By Alex D., Grade 12

I have lived in New Orleans for all my life, and I have also lived in the same house for nearly as long. I have grown quite accustomed to this stable, predictable lifestyle. I had always taken my way of life for granted, certain that there was no feasible reason as to why it could suddenly end because, for so many years, nothing had changed. But something did change my comfortable lifestyle, and Hurricane Katrina was to blame. My easygoing, predictable lifestyle vanished, and in its wake loomed a vast array of uncertainty and fear. But I have found a silver lining in these dark times. In this time of crisis, I have learned how to cope with unforeseen events and why a comfortably stable way of life cannot be assured in the real world. In less than a week, my family had lived in three separate homes. Shortly thereafter, every member of my immediate family had to leave me. The nucleus of my family, which I had always assumed was invulnerable, had suddenly shattered, and I was left alone in a city in which I had never before lived. I had never expected this to happen. I was a seventeen-year-old high school senior living without any member of his immediate family. I was in a state of disbelief, shocked that my life could so suddenly be turned upside down, and I had no idea how I could live on my own. While the prospect of losing that sense of stability has been difficult for me, I have discovered that I am better prepared to face the real world. Without my immediate family, I have become much more self-reliant. When I lived with my parents, I did absolutely no chores and spent most of the afternoon talking with friends. Now I buy my own groceries, cook my own food every night, and perform all of my normal daily chores every night before I can start my homework. I have been thrown headfirst into the ways in which the real world operates. But I have now come to embrace the changes I have experienced and have employed them to the best of my abilities. Now, with my adolescent years coming to a close, I feel that this new feeling of self reliance will become an invaluable asset when I finally enter the university level.