College Essay: Divorce Teaches Independence

When my dad flipped over the tables and shattered all of the glass in my house one night in 2016, I knew my house wasn’t safe anymore. He and my mom were fighting again. I packed what I needed to move out and find a new place to sleep the next night.

My mom disappeared for two weeks after my dad had this meltdown. I didn’t know where she was. I tried contacting her countless times, with no luck. She turned off her cell phone and the familiar but frustrating auto message greeted me each time.

“Your call has been forwarded to . . .”

I felt so lost without her but I understood that it was best for her safety for her to leave. My dad was still in the family house but I didn’t think staying there was good idea, and my older brother was living elsewhere.

Alyssa Xiong, Harding Senior High School
Alyssa Xiong, Harding Senior High School

I became homeless. I have a large, extended family, and I bounced from house to house every night for a month because I didn’t want to become a burden on anyone. I often didn’t arrive until 10 p.m. because of tennis practice. I still did my homework, which meant I would not go to bed until 2 a.m., and then I would be up early to go to classes at Harding High School, where I was a sophomore. Life was hard and I was tired!

I settled in with a cousin for a couple of months. My mom finally reconnected with me, and we went out to eat one day. There, she told me something that changed my life completely.

“Your dad and I are filing for a divorce.”

My body froze. I didn’t know how to react.

“It’s okay, don’t cry,” my mom told me. “We’ll talk about it later. Don’t cry.”

I didn’t even realize that I was crying. I stayed quiet and wiped away tears that wouldn’t stop flowing down my face.

When I was finally able to see my mom regularly, she’d moved into an apartment and I split my time with my mom and my cousin. Eventually, my mom and I moved back into the family house after my dad moved to California.

Fortunately, during these tough times I always enjoyed school. My two favorite subjects are chemistry and biology. Because of that I’m interested in becoming a physician’s assistant. I know it will take a long time to achieve that career but I will get there with a lot of hard work and dedication. I’m proving that with my involvement in College Possible, a college readiness program. My coach has helped me prepare for the ACT and to apply to colleges. I’m also doing well in tennis. I play No. 2 doubles and our girls’ team has won the St. Paul Conference four straight years.

I’ve learned a lot in my short life. And I’m not done learning. Being homeless taught me how to become more independent and strong because I was alone and had to provide for myself. I know I will have to do this when I attend college — where my classes and the new environment will test me.

In the end, I want to show my mom my appreciation for her sacrifices. Between my enjoyment of school, my strength and my independence, I will succeed and become the person I want to be.