Being a Better Me

Before coming to Cookson Hills, I always felt like I was alone. I pushed everyone I loved away and hurt them with my actions and words. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was causing so much pain to my family. Eventually, I hurt them to the point where they don’t know how to help me or guide me anymore. My mom and grandma would cry daily because of my actions. I regularly deceived them both and didn’t care whatsoever. At school, I chose bad friends. I never had one good friend that I could rely on or vent to, with the trust a friendship should have. At home, I would act like an angel, but my mom and sister always knew that I wasn’t being real with them. During my sophomore year of high school, my mom grew tired of my actions and sent me to Cookson Hills.

Starting Fresh

Cookson Hills was the place where I could start fresh and learn how to be myself. A place where I could make mistakes and grow from it. When I arrived on January 15th, 2018 with my dad, I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared, nervous, and excited to have a fresh start. After meeting my houseparents, I instantly felt loved and wanted to be with them. My social worker was just as loving, and it helped me feel like I belonged here. The students, teachers, and other houseparents were really welcoming and that helped me adjust. 

Set-backs and Struggles

After three weeks of my new life, I received the news of my grandpa’s death and that was painful. I went home for his funeral and was happy to reunite with my family. When I came back to Cookson Hills, all I felt was hurt and pain in my heart. I chose to let that pain define me. I felt weak. My first few months at Cookson Hills were not the best. I was dramatic, failing in my classes, and it was a huge problem. My carelessness showed and a lot of people didn’t want to be around me.

Change is a Choice

After having a house change, I decided that I wanted to really change myself. So at the end of my sophomore year, I started working in an on-campus job and making some good money. This really motivated me to stay out of trouble. I wanted to earn trust, not only with my houseparents, but also with my boss. When the time came around for my junior year to start, I made the ultimate decision to work hard and make good grades. I changed my mindset and told myself to do my homework every night. The goal that I set for myself worked well. I still had my bad days, but I turned my work in on time.

Healing Hurts Takes Time

Just a few short months later, my whole life went in a downward spiral. Everything that I had accomplished suddenly felt completely useless. I lost my closest friends, became depressed, and pushed away all the people who were trying to help me. I wanted to be left alone. There were many nights that I would cry because I knew how many people I hurt. Out of everyone, I knew I was hurting myself more than I hurt anyone else and that was the cause of my depression, anxiety, insecurities, etc.

For about four months, my life was miserable. But during those four months, I worked on trying to open my heart up to certain people again. It was a struggle, but it was worth it. And even through this time of my life, I still worked hard in school because I felt like it was the only thing that was going to keep me sane.

When 2019 came around, I made the choice to go to the people I had hurt and make amends. I knew how hard and scary it would be, but I was determined to fight for my life. I wanted people to trust me and like me, but I knew that it would take time. Since I talked to those people, I don’t feel like a horrible person anymore. I know that I made bad choices, but I chose to learn from them and now I continue to do better.

Reflecting on the Journey

In June, I went to CIY [Christ in Youth summer camp] and it was fantastic! I learned a lot about my peers and I became close to them. God loves me for all my mistakes in the past, present, and the future. I know now that I don’t ever have to measure up to perfection because it is impossible for me to be perfect.

Being here at Cookson Hills has been a great experience. I have good friends that care about me and a healthy relationship with someone who loves me for who I am and all my flaws. I have teachers who teach me all I need to know to help me in the future, and I have houseparents that help me grow in my relationship with God, myself, and others. My amazing volleyball coaches have shown me how to be a leader, be coachable, and learn. I also have my counselor who has helped me tremendously. Without counseling, I wouldn’t have the tools and resources that have helped me be a better me.

I’m now a senior at Cookson Hills and I am thankful to everyone who has been in my life. I have learned so much, and I am continuing to learn more so I can be prepared for whatever life has to offer. If it wasn’t for Cookson Hills Christian School, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Jennifer, Class of 2020, is from Colorado, and enjoys volleyball and hanging out with friends, as well as alone time.