After 15 years of living in Auburn, and this one town only, I have come to know people and they have come to know me. They all simply know me as Matthew, Matt, Matty L. and whatever else they can come up with. Personally I prefer Matthew to Matt or any other name. Why don't I like Matt? Well I am not sitting in front of a door all day with WELCOME written on me. Now that we have the introduction out of the way, let me tell of the person behind the name.

Before we move forward with who I am, let me just throw this skeleton out of my closet. I have only told a select number of people this secret and they are the only ones who know (and perhaps the eavesdroppers who decided it was their business). In mid April 2009, my life took a turn so steep that my life will never be the same again. I am not saying I can't be normal but there will always be something different for what is ahead of me in comparison to the fifteen years behind me. My parents broke me news that struck me hard; they decided to get a divorce. I couldn't believe what was happening; my heart was broken in two. It was nearly unbearable and I would pray every night that it was all a bad dream or a nightmare. I am aware that more than half of all American marriages end in divorce (and I wonder how different the statistics are when taking celebrities out of the equation). What would make me so special though? I do not have the power to change it. I just have to join the greater portion of Americans in the "my parents are divorced" club. I will delve deeper into that later; for now, it serves as a good hook to keep people listening (thank you Randy Pausch).

My childhood days were probably the most blissful of my life. I had no cares to speak of, just fun, you know the little kid stuff. That also means I had dreams; you cannot have fun without having dreams and imagining you are actually fulfilling them. I was really unsure of my dreams up until 5th grade. My first dream was to play baseball in the Major Leagues. One player, Nomar Garciaparra, had heavily influenced me. That got me into trouble with people in fifth grade, especially since I was such a loyal Nomar fan. I turned against the Boston Red Sox and became a Chicago Cubs fan. I just had a lot of fun playing baseball. At that time I was a back up on a team that was below little league level but I knew I could improve. The hardest thing was doing it alone; Mom and Dad worked all day and the rest of my relatives that were close enough to see me had no clue about the sport of baseball. When I told my parents my dream my mom supported me like she always does. I should make something very clear before people get the wrong idea; I love my dad, I truly do, but I have not had the best relationship with him. When he heard this dream of mine he might as well have just gone up to my face and laughed instead of rolling his eyes and saying "it will not happen." Well then, I thought, I can do it and you will watch it happen. Anyone who knows anything about spiting people in order to achieve your dreams knows that it is not the best idea and it rarely works out in the end. I ended up playing baseball, but I played poorly. It always seemed that I was the worst player on every team. Yes, in my second and third year of little league I had decent seasons, especially on defense. Looking back, however, all those guys on my team were having fun. I was too, however, I was also out there to spite my dad. That is by far one of the worst things you can do to play such a game. In fact, I would not realize until my first season of junior league that I was playing baseball for all the wrong reasons. My coach, Coach Wallace, was the first one to notice what I was doing. During our first game I was actually in the starting line up. I was able to get an assist in the first inning. It was my first time up to bat on the first pitch of the plate appearance and, I got drilled in the head. I took my rightful free pass to first base. I heard my dad yell, "If you can't hit the ball, let it hit you." Now, to most players that may have been comforting, but to me, I knew what my dad was really saying it was something like "that's about the only way you will get on base." The rest of the game did not go well I struck out my other two at bats and coach finally saw what was getting to me. He pulled me over after the game and said to me "Matt, what is with the spite in your game?" I explained the scenario and he said to me one of the wisest things I had ever heard. He said, "Matt, from now on play to have fun; forget that your dad is there, ignore the taunts and the rest of the crowd, go out there and have fun." So that's what I did the rest of the season. It would end with us losing in the first round of the playoffs but I had fun. Of course, I had my head down in shame. It was a tough season, being so close but yet so far. Coach saw me and said, "Matt". I looked up and he flipped me a ball. I caught it with my bare hand and he said, "It was a good season." Coach was right; this was the first season I could go out on the field and say "hey this is extremely fun."

That wasn't the last time I learned something from baseball. During my last season I was unhappy with the sport. I don't mind being a bench player but getting the bare minimal playing time every game was disappointing to say the least. Every game, I got one at bat and that was it. During one of the games, we were in the top of the seventh inning, we were the away team; it was our last chance to score before extra innings (if we could keep the other team from scoring). The game was tied 0-0. The pitching and defense had been incredible all game long. Our ace pitcher against the ace pitcher from the other team always makes for a good game. Well their ace let one go right in one of our batters wheelhouse and he cranked out a single. He went on to steal second base on a very close play. The next three guys up to bat would be coach's three "worst" players on the team. That included me. Our first batter struck out after a decent six pitch at bat. I recognized the pitcher on the mound. I had faced him before in the little league, admittedly. That had been two years ago. However, I did have success against him. I wondered if I could have the same success here, as everything was at least 66% longer distance than it was two years ago. I had to try. It doesn't always take a hit to contribute to a game. I knew exactly what I had to do (all of this ran through my head in the seconds it took me to get from the on deck circle to the batters box). Once in the batters box I did my bat routine and settled in with a large grin on my face. My confidence was shining through. The pitcher wound up and delivered. As he was about to throw I did something that caught him and the defense by surprise I squared around to bunt (a guy as slow as me bunting). It was too late for them to think of something; the third baseman had to rush to get in the grass leaving third base wide open for the runner on second to take it with no problem. The bunt moved past the pitcher to the third baseman. He had no player at third so he had to throw to the second baseman that was covering first because it is also the first baseman's job to run in on a bunt. I was out, but now even though we had two outs, we had a runner on third. I did not receive a congratulatory greeting from most of my teammates on the sacrifice. Some of them felt they should point out the obvious. "Hey our 'worst' player is up to bat." I said. "I have faith in him, besides he is not our worst." I got the rolling eyeballs and the "whatever's". My plan worked though as the pitcher made one mistake after another. He was so arrogant that he kept lobbing pitches not wanting to waste his arm on our "worst" hitter. Well, in four straight lobs, he walked him. He wasn't too happy about that because now he had to face our best hitter. Sure he was leading off but I judge best hitter by batting average not power (though he had a good chunk of both). He would end up smacking the ball into center field for a base hit that would drive the runner from third in; that made it 1-0. That would be all we would get but that was all we needed; we won the game 1-0. The lesson is that sometimes you can't do it all by yourself, sometimes you need to do a little bit and let someone better finish the job. In other words sometimes you just have to bunt. Since then I have not participated in an organized baseball league but I still play the game because it is fun and sometimes that is all that matters.

Baseball isn't the only thing that has influenced my life. Music has been a great influence on me, especially country and Christian and gospel music. I was a country music fan for a long time (that means as far back as I can remember). I remember the first song I ever considered my favorite. That was "Little Bitty" by Alan Jackson. Of course my favorite has changed over the years. Often, music has influenced my life. One song in particular has always inspired me. The song was "Maybe She's An Angel" by Tommy Shane Steiner. The lyrics of the song are so powerful and they remind you that you must respect people because you are being watched. You need to help other people by doing your best. Another song that is quite influential is "If Nobody Believed in You" by Joe Nichols. This song tells great stories about what happens if people have no one to believe in them. Every time I hear the first verse, it strikes me. It talks about a boy who quit trying at baseball after everyone expected him to fail, even his own father. The famous words are "tell me how would you feel, you'd probably give up too if nobody believed in you." Never can I say that I have used music to impress anyone but I think some songs have a good message and you should live by those messages and guidelines. Sometimes there might be a song you can relate to.

Of course it has always been a dream of mine to meet a country singer. Well, that would come true. One day in chorus class, I heard that a country singer (from Auburn no less), Glenn Stewart, was coming to AHS to perform. I was skeptical about the country singer "from Auburn" part but I was willing to give it a try. We were able to listen to one song, "Hey Sadie." It removed all doubts in my mind that this guy was country, "country that kicks". Well, I went to his website to check out some info. He wasn't famous yet, but he had one record and he had opened for big names like Brad Paisley, Sara Evans, and Tim McGraw. On April 29, 2009, he came to do a promotion for his show. During his promo, he asked how many people had been to his website. I raised my hand along with a couple of other people. He called on me and asked if I had listened to some of the music and I replied that I had. He asked, "Did you like the music?" I replied, "I loved the music!" He then asked if I had the CD. I replied "no I don't have the CD." He then asked if I wanted a CD. I replied that I would love a CD; he then said come up here and get it. I grabbed the CD and shook his hand thanking him. That wouldn't be the end though. His concert was May 1st. I would go, obviously. He had Caroline Geeze open for him, and she did a really nice job. When Glenn Stewart took the stage, it was party time. He was a great entertainer. He sang many songs as we all stood by the stage. He mixed in some covers with his own music. Somewhere in that concert he noticed me and told the crowd, "When I came to the high school this kid was jamming to the music! The name is Matt right?" I replied, "Yes." He then dedicated a song to me Chris Cagle's "What Kinda Gone". He did a superb job with the song making it his own. He also had me sing part of a song into the microphone (admittedly, it was "Let's Get Drunk and be Somebody" from Toby Keith's song "Let's Get Drunk and Be Somebody" which is totally against my morals but hey for something that is going on a live CD, who cares). I ended up getting the entire band's autograph along with his. I was completely psyched, and having no voice for the next 4 days was totally worth it. I actually knew a country singer!

Let me bring some of my school experiences into play. Getting from elementary school to Middle School was quite a pain. I wasn't the most popular kid in the school and we will just leave it at that. I thought that Auburn Middle School could be a new beginning for me. Certainly between one hundred new people to meet I would have the chance to make new friends. I wasn't that lucky.

Starting sixth grade was like getting a breath of fresh air. I was on the same team as my "friends." Lunch was the only time I had the chance to be with any of them, and talk. Little did I know that my "friends" strategically sat together to eat lunch. It wasn't until the end of the first quarter that I found out about this. They did allow me to be with them. Being with my friends offered me protection from the people who had been trying to invade my mind, and bring out emotions that would give them pleasure, and me pain. The end of sixth grade came in a flash. It had been an easy year. I didn't think it would go as smoothly as it did, but it was still rougher than I had hoped.

Seventh grade brought me some of the worst times, yet it brought me the best opportunity my life has had to this date. The beginning of seventh grade started where sixth grade left off (well sort of). My "friends" seemed to start slipping to the ways of a darker side. They started using more colorful language, hand gestures, and worst of all they were using it on each other. I then started struggling with my emotions. On one side I was getting stressed out with my friends' abuse towards each other, but if I crossed to the other side I would be alone and be abused emotionally. My mind and heart were being torn without having anyone even thinking about attempting to stitch them up. I saw no enlightenment. I was falling into a dark abyss that disabled prevented me from trusting people, even my "friends." However, my renaissance appeared. One nice March day, Mr. Blazis, a retired AMS science teacher came to the school to talk about his annual exotic trip to the Amazon Rainforest. He persuaded many people, including myself, to go on the trip the following February. Little did any of us know what would be in store for us when we embarked on this adventure. I only knew that I should take my chance when opportunity arose because if you don't take chances you will never live the full potential of your life.

Seventh grade brought another opportunity into my reach. Every year the middle school does a play. This specific year was different; we were doing an original; a child-hood tale that a father told his daughter and son when they were young. He completely made up these stories. The daughter eventually grew up to become a guidance counselor at Auburn Middle School. We know her as Mrs. Graves. The play was named Tundalao and Prince Key after the stories about the two main characters. I had never been in a play before, let alone an original work. I like the idea of making a part what it was because of my efforts. I ended up trying out and I am glad I did. I got the part of Maestro Crab also known as the "exiguous crustacean with a penchant for harmony, inscription, and an inconceivably astonishing vocabulary." I was only part of one scene, but it was probably the most inexorably exhilarating thing I had ever done. I was completely overjoyed to do it. It was a place where I could get away from my life's problems. So next time your depressed, find something that takes your mind off of your troubles. Do not live in this imaginary world but use it every now and again to cheer you up.

Summer vacation was my time to plan what I had to do to make eighth grade more bearable than seventh. I figured I would have to wait until February to make life better. I would attempt to gain the respect of my Amazon teammates. Until then I would have to hang on by using hopes and dreams, and any other unlimited positive source. I could not go to my past it would just make me more miserable. I had to hang on no matter how much it hurt. Of course a back brace did not help my self-esteem. I had a problem with my back known as kyphosis. An Orthopedic doctor told me to get a back brace. If the physical therapy and the back brace did not correct my problem I would have to undergo surgery that would disable me from a lot of the activities I love. I was determined to do whatever it took to avoid going "under the knife." Luckily our family was a friend of Mr. M. He told us to go to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and go to a Chiropractor named Dr. PRB. Under the care of Dr. Bacon, as well as committing to a very structured exercise regimen, my back pain has improved beyond belief. I no longer wear a back brace and I am told that if I continue to perform my exercises, there is no reason I should have to have surgery. Perseverance pays off.

I mentioned before Mr. B's exotic "vacation" to the Amazon. Well, on Valentines Day, February 14, 2008, we were on our way to the Ecuador via bus, plane and dugout canoes. While in the Amazon, once in a lifetime experiences were an every day occurrence. The extraordinary hospitality of the natives was beyond what anyone could ever even dream of. To hear the cries, screams, and songs of some of the most magnificent animals in the world was another thrill. Alas, our joy couldn't last forever; we had to leave the Amazon, and go back to Quito. It was better than going home right away, but we were leaving a family that accepted us with open arms. We had a final night in Quito where we were going to tell about a life changing experience while we were in the Amazon. We all had to say something. I had two things in mind, one that would be so easy to say and another that would probably end up leaving me in tears as I said it. I didn't want to look weak in front of everyone. That was my brain talking; don't look weak. My heart was telling me who is to judge if crying is strong or weak. True strength comes from true emotions. Being able to speak from the heart may show what people consider weak but it shows you are strong at heart. No one here on earth can judge weak or strong, rich or poor, good or bad; they do not understand what any of it means. They do not know how to measure these things when it comes to love. It was a good thing I listened to my heart. The entire time I was in the Amazon, I had noticed a certain respect everyone had for each other. So when I got up and I let my heart say, "The reason I came here (all of a sudden I noticed that didn't sound right so I corrected myself) or I should say one of the reasons I came here was to make strong bonds with the natives, and to make stronger bonds with the people I call my classmates. When I'm here I want to be looked at (I had messed up again I didn't want to be looked at like I was at school that would just be a nightmare I had to pause to gather my thoughts). When we are back at school (now tears were starting to come I wanted to stay here; I didn't want to go back) I want to be looked at and treated like I am now. With a tear stained face I sat down and heard the applause coming from my family. Not the family you are thinking of', but the family that had been made by the bonding of friendship that we gained for each other in the Amazon, one that will remain in the hearts and minds of us all. No matter how far apart we are, we need only to hear the word "Amazon" and we are back in a time of a spectacular event that can never be erased.

Returning home was difficult, in the way you are probably thinking and more. Flying home that Friday would prove to be impossible, literally. Our flight home to Boston was canceled. After some brilliant planning, the adult chaperones brought us to stay in a hotel in Miami and we would take a flight to Montreal the next day, and take a coach home from there. The moral of the story is, always have a plan B. When we got back to Auburn we rejoiced to see our family, and we mourned to leave our other family behind. The Amazon experiences that we had are the ones I treasure the most; to this day they were the best days of my life. It gave me the strength to move on, I know there are people who care about me now, and I cannot afford to let them down.

By now I think you have noticed the times I have mentioned the word friends in a sarcastic tone. You are probably asking yourself why, if he is so stressed out with his friends, doesn't he just give up on them. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you would like to look at it, there are more questions than that. Who else is willing to be my friends? You probably answer that with "Your Amazon teammates" (negative). I have not had a real conversation with any of them since the trip ended. I fear even after what I said back in Ecuador that they did not take me seriously. Don't get me wrong, I am not accusing anybody, I am just terrified of the plausible end results. Besides, can't people change? I believe people can change if they are willing to do so. I can't give up on them; I wouldn't like people giving up on me. I refuse to think that there is no good in still being friends with them. Until my last ounce of strength they will still be my friends.

The rest of eighth grade was a struggle. My friends (the ones I haven't given up on) were still a bit of a burden for me. I had to fight though, no matter how much it hurt, I would not give up. Academically, I was doing fine. I was at least in the top sixteen of the diamond team. My friends continued to pound on each other; it got so bad at points where we divided. We would come back together each time (though it did take a while sometimes). Things started looking up at the end of third term. One day, Mrs. Graves, our guidance counselor disrupted our algebra class to introduce a new student, Andrew. He had already been assigned some shadow students. His shadows did not happen to be in his French class, however. I started to talk to him a bit but he was a little uncomfortable since it was his first day. I let him be; I had never moved from one place to another but I knew it was probably hard. Little did I know how hard it actually was. The next day I found out it was far more difficult than I thought. That's all he told me though, and I don't blame him; it must be hard when it is very complicated. During lunch that day I could not sit with my friends because there were no seats available to me. I sat alone at lunch that day, but then Mrs. Graves informed me that the people assigned to shadow Andrew had ditched him. I was enraged when I heard that. She then told me that he had mentioned me as the person he trusted. I was glad someone trusted me. I then went to sit with him and talk to him. We ended up becoming good friends, and I figured then that maybe my life was turning around. It seemed that there was someone watching over me. He is probably one of the best friends I have ever had. Sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Of course there is one thing that has brought me more joy tan any other thing in the world. It isn't tangible, and it can't even be seen. It is my catholic faith. Whether it be a trip I took with the church, or people I met or the lessons I learn from the bible. Sometimes it seemed like the readings every week corresponded with what I was going through and what I needed to help improve my life. I believe God works in mysterious ways. In September 2007, I joined the newly formed youth choir at our church for people 13-18. How could I go there and not meet new people. Well it was there where I would meet a new friend, Tim. He is a cool guy. He doesn't go to Auburn Public Schooling. He is home schooled so I only got to see him once every other week for choir practice. Tim and I both had the same vernacular. It seemed we had the same response to every question. We would respond indeed or verily (you know the kind of responses that make people think you are slightly strange).

Of course, although I was friends with Tim, now I was overlooking someone else in the choir; someone who wanted to be my friend and kept trying different ways to make me notice that. This person would just maybe say hi or just try to jump in on a conversation when I was talking about something she knew about (yes it was a she and no she did not have a crush on me and no I didn't have a crush on her). I had no clue who she was, how was I supposed to know who she was; we never had a formal introduction. I had never even had a friend who was a girl before; of course I was clueless (what do you expect I am a guy). It wouldn't be until the last day that we were all together that I would realize something. We were at our little end of the choir season get together at Ronnie's. I was just talking to Tim when she came up and said, "Hello Matt, and Tim." I responded, "Hello" (not knowing what her name was). Tim replied, "Hey Shannon" (now at least I knew her name). Well she ended up joining our conversation and let me just mention that her hair color was blonde; which means "one of those moments" was bound to happen. We were talking; I don't remember what it was about but it was one of those moments where you just say "wow" (not one of those amazed ones but one of those long extended wow's). She ended up saying wow, and I having a tendency to spell out wow during one of those moments said "W-O-W." She asked me "what does that mean?" I couldn't believe it I started laughing. She then was really confused asking, "What is so funny?" I then asked her, "Think about it; what does W-O-W spell?" It took her a couple seconds and then she said "Oh wow;" now this oh wow could be taken in more than one way, it can be oh wow as in oh it spells wow, or oh wow, as in oh wow that was dumb of me, in this case it was both. She then repeated "Wow." I once again stated "W-O-W." She then raised her voice and as kindly as possible yelled, "Shut up!" to me; this in the strangest way marked our friendship.

It is now time to get to some of the best days of my life so far, and some of the worst days of my life. Freshmen year was as Charles Dickens would say "the best of times and the worst of times." My first day at Auburn High School, I was extremely nervous. I was the most inexorably paranoid person in the school. I had a lot of fear that things might be like middle school. I didn't let people see that though. I remember the first thing we had to do and that was report to home base. My homeroom teacher Mr. Hurly instructed us on what we need to do in high school. He also threw in his relentless humor. He found everyone's funny bone pretty quickly (I guess that is an advantage of being an anatomy teacher). I remember getting my schedule and reporting to all my classes and nothing noteworthy happened. We were introduced to our teachers and given a list of things to do throughout the year. There was one interesting class, chorus. As there wasn't much to do, we were goofing off. Well guess who just happened to be in my chorus class that I could goof off with? Shannon (I know W-O-W right). Seeing as we hadn't seen or talked to each other in about three months (that day at Ronnie's) and we had only just become friends there was a lot of talking to do. Well she would end up with in the next few days becoming probably my best friend; now do not get me wrong I hold all of my friends equal, but she is the one I trust and talk to the most and she would become the most beneficial friend during times that were yet to come.

Let us not end the good times, as there remained the friends that I still hadn't given up on. It was the best decision I had ever made. They developed their own personalities, which were more beneficial to what they needed to do in life. We came back closer as friends; it was a miracle only possible through what I know was the wondrous work of God answering my cry for help. Of course I was not in many classes with them. In fact there was only one friend of mine who was actually in an honors class besides me. His name was Sean. I had been a friend of his since 4th grade. We were now stuck in the same Biology class and, it wasn't going to be easy, not with Ms. Kaschuluk at least. She took one look at the textbook we were supposed to use and decided she didn't like it. She made everything very difficult and at first none of us liked her. Well I wasn't going to make it out of that class alive with only one friend. During our first group assignment, I was partnered up with people I knew of but not people I knew. Well that is how I ran into Victoria. While we were working we were getting our first test of the year passed back to us. She had received hers and got something in the nineties that I do not remember. I said to her "Good job, I don't really want to see mine." She then replied back to me, "Oh I wouldn't worry you are smarter than I am and if I got this you probably did at least the same." Now we had never actually met before in Middle School she was on the opposite teams. Somehow despite barely knowing me she knew I was "smart" (I will admit to having intelligence but I do not think I am on the Auburn High School's class of 2012's top 10). I told her I highly doubt that I am smarter. Well within a couple minutes I received my test back. She looked over to see if her suspicions were right. Naturally they were; I actually scored one point higher than she did. Somewhere between the small talk we became friends.

I also made another new friend within the first two weeks of school. How did this one come to be? I don't remember. I know it was along this story line. I had been in Algebra I in eighth grade. My grades weren't enough to carry me with the small select few who would go on to Algebra II. Of course that meant I had to take Algebra I again freshman year. As I said though, I was not the only one in that boat. A girl named Mary Gannon who had been in my class the year before had to come back to Algebra I. Once again she ended up being in my algebra class. This time though during one of the classes she started talking to me. We were way ahead of everyone else. We knew all the stuff and got high marks. We decided to work together on work sheets to check each other's answers. If we got different answers we checked and found out who was right. Somewhere between the formal introduction and the partner work we became friends. Of course Victoria and Mary were in other classes of mine and they made them very fun. We did our work too. We had high marks in all our classes. I learned pretty quickly that friends make the school year go by easier. Plus they are there when you need them when you have problems. I was soon about to need that support.

This is the part where I tell you about the effects of the divorce, I suppose. I was heart broken. I couldn't bear it. I didn't sleep that first night. I only cried. I couldn't bear to listen to it anymore. The words ran through my head. I would return to school Monday. I couldn't hide the pain. My friends would ask me what was wrong, but I refused to tell most of them. During chorus that day, Shannon asked what was wrong. I told her nothing was wrong and that I was just tired. Out of all people in this world Shannon knows me better than anyone and she was not biting the line I was feeding her. I knew she didn't believe me. I could tell by the stare that said I don't believe your bologna sauce (to keep this appropriate). I told her I would talk to her after class. Once chorus ended, she asked me what was wrong. I told her the truth as a tear ran down my face. She then said she was sorry to hear what happened and if ever I needed her support she would be there. She became the person I talked to about it. I would go on walks every day and sometimes I would walk with her. We would walk and she would listen to my problems and try to help me and then she admitted some of hers. Not many friends talk about these kinds of problems to each other. As we talked, our friendship grew and it made us feel better. It was therapeutic in more ways than one.

Of course I have other friends that I told too. Some of them have divorced parents themselves, which always comes with good advice. It was still hard for me though. I didn't want to be home much because of the arguing my parents did. So, I went on walks everyday to escape. Well the story gets better (I am being sarcastic). One day in May I inverted my ankle (way to go Matthew). Basically that means I wouldn't be taking those walks for a while; I was on crutches. I was most disappointed in my carelessness. How was I going to see my friends now outside of school? I couldn't escape the misery and despair now. There was no way I could find a way out of this hole I dug myself into. Every day I was at school I was thankful for the time I had there because it was time away from home. My dad had just gotten laid off so during a day off from school, I would have to spend it in full with my father and I really didn't want to hear him talk about my mother. At least at school I was with friends. To tell you the truth, the Biology final brought me less stress than being home.

My last day at school was over. I knew that the rest of the summer would be spent mostly at home. I became so depressed, and it hadn't even been two weeks. I came to a realization. I couldn't spend the whole summer like this. Who could I turn to though? My friends were out of reach, and I had nothing going on, nowhere to go, and nothing to do. Who could I turn to? The answer was right in front of my face. I was just in my room dwelling on all that I was going through. All of a sudden something fell from my bookshelf. Not only was it a book, but it was also a sign. The book that fell was my Bible. Right there I hit my knees and prayed for forgiveness and I surrendered myself to Him. I rose with a new sense of confidence. I was now complete. I had completely bonded with God. I now knew how I needed to live my life, and I would let God guide me. I now can turn to God when I need Him. He has always been the one to send me my blessings, whether it was friends or experience. This is not just something I think; it is something I know.

Have I told you that I want to be a psychologist yet? I might have forgotten to mention that. Why would I want to do that? Well let's just say I have the experience of problems in my life. There is much more that has influenced my opinion on a career choice. My brother was diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder related to autism known as Asperger's Syndrome (AS) when he was in 5th grade. AS is not as severe as many other mental disorders, in fact it is one of the mildest. I could name people in this school with AS and you would say, "Huh, I wouldn't have guessed." It is characterized by mostly social abnormalities. Other symptoms might include an awkward walk, or abnormal everyday things like an abnormal pencil grip, or an abnormal pitching form. Certainly I know enough of these people to know a great deal about AS. I also have done countless reports on AS. My freshman biotech project was on AS and so was another paper I wrote for health class. When he was diagnosed, it was recommended that he join the local Special Olympics team (the Auburn Rocketeers). My mother would give it a try. The first day that he tried it he sincerely enjoyed it. It was the best thing for him and we let him keep going with it. He would end up getting involved in three sports bowling, cycling, and swimming. It wouldn't be long before I joined too. I was never diagnosed with a disability, however I was eligible as a unified partner. That is when you actually work with an athlete who doesn't want to participate alone. I would become a unified partner for a girl named Ashley in cycling and a boy named Jack for bowling. I would end up befriending many people on the team. The team was like a family. No matter how well or poorly they performed, every athlete had a good time and did their best. They always congratulated each other on times and scores even if that meant a bowling score of less than thirty. I can't help but think to myself that these are the real athletes. These are the people that should be on ESPN or making millions of dollars because they all have talent. All of it comes from where it matters, the heart.

These people sincerely touched me. Often times, many of these people don't get diagnosed because not enough is known about their disorders. I want to help these people and people going through other problems, like divorces and people who just are having struggles in their lives. I want to help people. I plan on getting a PhD in Psychology. All my life I have wanted to help people and I think Psychology is the way to go. The one reason that I would prefer a degree in psychology to psychiatry is because I do not want to deal with prescribing drugs.

I have told you a lot about myself and my influences and my experiences. These are the most important ones that have shaped who I am. In case you're wondering where I get the need to explain everything with a lot of detail, maybe even what some may consider unnecessary, I will just tell you I read a lot of Jack London. Just because I have seen tragedy and I may be experiencing it right at this moment, I do not want people feeling badly for me. I have also experienced great happiness in my life. That is why we carry on because tomorrow could be better than today and we do not know what to expect. I also know that God walks beside each and everyone of us and tries to help us go in the right direction and He is someone I don't want to disappoint more than anyone else. That's where most of my influence comes from, God. He has given me every blessing, and has helped me fight every curse. This is where I stand through life, and death I will live on as my lecture states. This is how people will remember me.