We had the pleasure of talking to Brooke Bates about being Lady of the month! Brooke is currently in her junior year of college, majoring in engineering. She is accomplished in many ways and had a lot of positive input to give. Her story is very moving. We admire her deeply for being the strong women she is and for not giving up and working to achieve her goals. Here is her story, we hope it will inspire you to stay positive and to follow your dreams!
“As a young girl I always had such a big heart, I cared about everyone and everything. I went into elementary school with a great start. I was nice to everyone and had tons of friends. Since I always saw the best in people I assumed they would see the best in me. I saw kids get bullied and would feel bad for them but never thought that it would ever happen to me. My first years of elementary school seemed to just fly by. Until my perfect little world, came crumbling down little by little.
In the summer of second grade my mom noticed a little bald spot on the side of my head. Since I was such an active kid she thought that maybe I accidently got it pulled out from playing outside. As days went by I noticed that one bald spot was turning into multiple bald spots, then patches and before I knew it I only had one-third of a head of hair, no eyebrows, and no eyelashes. Going into third grade I did not think it was a huge deal that I didn’t have all my hair, throughout the summer my family didn’t make a big deal out of it, so I figured no one else would. I was VERY mistaken.
I went into third grade with the same loving and caring attitude that I always had, excited about the year to come. I left, however, never wanting to step foot out of my house ever again. The kids tormented me, called me names, and some even refused to talk or touch me. I would never say anything mean back to them in fear that it would hurt their feelings as they were hurting mine. It got to the point where I would wake up in the morning, lay in my bed and scream and cry to not go to school. My mom would literally have to dress me and drive me to school, in tears and all. When we’d arrive I would refuse to get out of the car, but even as I cried she would force me into the building. I missed so much school that they had to put me in special learning classes, which I also got teased for. This went on for three years until I finally hit middle school. Summer of fifth grade my hair finally came back and I went into sixth grade as a whole new person. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that same sweet loving girl I always had been. To me, the world was now filled of terrible people and terrible things. Instead of seeing the good in people I only saw bad. I had a super “popular” brother, Brandon, in the eighth grade so I was immediately placed into the “popular group”. I thought I was on top of the world. Finally middle school ended and I was so excited to get into high school with my brother, I assumed again that I was going to instantly be liked considering my older brother was going to be there. I thought high school was going to be the time of my life. Once again, I was VERY mistaken.
A week into the summer of eighth grade, I was awoken in the middle of the night to my parents sitting on my bed. My mom’s head was buried in my dad’s shoulder. Instantly thoughts started rushing through my head but nothing came close to what I was about to hear. My dad finally said “It’s Brandon” he became filled with emotion and put his face in his hands. My mom lifted her head up and said “He didn’t make it Brooke”. They got up off my bed and left me sitting in the darkness of my room. When I had finally gotten up, I stepped out of my room and looked to my right to my brother’s closed door. My first thought was to open it and tell him the terrible news, until reality hit me. I walked up the stairs to police officers and family friends everywhere. June 10th, 2007 at around 11:45pm my brother had gotten into a fatal car accident. The next weeks flew by like it was a dream, a terrible dream that I hoped to be soon awakened from. The following year were filled with more and more horrible things.
High school was extremely hard without my brother there to save me from the world anymore. As I walked through the halls people stared and whispered about my tragedy. My parents soon split up and I lost all of my friends due to my depression. Now, my days consisted of music, art, and sleeping. I became a person I never thought I would ever become. I never went to school and hated almost everyone. I went three years of my life thinking that my life was pointless and there was nothing in the world for me. As days continued to go by my depression slowly faded. I started to accept my life and try to make the best out of what was given to me. I realized that no matter how I acted or felt the world would still continue without me. No one was going to fix my life and make it all better, not because they didn’t want to but because no one had the power to help me, besides me. I decided to change my life. I started reaching out to the world, to others who had experienced grief and sadness, like I had, whether it was from bulling, or death, sadness is sadness.
I started a non-profit for teenagers that were going through hard times like I had. This was a place that once a week teenagers could get away from their hard lives and talk with others that understood them. I learned more from these teens than I ever could have imagined. I am now 20 years old at college studying mechanical engineering, a major that 5 years ago I never would have thought I could handle. I take a look back at my life and what I had gone through. I would not change it for anything. The people and events that pushed me down made me that much stronger. I realized that there are only two ways to react to the world: in a positive way or a negative way, and believe it or not you choose this. It doesn’t matter which one you choose that event still happened, and nothing is going to change it. The only thing that you do have the power to control is how you handle it. You control you and your thoughts but you will never control the world. My advice to people out there who are getting bullied is be exactly who you want to be. Whether your being yourself or trying to be someone else, people are still going to judge you whether it’s in a good or bad way.
No matter what you do you will never change people’s opinions, but what you can do is change your opinion about you. “You only live once”- A quote we hear so often that we don’t stop and actually think about it. Today is your only today and if you’re not happy with your life and who you are, you’re the only one that can change it. Take your pain and hate and turn it into strength and love; become someone who can handle anything”.