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A Woman Alive

August 19th, 2013

A New Chapter

By Diane

Tomorrow is an exciting day as I travel to take my daughter Jessica to Syracuse University to start her freshman year.  Her journey to college was not an easy one.  I know that I made many mistakes as a parent.  Jessica has had heheadshotr share of hardships and difficulties because of that.  And Jesse is not the “perfect” child.  But she is my perfect daughter!  Her strength, tenacity and willingness to look AUTHENTICALLY at who she is, is something that all of us can learn from. I do hope you will take the time to read her story.  I believe she is off to college tomorrow because of her willingness to look deep into herself, acknowledge all of who she is and in that moment step truly into herself as a young woman. 

Jessica, I am so honored to be your mother and so grateful that you are my daughter.  Thank you for all of your gifts you so openly share.

A NEW CHAPTER

Courage; a word that everyone interprets differently.

For me, Mary exemplifies all the qualities I associate with courage. In the face of fear, doubt, and the unknown, she turned to God and looked within herself to follow what she intrinsically knew was the right decision. She stood by her son at a time when everyone else turned their backs from him, and even though she was unsure about her own future, she bravely stood her ground. Though I think it is presumptuous to compare myself to Mary, I too have had to bravely step into the unknown. Like Mary, I have had to believe in my own opinions and courageously take a leap of faith. However, I did not possess nearly as much grace as Mary while on my own journey of discovering exactly what possessing courage means.

As many of you know, I grew up in New York City. New York is an amazing place to grow up in, filled with culture, and exciting opportunities. However, the city can often be an isolating place and a world were young adults have to be extremely self-reliant and independent. When I began high school, the exposure, pressure, and chaos of the city began to take its toll on me. I slowly drifted from the young girl who dreamed of being a dancer and morphed into an unrecognizable version of myself. My life revolved around my social life. I no longer placed any value on family, integrity, or love. My self-destructive behavior became a vicious cycle, plunging me into a deeper and deeper depression. I was a lost soul. At my lowest points, I thought my life had no value and that no one would care if I were gone.

However, I was mistaken.

In the summer of 2011, I was given the opportunity to change my life. In an attempt to show my independence and rebel against authority, I decided not to attend a family member’s wedding and instead went on a trip with a friend to Baltimore. It was over that weekend that my aunt and uncle learned about the chaotic state of my life. Shortly after the wedding, out of the goodness of their hearts, they offered me a place in their home, the opportunity to pull my life together, and to make the dreams I had long since given up on become a reality. Though this opportunity was filled with so many positive aspects, I can never fully express the inner terror that engulfed me when I told my mother that I would accept my aunt and uncle’s offer.

That summer I spent a great deal of time contemplating what my new life was going to be like. I was not remotely close to my uncle’s family and prior to that summer we had only seen one another every couple years for a family event or holiday. I had no idea how I was going to fit into my uncle’s established family structure. I thought there was no chance of me ever actually fitting into their family dynamic. I figured I would always be viewed as the charity case. Additionally, I pondered what school would be like. I had previously attended a pre-professional performing arts public high school with 1800 students and would now be attending an all girls’ catholic school in Lake Forest with only 40 girls in my grade. I worried that I would have no friends and I knew I would be isolated from all I was familiar with halfway across the country. Through out that entire summer, my apprehension kept increasing. I was terrified that I would fail, that my uncle would end up hating me, or worse, that I’d be sent back to my disastrous life.

However, despite my fears and doubt about the next chapter of my life, I knew that I had to take that leap of faith. I knew that in order to create a life I could be proud of, I needed to sallow my pride and try. I accepted that it would not be easy, that at times I would want to give up, but I was determined not to do so. I knew I was better than what I had become.

So I left New York and began a new chapter here. Though I have faced my fair share of difficulties, moving here has ended up being the most incredible experience of my life. I have gained a sister in my cousin Killian, friends who I can’t imagine living without, and an appreciation for life I never knew existed. Overall, my life experiences have taught me that courage is not about being fearless, but rather courage is about acknowledging your fears and still choosing to follow your heart.

2 Responses to “A New Chapter”

  1. Courtney Bencze

    Jess,
    It’s been a gift to watch you blossom through this transformation from the young girl I met years ago, through all the challenges and into to a capable, driven, artistic, capable and fearless woman. I am blessed to have shared so much with you and your Mom… We are all always growing and learning… Thank goodness. You, your Mom, and the relationships we all share have contributed to my life in such honest, pure ways. Thank you. Both. I love you.

    Di, Challenges or not, you’ve done a damn fine job! Xo

  2. Stepping through Fear : A Woman Alive

    […] About a year ago I shared a blog by my daughter Jessica. In it she said, “My life experiences have taught me that courage is not about being fearless, but rather courage is about acknowledging your fears and still choosing to follow your heart.” Pretty smart for a then 19 year old! And how we live this truth over and again in our lives! (Read her blog here: http://awomanalive.com/648 […]

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