Rise UP

silhouette of people jumpingThe other day I got stuck in this moment of thought. A short moment where I truly observed where I was standing, where I was breathing, what I was looking at. A room full of youth and walls filled with art work that screamed hope and resilience. The air filled with laughter and belonging, like there was this sense of safety and an absolution that something was going to be okay. It was our weekly youth group, something I had gotten so use to facilitating that I had forgotten that I once walked through the doors of the group for the very first time. It suddenly dawned on me that where I stood now and where I stood many years ago is a victory and I must remind myself every day to appreciate and acknowledge it.

I had just turned eight years old when my adoptive mother chose to no longer be a part of my life and to no longer be a mother to me. She kept my two brothers, therefore separating us when she sent me away into the system. In this moment as a young, curious, and fragile child without a care in the world, I was introduced to the most excruciating, painful trauma that life can bestow on one’s journey.

It was a second time shock, giving your heart, your soul, your belonging, to someone the world chose to be your mother, for them to just one day change their mind. I no longer had a mother to guide me, take me to my first day of middle school, brag about me at a high school graduation, and send me off to college. I no longer had a mother to go to one of my baseball games, be proud of me when I received awards, and cheer me on when I performed at talent shows.

However, all of those little things I realized I could still do while standing proud and strong. I could still grow up a man and know how to treat a woman. I could still receive an award and have people who support me look up at me and be proud of me. I could still be proud of myself. I could fall and tumble down the hill, make a whole bunch of new mistakes, and still get up and come back better than before.

The love and respect I could not receive from one woman was not going to impact the love and respect I had for myself, nor what I could give to others. Yes I acted out, yes I did drugs, yes I got into fights, yes I was lost and my heart was filled with anger! But that was then and this is now. I am 20 years old and I provide for myself. I live in an apartment in the city and I have a job. I advocate for youth and young adults from ALL backgrounds and I give them a voice. I’ve spoken on panels and facilitated trainings to educate others and make change. I did this despite one woman’s decision to decide my worth, to decide my value. I am where I am today because I chose that this is where I belong, I choose to be strong, and I choose to prove everyone who said, “You won’t succeed” WRONG.

The other day I got stuck in this moment of thought. A short moment where I truly observed where I was standing, where I was breathing, what I was looking at. A room full of youth and walls filled with art work, and where I found myself standing, where I am today, I can truly tell myself…. I AM PROUD, I AM VICTORIOUS, I AM STRONG.

Mateo Anderson is a young adult whose focus is on supporting and advocating for youth and families of mental health. He is currently working in the peer support field. 

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1 thought on “Rise UP

  1. Amazing young man you are Mateo, I am so lucky to have met you and have the greatest pleasure to work with you and have you as a role model to my child. Thank you for being you!!

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