Good evening Bridges! My name is Amanda and I am part of the first, Getting Ahead graduating class of 2016. I am an only child and come from divorced middle class working parents. I have my high school diploma and my Associated Arts degree
Many people know me as the loud sarcastic, confident woman you see standing here today. But, don’t let my appearance fool you. I have not always lived this awesome version of myself. Three and a half years ago, right before starting Bridges, I was a mess. I suffered from manic depression and extreme anxiety. I was diagnosed as agoraphobic, which is an irrational fear of people and being in public. I was newly single, unemployed and lacked any self-esteem or confidence. I was on section eight housing and FIP and had three kids completely depending on me to “get it together”
Looking back, I can almost pin point the moment my life started its downward spiral. Five years prior to starting Bridges, I had just lost my long time job, my apartment, and suffered a miscarriage. Those things along with many other’s led to a point of hopelessness lasting several years. That is when I heard about Bridges!
I won’t lie, the initial draw was the lucrative gift card at the end of each class. Who would have known that this class and this group of people would be the stepping-stone I needed to become myself again. I’ll tell you the good Lord knew! During my first few weeks in Bridges, I struggled to pay bills, find childcare, and find a job…partly due to my background but mostly my agoraphobia. Eventually I got a break and was offered the perfect job for me at that time. A position at PAW Animal Shelter taking care of cats and dogs…minimal human interaction. I would never have been able to get and keep that job without the support and knowledge I gained from my getting ahead class. Although it has been three years, I still remember what I learned in that class. The most important thing I took away from “Getting Ahead” was the concept of concrete vs abstract thinking. For those of you that do not know what that means:
Concrete is thinking in the here and now. It is physical problems and objects. It is the crisis you are facing today. Abstract thinking is the ability to think about things that are not actually present. You look at the broader significance of ideas and information rather than concrete details. Being able to utilize abstract thinking allows you to be able to plan.
I have become a huge planner and am always looking toward the future. I know my resources and how and when to utilize them. All of these things have gotten me to where I am today. I have zero mental health issues. I have a wonderful job with the school district working in special education as well as working the pieces after school program. I have me debt managed and in the process of buying my first house…set to close at the end of the month. However, most importantly I like myself. I know me and I trust me. I’m sure that wouldn’t of happened without this program and the support and encouragement from my fellow graduates and most importantly Miss Mona.
If I could give this newest group of graduates any advice, it would be to make those connections. Be confident and brave…You got this! Make friends with people that have qualities that you do not yet possess, and l warn them! Never stop becoming the person you want to be, and when life seems too hard to handle on your own, reach out to others and give it up to the Lord! You are capable, you are important and you are loved! I am going to close with my favorite saying. We may not have it all together but together we have it all.