Hevenn V. / You never have to become another statistic.

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Entering into the system at age 7 made a huge impact on my ability to form a self-identity. I struggled a lot with the idea that I was not normal and that I would never have the kind of life that other kids had. This feeling affected my ability to create emotional bonds and often left me isolated from my foster families and peers. I was always afraid that those who entered into my life would be unable to accept my situation. I was burdened by the trauma of my past and often felt that other people could never quite understand me. The most notable way that these experiences defined me was by instilling me with an extreme sense of resilience. With everything I had gone through, I knew that succeeding in school and pursuing a better life was worth the effort. All throughout my primary education, I reminded myself that I was the one with the power to change my life, and I did. I worked hard, I got accepted to UCLA, and I am continuing to pursue a better life and use my new-found privilege to encourage others like me.

Despite the situations that life has handed you, you never have to become another statistic. Healing is hard. Remaining resilient is hard. But the right people recognize hard work and pursuing a life beyond the system is vital in determining the outcome of your life. Grieve the childhood you lost but remember how much room you have to create something better. There is a day when you will age out, be ready for it. Remind yourself that you have more control than the system makes it seem. Pursuing prosperity is the only way to achieve it, we just have to work a little harder than everyone else at it.

The foster system taught me how important it is to put effort into your life. My parents struggled with this. It affected their ability to provide for me and my siblings and it affected their ability to rise above negative circumstances. If you live life standing still every opportunity will pass you by. The world will never stop moving for you and it takes work to create a successful, happy life. I know now how important it is to take school and work seriously. I know now how important it is to give yourself a purpose for putting effort into every day. Life will never be handed to us, we just have to make something out of the chaos we are given.

I desperately needed guidance. I struggled trying to figure out what was best for me and how to pursue it once I aged out. I constantly envied the people who had parents to steer them in the right direction. It felt as if I was controlled by the system then was suddenly dumped into the adult world, expected to know what to do on my own. I needed someone who understood my experiences and could guide me in my healing and new journey outside of the system. I needed to know that someone understood the pain and confusion that I was feeling.

Foster Nation