I have been through many changes and trials in my life. Growing up in an upper middle class family that was very financially comfortable, you may not think I would have had any problems. While it is true I did not suffer from starvation, poverty, or many of the trials people face in developing countries. I faced problems that were in my mind. I have struggled since my early teenage years with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety. These may sound like strange or scary terms to someone not familiar with them. To me they were definitely both strange and scary before I understood what they meant. I always thought of myself as a little different or even odd, and that was the reason I had trouble relating to people. I never thought my problems were defined conditions that had been studied and were suffered by many other people. I use to feel like an alien, someone not a member of the group or like everyone else, an outsider.
I limped on through middle school and high school with little social contacts or friendships. I had some close friends that were few and far between. Then at nineteen I left home for college. I traveled fifteen hundred miles from Florida to Massachusetts to go to a school where I didn’t know anyone. My first year was a nightmare. My obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which had been relatively under control, completely overwhelmed me. I would spend countless hours worrying about contamination, wear shorts in thirty degree weather because I didn’t feel I had any other “clean” clothing, and spend five hours in the shower trying to clean myself. This continued on throughout my entire freshmen year. It was not until my sophomore year that my parents convinced me to see a psychiatrist and get some help. It was a long hard process to get my OCD under control. For the next few years I struggled living on my own to control my OCD while fighting occasional depression and still having little social contact. Through various job opportunities I was able to open myself up and be less isolated. I was able to get my OCD fully under control where it became a minor afterthought, rather than an all consuming obsession. I was able to find God and understand so much about life, suffering, and the way the world works.
The one thing I learned that rings very true today, you have to keep moving on and living life every day. Life is an adventure. It is a cliché, but “life is a journey not a destination”. I never thought those words to be very true or particularly important. Looking back on my struggles, I can think of nothing truer. Whatever you are waiting to fulfill your life, you are wasting your time. Once you get those things they lose there sparkle. What matters is how you got there and who you met along the way.
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