During the pandemic, I have realized who the real people in my life have been; I both made and ended relationships with many. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I realize that the year 2020 has been a year of reflection and a year of realization. This has been a tough year for me family wise and also relationship wise. I truly am grateful for this year because it allowed me to reflect on who I am and how much I am worth in many individuals' eyes. I realized that I was always putting others before myself at all times, no matter what, and I realized that many people wouldn’t do the same for me. These relationships have brought me down and had me not acting how I am. I would be in my own corner of a room every single day looking at the same plain walls for days, and I wouldn’t speak to anyone inside or out of my house.
I am now a person that knows that I can help others when they need help, but I need to put myself before others at all times because I am not going to be taken advantage of anymore. I have been through hell and back these past couple of months, and as weird as it is to say, I am so thankful for everything that happened to me and the way it all happened. If everything didn't happen the way it did and as soon as it did I still would have been in these relationships and with toxic and negative people in my life bringing me down. I have so many wonderful, loyal, and truly supportive people in my life now, and I’m grateful for that.
— Brenda Belmiro, 17
Newark, New Jersey