The House That Built Me

Below is an essay written by a Greenbrier graduate for one of her college classes. She briefly tells her story about how her perspective changed and how the relationships at Greenbrier affected her and continue to influence her. It is the deepest compliment to the great work we do when a graduate can look back in retrospect and still feel the appreciation and connection fostered as a student. Thanks T. M. for being part of our family!

I could just tell by driving to this so called “boarding school” that it was going to be the worst experience of my life! I mean its in the middle of nowhere West Virginia, the name West Virginia speaks for its self. Why did I have to go? Why can’t I just go back to Ohio? I don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of people I don’t know, in the middle of nowhere!

Those were the thoughts that were running through my head as my mom and I were driving to Greenbrier Academy for Girls on July 24th 2009. I had already decided that I hated boarding school and I hated my parents for sending me away! How could they do this to me? Everyone else was out at parties and football games and here I was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains and Walmart! Now you must be thinking why is she telling me this? Who cares?

Well to help you understand better let me start from the beginning…

I was never the girl that fit in. My parents and teachers knew that from the very start! I had a mind of my own and somehow I had this messed up idea that life was all about me all the time. I was living my life as a lie. I was in such a hurry to grow up that I forgot about what is really important in life. I was lost and I hated who I had become. I had hit rock bottom and no one knew what to do. My parents had to make a decision and fast! They could either help me or let me continue on the path that lead to a dead end. They chose to help me. I hated their choice for a long time, but when I look back now I realize that the hard choice of sending their only daughter away was what was best for me. When I look back at the lies that were running through my head that July 24th, I realize how absolutely ridiculous I sounded. I had the mindset that Greenbrier Academy was not my home. It was ugly and stupid, but the truth is I have never seen or felt a more beautiful place in my whole life. Sure West Virginia wasn’t where I was born, but it was where my true journey began. Greenbrier Academy is located on a big hill Pence Springs, West Virginia. The mountains make it great for morning hikes and cool temperatures. I have found that Greenbrier is not only known for its beauty but it is also known for its ability to provide a place that allows young women like myself to be happy and healthy again. The relationships that form at Greenbrier last a lifetime. When you walk in you are already apart of the community and everyone looks to each other as sisters. You love, protect, and support each other no matter what! Greenbrier Academy is a place where at first you dread waking up in the morning but then you quickly look forward to waking up to girls running down the hall rapping Lil Wayne at 6AM. It’s the place where you quickly jump out of bed and race down stairs to be the first to get those pumpkin pancakes that Peggy cooks once in a blue moon. It’s a place where you make your journey to the Yurt every morning to African Drum and come together as a community and wake up and start the day. When I stepped in those big double doors I may have hated it, but when I left my heart had a big hole because I left that piece of my heart behind. Of course I missed my parents and my home but I know in my heart that my true home is in nowhere Pence Springs, West Virginia. I know that no matter what time it is my sisters and mentors have my back. I know that even if I am miles away I am still there in spirit.

I graduated from Greenbrier Academy for Girls on December 21st 2010. It was the happiest and saddest day of my life. But what came out of it was truly amazing! I am happy again and I care about others and not just myself. I have gained the tools that I need to last me a lifetime. Yes, I still have bad days and good but I realize that I am human and I am not perfect. I love who I am finally. Greenbrier Academy isn’t just the boarding school where my parents sent me…it’s the house that built me!

T.M.