“There are options, you know.”
“You have a whole life ahead of you. How could you do this to yourself?”
“You are so young.”
“A baby raising a baby.”
I was 16, six weeks pregnant, and the recipient of about 600 opinions on what my next step should be. It’s funny how many people turn into psychics and start predicting the future of a young parent, especially in the small town of Dayton, Ohio, where I grew up.
“Going to drop out."
Being the naturally competitive person that I am, I was powered forward by others’ anticipation of my defeat. I was determined to show them they were wrong.
Pregnancy hormones, on top of 16-year-old hormones and underlying mental health issues, are no joke. And pregnancy brain can be a wonderful excuse as to why you get a problem wrong on your math exam. I spent the majority of my junior year and first months of pregnancy looking in the mirror of Cleveland High School’s second-floor bathroom, pep-talking myself to get to class: “You got this. When it’s over you will look back and realize you can achieve anything.”
During my journey through pregnancy and high school, I met wonderful people who impacted my life. Their faith in my success was needed in those low moments of motherhood. I teach my now rambunctious three-year-old son the calming breaths I learned in yoga. Downward dog is a staple in my house because now, “Mommy is a bridge.” Josiah loves cat-cow pose because who doesn’t love turning into a cow and a cat? My planner is always filled out and color-coded, a skill I learned from my amazing caseworker.
Understanding that it really was going to be okay and the world is yours is so important. Being consistently reminded that success is a choice and the choice is yours was invigorating. I graduated on time and a few years later I am the youngest in my company to do what I do, successfully. My son starts preschool in the fall and turns into Superman in his free time. I am forever thankful for the support and skills I’ve learned.