This I Believe

Rochelle - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

The gift of life is full of obstacles and challenges that we as people strive to overcome. The challenges we face become a test of true character and this is why I am a firm believer in the saying, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

I remember it distinctly. I had just gotten off the bus and I couldn’t wait to get home and ride bikes with my best friend Becky. As I entered through the front door I heard my mother say, “Rochelle before you go outside to play, we need to sit down and have a talk.” Being the young, naïve 7-year-old that I was, it never occurred to me that I was about to hear something that would turn my adolescent life upside-down.

“Your father’s job has been relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina” said my mother. At that moment I remember feeling as though my life had ended. All I could think about was leaving my best friends. How could I do this? I had no choice. I was only in third grade and not nearly old enough to make my own decisions. At the time, it felt like there would be no positive aspects to moving. In hindsight, the time I spent in North Carolina gave me an ability to adapt to change, a quality that has proved to be valuable in life.

Another challenge I faced was when I was 17 years old and I found out that my parents were getting divorced. Again, I thought my life was over. I bombarded myself with questions like “who was I going to live with,” and “who was going to take care of me.” I had never felt that level of betrayal before in my life. After many months of court appearances, the divorce finally settled. I moved with my mom and brother to a town 15 miles away and life went on as usual. Five years later, I am now able to see what a profound impact my parent’s divorce had on me. Although it was rough time, the divorce was a period when I matured greatly. I found that I was forced to then take on more responsibility because I did not have two parents working together. These added responsibilities prepared me for the next stages of my life and continue to help me to this day.

Nothing forced me to be more responsible then when I studied abroad in London last semester. Although I was terrified of being away from my family for such a long period of time, I decide to take a risk because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can remember so vividly the night before I left. I still did not wholeheartedly feel as if I was making the right decision, but I had already booked my ticket and there was no turning back. My mother said over and over, “you will be fine” but I only became more nervous.

The next morning came quickly and before I knew it, I was in the Buffalo airport saying goodbye to my family. I was about to embark on a journey that would forever change my life. Once I arrived in London, the anxiety hit me as I realized that I was thousands of miles away from home. I kept thinking about how I wanted to go home and how I was never going to be able to make it in a foreign country. However, as the weeks went by and I became acclimated with the area, the days got much easier.

In retrospect, it is hard to believe I ever doubted studying abroad. It taught me how to be independent in areas that I had never imagined. The experience assisted my transition into adulthood where I was able to gain a whole new perspective on life.

Although I encountered struggles during each of these phases, I was able to become a stronger person. I attribute my strength to the individual challenges I have faced and this is why I am a strong believer in the saying “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”