My name is Leonardo Galarza, but everyone calls me Leo. I was born and raised in a small town called Douglas, Georgia. I was born in October 2001. I am majoring in sports communications, and I might double major in marketing. I’m currently on the men’s tennis team for Piedmont College.
I grew up in a divorced household from a very young age. My parents both became remarried, and I happened to become the oldest child out of seven kids as years go by. While being the oldest does not seem to be all that bad, but in my life, it was a little different. You had to be the role model for your siblings, and you have to prove yourself to your parents. We have to make sure no mistakes are made because one slip up could cause an issue with not only your siblings but also your parents. It was rough growing up in a divorced household because you always seemed to be put in the middle of every situation. I lived with my mother and my two brothers until I was 12 years old. I was kicked out of my mother’s house because I saw things differently from her, and I moved in with my father, stepmother, and other siblings. This all turned out for the better in my life especially for what was yet to come.
If you know who I am, then you know that I always smile. It may be hard to believe based on my happiness that there was nothing wrong. I grew up being bullied because I was different from others. I was confused and lost throughout middle school and even high school. I did have friends that I was close with, but my issues did not seem to be important to them in my eyes. It felt like I was alone because it felt like my parents or friends did not completely understand how I felt.
When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to move away from home after I graduated. I did not want to go to a college that was near my hometown because I wanted to explore new things, and I wanted to find myself. Piedmont College gave me the opportunity to be away from home, and an opportunity to play college tennis. I did not expect being away from home away from family and old friends to make such a big impact on my life. The first few months of college I had gone through a rough time in my life. I was unsure that anyone would listen or understand how I felt. There was one person that I knew I felt like I could talk to, but it still scared me to share my feelings with someone else. It was a hard decision, but I knew it was something that would make me feel relieved and happy. I decided to come out to my friends, and even to my parents. It was hard because I was not sure how others would react, but it turned out that my friends still supported me.
I still face some hard times, but that is life for you. There will be times where things will be thrown at us, and we just have to overcome every obstacle. My story is not all there, but it does show what I had to go through to become the person I am today. I still have places where I need to grow, but it all takes time.