Brothers and sisters, we are of some of the strongest individuals. I stand with you all.

You are not alone, although if I felt anything most during my teenage years, it would be a sense of loneliness. What instills loneliness within those that have to grow up too soon? Is it our ability to see immaturity for what it is? Is it our vocalness that puts a target on our backs? Is it the belief that we are unlike anyone else around us? The idea that those around would be unable to empathize what we have gone through? Our own inability to trust?

What you have gone through has changed you, the way you think, what triggers your emotions, how you build relationships... How could we not be "different"? We didn't have a choice! At least not a choice beyond giving up or finding strength. Sometimes finding strength is the only option, given that some of us face challenges when we have already hit rock bottom.

What made you grow up too soon? What did you choose to do? Did you even have a choice?

I had many different points throughout my teenage years in which life made me question my every fiber and its worth. When I saw something wrong, I spoke up. When I saw someone bullied, I stood up. I placed a target on my back, or maybe a label on my forehead. For what that label read, I am quite stuck between "mess with" and "don't mess with". I felt so alone being what seemed like the only person who stood up for what they believed in, even if it meant I had to stand alone.

Maybe it's not who you are, but more so what you've been through. Did your significant other die in a tragic accident? Did a classmate of yours commit suicide? Did your healthy father begin to have seizures that stripped him of his lifestyle? Did your younger sibling start to hangout with the wrong crowd? Did you get diagnosed with a condition that has seemed to cause your life to take a U-turn? Did your parents split? Did you have to be the mother/father figure at home? Did you watch as you knew less of what you'd be coming to each day? Did substances steal a loved one?

Me matured faster than those around us. Now, as we all age, more people near our maturity levels. In time, with age, more people will gain an understanding once they are forced to experience something they were unprepared for.

I use the word "unprepared", because even the strongest of us cannot foresee what the future holds. Tragedy is tragedy. What we face, how we react and how we choose to change or not change, is what truly sets us apart from others.

I have learned that one thing compares to the devastation felt when in the face of tragedy. That is the endurance to press on when another life-altering event occurs. You grow stronger, build habits in response to events you face, and are able to reflect on how far you've came. "If I made it through that, I can make it through this too."

In eighteen short years, I have lived several lives. Each day is about allowing your old self to die, and your true self to be birthed.