At the start of the 2019 school year, I set out on a mission. I was going to get back into a four-year university and start my life again. My first year of college in 2018 was full of bad relationships, depression and several address changes. My spring semester for 2018 resulted in F’s and a trip to the hospital. To say the least my college experience, like that of other foster youths, was off to a rocky start. So, my last two semesters at community college were focused on getting my grade point average up, working hard in therapy to prepare for the transition of moving three hours from my comfort zone and saving up money.
In the fall semester of this year I was rejected by Missouri State University, but the spring semester I got in! I was so excited. Then plan was to major in political science and minor in public law with the dream of becoming a child advocacy lawyer. I packed up my whole life, left my apartment that I had just recently moved in to, and started on my journey to college. I got sick within the first two weeks, and depression had set in. But by midterms, things were starting to shake into place. I had a job, I had my dorm, I was making friends.
When I first heard about the coronavirus, I thought it was some far-off thing that couldn’t touch me, but I have been shown how the world can beat you down unexpectedly. I can confidently say that nobody was ready for this curveball from mother earth. When the coronavirus hit Missouri, I heard talk amongst the students about the dorms getting shut down. Then the realization hit that I was going to have to impose myself into someone else’s life, again. Eat someone else’s food. Live in someone else’s world. I’m 21 years old now; not exactly an adult yet but getting close to figuring out how to live independently. I was supposed to be drinking with my friends at bars, and finally living my life as college kid. I had worked so hard at therapy to get to this healthy point, and I was just knocked down 10 pegs. Two and half months ago I loaded my car full of carefully packed boxes, just to haphazardly throw my belongings into trash bags. I hurried down to the dorm after they started the stay in place order because honestly, I was terrified I wasn’t going to be able to get my belongings, and that’s been my biggest fear my entire time I was in foster care.
I brought everything with me to an old friend’s house in the suburbs. With my dad’s ashes and what little mementos I have from my childhood in tow. The idea that all those things were going to be lost (even though that was incredibly unlikely) caused the first panic attack I have had in a long time. You see I spent most of my time in care with all my stuff packed up and ready to go, and I don’t know when I’ll be ready to completely unpack again.
Immediately after I got back to St. Louis, I had to suddenly shift to the new life of online school. A select few of my professors were understanding with the coronavirus whereas others expected more of a commitment from us students. The school was disconcerting with its response. Every day a new lengthy email popped into my inbox. One of the biggest obstacles I have encountered is that I aged out of care right before all of this happened. I am no longer receiving any financial help or mentorship from Children’s Division. My caseworker went on maternity leave right before I exited care, and her replacement quit shortly after. I have other resources in place, but the government kind of just left me out to dry.
Everyone I have reached out to and expressed my instability in life has had one of two reactions. One: They try and help. Two: They tell me about other people who have it worse. What I am really looking for is someone to listen. While my needs seem to be ever-changing, one that seems to be constant is my search for an empty hook to hang my hat on.
Faith Sharp is a 21-year-old college sophomore at Missouri State University. She is currently majoring in political science with hopes of pursuing a law degree in the future. At sixteen she entered the foster care system and her life was forever changed. Last year after attending the National Foster Youth Institute Congressional Shadow Day her passion for advocating for those in foster care was ignited. She had the opportunity this November to speak at the Angels Arms Gala, a St. Louis nonprofit, and has continued to work with the organization. She hopes to continue her foster care advocacy journey and cannot wait to see where it takes her.