I was afraid of people as a child. I would hide behind my mom when people talked to me. My brother was the exact opposite. He was loud. Outgoing. A real people-person. He was also the only nephew, grandson, and great-grandson in the family. The spotlight was, and still is, always on him.

When you’re an introverted child with an extroverted sibling, you often go unnoticed by people. I guess that’s why no one noticed I was in a bad place. My father was never there for us emotionally, and my mom worked a lot. When I was 13, I discovered that my father was cheating on my mom, and I had to break the news to her. When I was 17, I was sexually assaulted by a family member of a close friend, but the people I told didn’t believe me. I moved out of the state as soon as I graduated from high school to escape everything, and I ended up getting into the drug scene.

I’ve been clean for seven years now, but it hasn’t been easy. I have my bachelor’s degree in mathematics and am currently pursuing my master’s degree in mathematics education. My accomplishments still go unnoticed by my family, but I don’t do it for them. I find my strength inside of me. I am extremely proud of myself for persevering despite the setbacks I have faced, and I am exceedingly grateful of where I am in life.