This I Believe

Niki - Prudenville, Michigan
Entered on April 23, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I Believe… I Will Be Successful in Life

I believe that no matter what life throws at me, I will be successful in life; I will be heard. I want others to learn from my mistakes and anguish. All my life I was told I was like my father, and for that reason alone I push myself to be the best I am capable of. I refuse to be like my father and let my family down. There will be a day when I will prove everyone wrong and make myself, along with many others, proud.

At the age of thirteen, my dad left home and never returned. From that day on, I started looking at things from a different perspective. I had to grow up a little faster than most teenage girls. My grades started slipping and I was diagnosed as being a manic depressive, as well as suffering from bulimia. Over the course of a month, I lost more that fifty pounds. I made myself so sick I was hospitalized, and that made me realize I didn’t want to spend my life this way.

Nearly a year later, I was offered the trip of a lifetime to tour seven countries in Europe for seventeen days. I was hired at Taco Bell and raised over $4,000 for Europe. At sixteen years old, I was doing something productive with my life; I was being responsible by learning what it’s like to pay bill and help Mom with our house we could no longer afford. I was growing up.

After we moved, we discovered our hardships were just beginning. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. With my help and encouragement, she changed her eating habits and exercised daily to keep herself healthy and improve her chances of recovery. Chemotherapy, radiation, and iron doses weren’t going to slow us down. Shortly after our health improved, I had a rather rude awakening. I was having unprotected sex with my partner and I was diagnosed with HPV, a strain of genital warts. I tested positive for two of the four strains that cause cervical cancer. It felt like I was slowly sliding down the black abyss we call life.

Regardless of my personal problems, I graduated from high school with a 4.1 GPA. Not only did I graduate with honors, but I found a way to make my voice heard, I went through several surgeries and procedures because of my decision to have unprotected sex. I now lecture high school health classes on the importance of safe sex and understanding healthy relationships. I feel that hearing someone’s personal encounter with an STD would make a difference in just one person’s life. Every step I take is in the right direction because I will make myself the best person I can be. Someday I know that all my hard work will reward me with success.