned never to hold back when fighting for what I believe in, to do things one hundred and ten percent even if I shouldn’t be doing them in the first place, or that when someone views something as morally wrong, that I don’t have to apply by their morals – only mine.
I am my own actor, my own spokeswoman, my own hairstylist, my own driver, my own student, my own caretaker, my best friend, my own person. I learned from my birthmother and my ex-boyfriend to never let people control my emotions, to ignore others’ standards, to be bold and take risks. I am my own instrument. My body is the only thing I really own, and I choose to use it in a way no other human being can.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.