My Story, By  Harrison Ross, Age 18

When you look at someone, you think you know their character.  When you look at me you see a somewhat tall, brown haired kid with a huge nose.  You think you know what you want about me.  You see my Warriors Swimming and Diving jacket – immediately you know that I shave my legs, idolize Michel Phelps, bathe in chlorine and am likely to miss a shot on a 4 foot hoop.  Except, all of those things are false – except for the last one at least.  We see the way people look and think we know everything about them.  But this is far from the truth.

We all have stories.  Memories of these stories, I believe are the most important thing we have as people.  Some stories are filled with joy, others with grief and sorrow.  We all have faced, continue to face and always will face hurdles.  I appreciate these hurdles because the ones I have cleared and stumbled over thus far make me the person I am today, and who I am proud to be.

High school, much like life is a rollercoaster.  I am confident a huge majority of you have heard this analogy before.  In 7th and 8th grade I could not wait to graduate.  I was officially a man, well, kind of, and couldn’t wait to experience what High School had to offer.  I had some hiccups, however.  One of my biggest challenges was my younger sibling, George.  George had been well known. With his bright yellow curls and sky blue eyes, he was anything but ordinary in appearance. As he grew older, he developed a personality to match. George was notorious for his rambunctious disposition in our close-knit community.  Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADHD and severe dyslexia to top it all off, George was very difficult to be around.  People have commented to me time and time again about my incredible patience with younger children, but George knew how to push my buttons and then some. Granted, his diagnoses played a part; I couldn’t help but believe that little one had it out for me.  I found myself isolating, well, myself, from the family in order to diffuse any issues that arose – to the point that I can’t even remember the last family vacation we could all be together in the same room.  But before I knew what had happened I lost my brother – and I woke up the very next day to a little girl in the room adjacent to mine.

George had always had a preference for typically feminine things.  I didn’t care, nor did my parents.  Slightly a-typical for a little boy to yank dolls from the shelf at the store over a truck, sure, but hey – what does that matter.  As not if by chance, on her 10th birthday, she woke up, announced she was a girl and skipped off to school to tell the world.  She had spent years (if it was longer or shorter, we will never know) keeping this inside, and this is her story.  Did I struggle at first coming to terms with a major life event not far from a death and birth? Yes.  Have things gone back to normal? Of course – yet she is still a very tough person to be around due to her behavior.

Look – this is just one little anecdote of my time in high school.  I also spent two years benched from sports due to bilateral shoulder injuries.  My mother spent months stuck in bed with a horrible back injury.  My parents split up just this year, thankfully not due to my sister, but their own things.

I have learned that these challenges have made me who I am.  My story is not the easiest, but it is also not the hardest by a long shot.  Be honest with yourself, and never stop pushing to accept whatever comes along, even if it hits close to home.

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