Opinion: How success and hope saved me

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How do I define success? Everyone has their own definitions, but for me, it’s being able to take care of myself. It took me a long way to realize that I’m living a good life. That I don’t have to hide behind my disability and make up excuses or lies so that no one pays attention to me and I get to avoid responsibility. 

Before I arrived at Community Care Services, I had low self-esteem, and nothing to look forward to. I was told about the Community Care Services. I started seeing my first therapist, Brad, and was given a few different prescription medications that didn’t work out. 

When Brad left, I started seeing another therapist named Carol. Yet, before Brad left for good, he referred me to Cynthia, the employment specialist. I was completely clueless, when Cynthia asked me: “What do you want to be in 5 years?” I wasn’t even thinking that far, all I knew was that I was tired of living and death became so easy. 

However, Cynthia gave me a lot of hope and stuck with me. I didn’t know what “hope” meant – I thought it was a phrase that people say and have no meaning. Cynthia suggested that I join the Illness Management Recovery support group and, let me tell you, it did wonders for me. 

Not long after joining the support group, I got a call from Target and I worked there for about a year. When Carol left, Cynthia helped me find a therapist who specializes in autism. 

I was referred to an organization, named Centria Healthcare, that specializes in children with autism and I took advantage of the opportunity and applied for the Behavioral Technician position. I have now worked for Centria for a year, helping children with autism. During my time in Centria, I learned that growth isn’t easy and that it takes time, but the best part of growth is that it accommodates. There’s no time limit or expiration date here, and that growth has flexibility – even though flexibility comes with responsibility.  

How I define success is by education as well. I earned my associates degree as a Computer Service Technician at Schoolcraft College in May 2016. Due to the lacking job market, I couldn’t get a job with that degree. So I talked to Cynthia and decided that it would be a good idea to go back to college and get a bachelor’s degree. 

Last summer, I decided on attending the University of Michigan-Dearborn since it has the program Instructional Technology and was the only university or college that offered the program in Michigan. 

So, I applied to U of M-Dearborn for the Winter 2020 term in November 2019. Two weeks later, I got accepted! 

In December I registered for classes and I was really excited that I am continuing my education since it is one of my dreams to earn a bachelor’s degree. For me a degree, whether it’s an associate or bachelors or doctorate, isn’t just something you put on a wall and forget about. Getting a degree is a milestone of your life and the journey reaching that goal. 

I soon realized what the definition of a reward meant to me – it’s not just an achievement but a story in your life. A reward, regardless of small or big, has a story behind it. Education is my reward and how I define success because it’s a journey of growth. 

Earning an Associate’s Degree has a different reward than earning a Bachelor’s degree. Even though they are both degrees, the story is different. Education means more than just earning a degree, but it’s learning to be able to take care of yourself. 

Exploring the highs and lows of growth, turning a page of the mystery, discovering treasure in unexplored lands, and being able to recover from obstacles is all about growing and learning to take care of yourself. Don’t be scared of sailing through dark waters or the storm, you’ll get through it because you have to and you’ve learned to. You want to see beyond the storm because beauty awaits those who stru