Losing Everything and Gaining so Much More

Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.

I was a freshman at Indiana University when the attacks happened. I remember getting up to go to class and since I didn’t have class until late I heard people talking about what happened but didn’t know exactly what had happened until after I got out of class. I instantly thought the world as we know it was going to change. Even though no one I knew was directly harmed but the attacks I felt scared and concern for the safety of all of us as Americans. I was young and stupid and decided it didn’t matter if I spent all the money I had saved up and I started to drink more often and do more drugs because to me nothing mattered anymore. I had convinced myself that the world was going to end. If something like this happened today I would probably thought about the situation more logically and known that our military would keep us safe. But being 18 and having no one really explain that things were going to be okay I assumed the worse.

After the attacks I eventually stopped going to classes during second semester and failed all of my classes. I didn’t even care to try because I just wanted to be home with my friends and family. I now know that my mom forcing me to stay and not come home until after the semester was over saved me from doing even more harm to myself. My friends from home had all gotten in to drugs pretty bad and when I was there for the weekends I would participate with them. I had to go back to school on Sunday nights an hour away from home and that’s what kept me from doing drugs throughout the week.

One day I just woke up and knew that I had to get better and that life wasn’t over. I was too far into the semester to salvage my grades, but I stopped the drug use and cut back on drinking. I let go of the negative boy that was dragging me along and met a nice guy. I decided to take a year off school to get my life together. The year ended up being 8 years, but I’m finally back at it now and I believe that by waiting so long I am actually doing better because I am determined and motivated to do great. I ended up getting a job at a clothing store and working my way up to store manager. I was making a great paycheck when the economy came crashing down and I lost my job. It was that job that made me some of the best friends I could ask for and I wouldn’t of been there if it wasn’t for 9/11.

Although I can’t completely say that I would have stayed in school and been in a whole other place if the attacks didn’t happen, I can say that the attacks did have an impact on my ways of thinking and I don’t think I would have acted out the way I did if the attacks didn’t happen. I made some stupid decisions and a lot of mistakes, but I was able to reform myself before I got too out of control.

Now I have a life that I’m happy with and working towards a life that I can be proud of. I have an awesome family that supports all my decisions and a group of friends that most wouldn’t be in my life if I would have stayed in school the first time around. I may not have had anyone close to me die in the attacks and I may not have even have anyone super close to me have to fight for my country because of the attacks, but I did lose myself for a while and now I’m back on track to being in the place that I hoped for when graduating high school in 2001.

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