This is the essay I submitted to the NJ Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2015 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!
It is about 11:45 on a Wednesday morning, My friends and I are leaving Panera, where we just had lunch. As we are on our way out, my head jerks against my shoulder, and returns to its normal spot. This is common for me. It is just another one of my tics, But, as I look up, I see a man staring at me. His eyes are wide, and he makes a wide path around me, I stick out my chin and walk away with a smile. One man’s reaction to my Tourette Syndrome means nothing to me, but how I have grown to overcome it means everything. I have Tourette’s, and I tic, and sometimes I cannot control it. For me, however, it is not a barrier. It is a motivation to work harder. Like most people who have Tourette’s, I do not involuntarily swear (less than ten percent actually do), but I am proud to represent everyone no matter what form of the condition they have, I try to be a model of “Nothing is impossible to overcome!” When I see people look up to me, it makes me feel good to stand for what I believe in.
Last fall I auditioned for my high school musical, Young Frankenstein, In the past, I had been cast in mostly ensemble or minor roles, I assumed it was because the director thought my Tourette’s would be a distraction to the audience. I did not care that I was probably going to be given the same sized role as I had in prior years, I sang my heart out and acted to the point where I left my audition exhausted. Two days later, I was cast as the lead, Dr. Fronkensteen. My Tourette Syndrome was no longer an obstacle in my eyes. I have learned that when I am on stage, my tics disappear. I am a completely different person. I worked as hard as I could to get to this point, proving I can be an inspiration to others. When I work my heart out, I can beat any obstacle, especially if it is something preventing me from doing what I love.
In Spamalot a musical I performed in last summer, there is a song called “Find Your Grail.” It is about finding what a person desires to make him happy. I have found my grail: theatre. It is the aspect of my life that has had the most major impact on my development as a young adult. Theatre has taught me the importance of leadership, confidence, and commitment, and aided in developing my creativity and communication skills, It has helped me grow into my shoes by teaching me that being who I want to be is what matters; no one else’s opinion should affect how I think of myself.
Finding my grail has completely changed the way I look at the world. One moment I thought I knew myself, and the next, I realized that my grail was not at all what I thought it was, Maybe my grail is being who I want to be, Maybe it is truly being myself, knowing that every day, my Tourette’s is not a disability, but a motivation to work harder. I am proud to say I have Tourette Syndrome, and I am proud to call myself an individual. I am who I want to be. I am Alec.