The other day, I was asked what challenges I've faced. I frowned, my mind jumbling up tens of experiences I could delineate on the spot that have scarred me since they happened. But then I realized: I've never sat down and written about it, talked about it. I've held it in, feeling the experiences rattle within me like coins in a piggy bank. So, I chose the most impactful one, I sat down, and I re-taught myself what it taught me.

What have I faced? I've had to face fear. The most memorable time? It was early March of freshmen year. When I woke up in the middle of the night with the landline ringing, realizing it was the emergency operator calling to wake me up as instructed by my mom, who, stepping out of my room, I realized was in a ball at the top of the stairs crying with her phone in her hand; when I looked around the normally dark house illuminated with a blinding, blinking red light coming from right outside; when I tried so hard not to cry as I told my mom she was going to be all right, that it was only temporary and as soon as she took deep breaths she would feel better; when I walked numbly to open the door and realized I was shaking as firefighters flooded into my house, some to help my mom, others to ask me about her ID, and even more asking me to direct the ambulance to the driveway; when I ran outside in the cold, misty rain, shaking not from the weather, but from fear, and running not to leave the house, but to go back as quickly as possible so I would be able to make sure everything was alright; when I dumped all of my belongings onto the floor and packed anything and everything we would need into my bag in a matter of 30 seconds; when they told me that I couldn't sit in the back of the ambulance with my mom so I sat in the passenger seat, praying and praying more times in a row than I ever had in my life, trying so hard not to be weak, but strong, preparing myself to be the rock she needed… that's when I faced fear. The kind of fear where you don't know what will happen next, but if you show any signs of weakness, you're scared that everything around you will crumble with you. The kind of strength that you never knew you needed until you were clawing at the door, begging for it.

What I learned from that was that I was able to handle it… the fear. As simple as that may sound, it's something that's reassuring, especially when you have to face it again. I learned to swallow my fear and not let it affect my actions; I learned to take fearful situations head on, because I told myself that otherwise, everything around me would crumble; I learned how to think clearly, on my feet, and positively, helping me navigate other situations like high school with so much more ease; and I learned how to bring my mom back to my side with love and words and smiles and strength.