This is the second in a series of stories created by Trenton high school students who participated in the "Telling Your Trenton Story" workshop created by the Trenton Journal and Isles Youth Services. Special thank you to Stacy Heading, After School and Outreach Manager for Isles Youth Institute and the Trenton Free Public Library.
The pandemic has been a very rough time for me. Much like everyone else, I found myself in a balancing act of school, work and family, which led to inevitable burn out. As a result of those factors, I have come to learn a lot about myself–good and bad. Due to the pandemic, I lost a lot of self-worth. Seeing my health and body decline while doing nothing about it brought a lot of insecurity. I began to question what and who I was doing everything for. Ultimately, there was a lot of feeling sorry for myself, and I really hated that. Being depressed and feeling as if there is nothing you can do to recover is a horrible sensation, and I knew I had to break out of that mentality as soon as possible.
My first step in overcoming depression was to find new opportunities to learn. Whether I’m learning more about myself, obtaining soft skills, or studying schoolwork, I constantly sought new experiences. I began by further practicing my speech as it had been something I struggled with my entire life. I often practiced having conversations with myself in the mirror, tutoring my friends and studying the syntax and dialect of my peers and philosophers alike. To test my growth, I applied for a job at Forever 21 since retail work demands extreme multi-tasking skills and customer service. Through constant adaptation, I was able to effortlessly engage with customers in a matter of months, overcoming my insecurities. My new skills in retail in addition to becoming a potent orator inspired me to get more involved in my community. I became attached to a series of local projects, such as initiating a public service campaign educating Trenton residents about the dangers of not taking pandemic precautions, following CDC guidelines and pushing residents to get vaccinated. I also assisted in the production of a video with Planned Parenthood to promote healthy decisions and behaviors that’s used throughout New Jersey, and I’m a part of the Trenton Mayor’s Youth Council.
Throughout these major experiences, I have learned a lot about my city, my people, and most importantly, myself. It’s very easy to fall into a hole that seems inescapable, but no matter what type of rut you’re in, you will always be able to find an outlet that you can express yourself through. For me, I have transformed from a shy student afraid of mockery and derision, to a careful study of language and diction, to a prize-winning orator, and a benefactor to my community. Whatever obstacles I may stumble across in the future, I know I will grow, adapt, and overcome.