By Kate Anderson, Staff Writer

I have issues.

Not issues of The Wrangler Magazine, while I do have those, I have deep, cold, unwanted issues that have been pressed into my soul like a hot iron to a heifer’s backside. I have been branded by my past and the people in it who have screwed me up so much I am still to this day struggling to get past it.

From Kindergarten all the way until 7th grade I was severely bullied. I can remember every nickname, every fat joke, every teacher’s pet joke (hmm maybe the reason I stuck by the teachers was because I had no real friends my own age), every little thing my peers said to me in order to bring me down. Eight years of my life were wasted being tormented by these people who had nothing better to do but to bring down my spirit.

But I refused to tell anyone. I would sit in my room and cry at night because I felt unwanted, unneeded, and most of all, unimportant. All of this was so untrue because I had an amazing family that would do anything for me and valued me more than I could ever imagine, yet all of that love and appreciation was clouded by the names and jokes I was plagued by on a daily basis.

And this was not okay.

Then, I thought, I had finally found a light at the end of the tunnel. My parents told me we would be moving the spring semester of 7th grade to Texas, and I was happier than ever. I would finally be away from those horrible names and evil jokes, and I would finally get the chance to start over. A new beginning. A new me.

And I was so right.

I met some of the most wonderful people who accepted me, maybe not all at once, but they still befriended me and accepted me into their group of friends. This was all new and beautiful, and I knew I had found where I belonged.

I also joined Sugar Land Baptist Church where I  saw the “light”. I had accepted the Lord when I was in 4th grade, but I didn’t know everything that being a Christian entailed. These people at SLBC showed me a love and life that I wanted and  I craved to be a part of.  I then learned and grew in spirit.  Everything was my version of perfect because I was happy, had friends, and, most of all, I wasn’t being bullied.

Then 9th grade rolled around.

I fell into the wrong group, which I thought was pretty cool and nice at first, and then the names and jokes started to flow again. My self-confidence plummeted, and my anger rose. I was mean to the true friends I had, and whenever they tried to ask me what was wrong, I shut them down. I had turned into a depressed and awful person who thought everyone was out to get me and hated me, all because a few girls decided to put me down in order to boost their ego.

And I let them do it.

I was weaker than ever and blamed it on myself for not being pretty enough or worth anyone’s time. I hated God because I thought he found me useless and not worth saving from this torment. I walked away from my Savior and myself, and it was so scary.

That December I went on a retreat with my church (which I did not want to go to because that meant I would have to be around people and pretend to be happy), but it turned out to be the place my life changed forever. I was introduced to a person that was so nice and so caring, and it was so strange to me at that time I took it with a grain of salt because I was afraid of getting hurt again. He revealed to me, again, that people are nice and do accept me for who I am.

Let me tell you, that was the greatest relief.

I was able to mend relationships I  almost lost, got rid of the toxic people, and figured out my calling in life. I want to major in nursing at a university and then, a few years after college, team up with a few other doctors and nurses and travel internationally to help people in third-world countries who cannot afford medical care or attention. I found I love helping people, and it gives me such a great joy whenever someone smiles after I help them. Even if it is the simplest of tasks, it can mean the world to whomever you are helping.

Now, two years later, I am still in love with my calling. A calling that I would have never found if I let a few people control my life with negativity. While I still struggle to forgive those in my past and get rid of the old habit of automatically building up walls, I am content with my life and am continuing to grow as a person daily.

I want everyone who is reading this in the same position I was to know that you are not alone! People care! Do not let a group of people put you down, because if someone does that, then they are not worth your time or energy. You are strong, you are beautiful, you are you, and that is the best you can be!

I have issues, but I am more than my issues.