I was born with a skin and joint condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome where my skin is highly sensitive and bruises, tears, and scars easily. In addition, my joints constantly pop in and out. When people ask about my condition I say, "If you and I are running on a track and we both trip and fall, you would end up with a bruise and I would end up in the hospital receiving another set of stitches." I have been to the hospital so many times that the staff knows me on a first-name basis. I inherited this rare condition from my father. I struggled growing up as a child because I always had to be cautious. I couldn't play on the slip n' slide or get close in contact with others in fear of getting hurt. As a girl, this condition caused me to have several insecurities with my looks and how others perceived me.
Growing up, I was a very active child and loved to jump, play, and run everywhere without knowing the repercussions of my choices. In preschool, my father urged me to wear shin guards and kneepads to play on the playground. Yet, I detested it and felt like I didn't fit in. The other children alienated me; I just wanted to be normal in the eyes of others. Since I was vigorous and energetic, my doctors had advised me not to participate in sports because I'm at high risk of major injuries. Yet, I loved soccer and cheerleading, and I wouldn't give it up because it was something I valued, and wouldn't let my condition hinder me.
By the time I hit puberty, I had already collected numerous scars along my body where it's visible for anyone to see, mainly on my shins and knees. Wearing shorts, dresses, and skirts was a no-go because everywhere I went people would point, talk, and question me on my legs. In middle school, my fears and insecurities really arose because I swore I was in love with this one boy in my class. So, I had asked my friend to help me out and when she queried him about me he said, "Ew, I don't like her. Did you see her legs?" This absolutely broke me, and ever since, I wore jeans to school to hide.
It wasn't until the beginning of my junior year of high school that I accepted myself for who I am. I finally wore shorts, dresses, and skirts to school; I opened myself up to people's pestering eyes. I answered people's questions on the street so I could educate them on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and its rarity. I grew to accept that my condition is a part of me, and it's what makes me different. I love myself, I'm happy, and I overcame my struggle.
Going to a school as diverse as UCF, makes me feel a part of something more, and bigger than just me. A school with a large population with so many opportunities gives me a reason to hope for a great learning experience and developing more as a substantial human being.