• Contest Entry Top 10: How seeing the world helped me see myself

    To anyone who may need a little bit of hope today:

    Hey there. I’m Jerrica and throughout my entire life, as probably most people, I’ve been overcoming challenges on a day-to-day basis. I was born into a family of heroin addicts and this alone inevitably led to me being adopted into a family I never belonged in. I’ve been stumbling into bits and pieces of who I am every single day of my life. I’ve been trying to discover who I actually am for a very long time. From visiting my biological mother in prison to growing up to work at that same prison, I can tell you a whole lot about overcoming adversity. 

    From my early childhood, I was unhappy at home. At school,  I was bullied for being overweight. So, I got lost in books and pretended I was the main characters in the books. Happy books. Adventure books. All books. For Christmas, my aunts and uncles would only ever get me Barnes and Noble gift cards. I chose to hide in my room and read. I didn’t attend family gatherings simply because I hated these people. I didn’t choose to be adopted by these people and I never got any say about it. I was, and still am, nothing like them at all. 

    Jerrica traveling the world.

    Who exactly am I? I am the girl who grew up to work at a women’s prison to remind the women there that everyone is capable of moving forward despite whatever situation they were once a part of. I am the girl who drove across the United States with my fish all the way from Massachusetts to Oregon for a job just to get my car stolen from a hotel parking lot on the day of my arrival. My car literally had everything I ever owned inside, ranging from clothes to electronics to pictures and even letters from my old students from when I had taught English in South Korea. I am the girl who was left with nothing once again because of someone else’s actions. However, I decided since I no longer owned anything at all and ultimately had no attachment to anything, it was very easy to just buy a backpack and travel across the world. And so that’s what I did. I learned about new places and cultures and lifestyles and most importantly, more about myself and my capabilities. I volunteered in small villages of people who just like me, owned nothing. I allowed myself to grow from a negative situation instead of allowing it to bring me down. I am the girl who saw places I never knew even existed.  So despite my shortcomings, this worldly journey helped me to remain grateful just to have been provided with shelter and food and a free education during my negative childhood. And for once in my life, I understood my own worth. 

    I am also the girl who never knew her father, not even his name. I’ve only ever known that he was an addict. I’m the girl who grew up to work at a men’s recovery home to share my growth and wisdom with men battling addiction so they could also learn and grow and make sure their own children hopefully never have to grow up in the way I had to. I am the girl who has earned respect simply by choosing to never give up and choosing to always remain hopeful for the future and the possibilities it may bring. I am literally the definition of what it means to be resilient. So to this day, I will never stop fighting to live a beautiful, happy life regardless of what may be thrown my way. And I just wanted whoever is out there that is reading this today to really understand that if I can do it, you can too… just never give up hope. 

    Wishing you luck in the remainder of your life journey,

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