I’ve been through a lot in my life – and it shows. At 21 years old with no family and little to my name, I’m certainly living life on the minimum. Most people in my position would be depressed and hating their life, yet I still feel grateful and content with what I do have.
I have had many failures, I dropped out of college, I’ve been homeless more times than I’d like to admit, all relationships have been devastatingly destructive. There isn’t really that much I have to show for myself – other than my career in advocating. Sometimes, I find my lack of achievement humorous… but then I remember I deserve more credit than that.
The biggest skill set I have to date is my ability to get back up. Pushed down so many times I have long lost count, yet I always get. Back. Up. There may be occasions that take a little longer than others, but every single time, without fail, I jump up fighting. I admit I allow myself to take too much at times – but I still bounce back and remove the issue (I say issue, usually a person…).
I live in a bedsit, the only furniture mine is a cabinet I bought with a donated Amazon voucher. I don’t have many clothes – or belongings as a whole. I’m living on benefits, barely in part time work, whilst trying to manage my physical and mental health; a very exhausting task.
Any outsider would look at me and pity me, who would want to live like that? But, what I have goes way beyond the surface. When you’ve come from so little, what I have now is paradise. I have a certain ability to be grateful for the little, something not many people will ever come to understand themselves. I do not need the newest designer clothes to be happy, just enough to cover my back. I do not need a fancy penthouse, just a warm roof over my head. I do not need extensive riches, just enough to put food on the table.
That in itself is a luxury few can afford.
Honestly, I shouldn’t be alive. The suicide attempts, the drugs, the dangerous people I previously associated with.
The fact that I am alive and breathing is something I still struggle to accept most days. For as long as I can remember, I so firmly believed that I was destined to die; a mistake not made for this world. And don’t get me wrong, it has taken incredible amounts of fighting and motivation to keep myself above water.
I just have to marvel in it sometimes, I mean, I am absolutely fucking brilliant. Because not only am I alive but I am thriving. I continue to fight back every single day – of course such a lengthy battle comes with it’s own collateral damage. And, my favourite part… I am making something excellent of myself.
I start college tomorrow (at the time of writing this) for the second time. The first time round, I nearly died. I made my worst suicide attempt to date and was just minutes away from an irreversible state. I think it’s safe to say that made it’s mark, the educational system is now a huge PTSD trigger for me. There may have been external factors at play but nevertheless, that happened when doing a course extremely alike to the one I am about to partake.
But my nutty ass is doing it anyway.
There’s something truly admirable in that. I have found what I want to do in life and I am not giving up. I have had people doubt my abilities, tell me that I cannot do it. I understand, astrophysics is no easy career and I have a hefty history. But I still ignore it. I know that I excel in both maths and physics – the two come naturally to me. I also feel happiest and most at home when immersed in complex quantum theory.
Now you’re really thinking I’m nutty, right?
Astrophysics is my niche in the world and I have always said that all I want in life is to be happy – that includes my career. I know I will never truly be satisfied without that Dr title… So why should I give up on that? Hey – I have endured all kinds of abuse, a little bit of astro is nothing!
I really hope to show to other care experienced people that you can achieve. We have all dealt with wars that most could never fathom, whatever you’re dealing with now is that collateral damage. Things may not be perfect, but they’re better. Don’t listen to those who tell you you cannot achieve. Hell, studies have shown us care leavers have more determination and drive than the average person; use that!!!
We are fucking awesome and we deserve the fucking world. Get out there and take it.
And don’t forget to show yourself a little appreciation!
(The future) Dr Casey Armstrong