Inner Strength is Self Defining

Ashley - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on September 17, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in inner strength and the mystical ways it transforms us into the people we are today. It’s not until those unbearable, heartbreaking, regretful, yet defining moments in our life occur, that we know who we are or what it is we stand for. I don’t enjoy despair, but I’ve learned to recognize those moments as possibilities to discover who I am.

My junior year of high school, I thought I knew exactly who I was and everything I stood for. I soon found that these things that I thought defined my life weren’t so important after all. The summer after my junior year my Mom wanted to take me on a mother daughter trip to Virginia Beach. After seafood, bicycle riding on the boardwalk, and a starbucks coffee, we decided on a game of UNO to finish off the night. When the game to and end, she began telling me a story, a story that would change me forever. After we both cried our fair share of tears, two new facts about my life were clear: The man that I had been calling Dad my entire life, was in fact not my biological father, and that I have two older half sisters. Though, on the outside I handled the news far better than expected, I struggled on the inside. I fought to understand who my family really was, and I struggled most of all with being comfortable in my own skin. I felt like I didn’t have a true last name and I worried what the kids at school would think of me if they knew I was adopted.

Over time, I recognized that I wasn’t as weak and vulnerable as I thought I was. I took the time to understand that it was okay to be me. I came back from that trip a stronger woman. It was my inner strength that helped me to be comfortable in my own skin.

Today, I’m comfortable with the truth. My name is Ashley S–. I am a student at James Madison University, but more importantly I am a young lady that strives to learn more about herself. I am a younger sister to a WestPoint graduate and a police officer, and an older sister to a high school sophomore. I am the granddaughter of breast cancer survivor and I have a mom who walked away from the man she cared about because she believed in all that I would turn out to be. I am a daughter to many, and I love that about my life. I was adopted by a man, who I consider Dad, who was willing to put me before his wants, and I’m proud to wear his last name each time I button up my softball uniform. I am a woman who’s still learning more about herself each and everyday, and I am blessed with the inner strength that allows me to do so.