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Only days away... by Addyson Soderquist, scholarship recipient 2023

Only days away from my high school graduation, I can't help but think about how much has much I have changed and grown from the frustrated freshman girl who was getting by, but definitely not thriving as we headed into the pandemic. I can't help but feel thankful even, for the time the world shut down and school changed so much, that it was actually just what I needed to get me far enough out of a routine to help my frustrations find a name, and then a plan, and now a much happier me.

It was during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak, that I learned of my diagnosis, and it may sound strange to outsiders, but for me, putting a label on what I was feeling made so much sense. Learning that I am autistic was such a welcomed ah-ha. For me, it gave me the vocabulary to understand my frustrations and what was fueling them. And, once I knew and could pinpoint my areas of concern, I began to quickly be able to best cope with sensory issues and lessen anxiety. What had seemed so confusing and had made me feel alone and abnormal, turned out to actually empower me.

I say all of this to maybe give hope to other girls, dealing with frustrations like damp hair on their shoulders after a shower, or sand at the beach stuck to their legs. Or maybe there are other girls out there not dealing with teenage drama very well, and feeling exhausted after social events, to the point they just want to sit in silence. Do not fear what you are feeling. For me, finding out was the best thing that could've happened. And, now, as I head to college, with so many changes on the horizon, I am confident I can meet them head-on even enjoy the new chapter and all of the newness that is surely going to come with it.

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