Many individuals and youth visit various Workforce Solutions career offices daily seeking employment, training, the use of computers and fax machines, or interview with an onsite employer that’s hiring. As adults, we all face life challenges in taking care of self and family, but sometimes we neglect taking the time to speak with our kids regarding some of the challenges they may be facing in school, or something personal they are dealing with from an emotional perspective.
I would like to share a young man’s story when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at an early age and how he handled his challenge. After he shared his story, I felt led to share it with others that are facing a similar challenge and to let them know they are not alone. I hope you will evaluate yourself and use this story as a tool to help your kids. Embrace them with the understanding that we all have various challenges throughout life that we need to overcome. It could be emotional, financial, physical, or due to job loss. It does not matter, the point is: please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Workforce Solutions partners with various organizations such as Vocational Rehabilitation Services, formerly known as DARS, to help with challenges to independence. Please read the story below and hopefully, it will give you a different outlook regarding your challenge.
Everyone’s life is worth living, whether it feels good or disappointing. Most people have faced challenges in life, but some must face more difficult challenges. Many of us may think we are either cursed or perhaps God simply does not care for us. This can cause depression, anxiety, or maybe even suicidal thoughts. Well, that’s an understatement compared to what happened to me.
Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 10 years old, I was socially challenged, depressed, full of anxiety, suffered low self-esteem at a young age, and made fun of in grade school. Every day when I came home after school, I went straight to my room, jumped in my bed and asked myself: “What did I do wrong? Why was my childhood like this? Out of millions of people in this country, why should it be me? And, why do I have so much stress and anger? Is this just my fate?”
Some people could see what I was experiencing and believed it was crazy to have depression at a young age, especially being raised by two loving parents. I lived in a stable household and had a close relationship with my three siblings. But it can happen to anyone including those who have reached their dreams, so I could not be the only young man or individual with this problem. Also, this caused me to eat unhealthy food and gain so much weight throughout the years. I was always eating food just because I was so sad about myself. Was it bad for my body and emotions? Yes. Did I know it was bad for my body? Kind of. Did I care when was younger? Not really.
Now, I don’t worry about it because I am working out and shedding pounds. I am not going to lie; I did not know my path or my future when I graduated from high school. I have asked myself many questions and wondered what the future had in store form me: “How can socially-challenged young men like me live life after high school and college? How would I connect with my future co-workers? What will my life be like in the future?” But something inside of me told me to just keep going.
So, I followed my gut feeling and continued to keep going. Later, when I decided to attend Prairie View A&M University, I looked in the mirror and saw something in me. I started to feel and act differently. I started to change physically and mentally. Attending college, meeting and interacting with other students, I had begun to change and feel different in a positive way that I never would have imagined. I was feeling less depressed and more excited about my future. I felt stronger, like I had turned into a Super Hero.
Honestly, I feel this will be a good story to share with my children once they get older and let them know that life is full of challenges, and life does change. So, all I am saying is do not ever quit on yourself or your life. Don’t believe your life has little or no worth; it is worth everything. You must live life as an individual, whether young or old. If you feel like you don’t see why God put you on this earth, you’re not looking hard enough, or looking in the wrong places. I’m so excited to see what my future holds and what is going to happen when I graduate from college. I have never been more excited about life than I am currently!
I hope after reading this young man’s story you will view your life challenges differently, and take on the role as an overcomer.
Carolyn Kennard is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. She conducts job search skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region. Before embarking on a career in workforce development, Carolyn achieved success in marketing and training with a major oil company. Carolyn holds a B.A. degree from Virginia State University and an M.A. degree from Prairie View A&M University.