My "Ordinary Hero"

When I was in high school, I remember learning about an organization called Ordinary Hero, which focuses on ordinary people that make efforts to change the lives of needy children in Ethiopia. 

I’ve since continued to keep up with them on social media, and the things that these everyday people do to change lives are absolutely fascinating. The more I look into this campaign, the more I tend to think about who has been an “ordinary hero” in my life, and while several people come to mind, there’s one person in particular that really stands out to me.

She grew up in Smithtown in Long Island, New York, and moved to Virginia when she was 18, the summer before her Freshman year of college. Her name is Julia Filacchione, but since she’s one of my best friends and roommate, I typically refer to her as “Jules.” Jules is a caring, funny, and genuine girl who enjoys reading, writing, and animals. She’s majoring in Psychology and plans to stay a fifth year to get her masters in elementary education. I could sit here and go on for pages rambling about useless trivia, but let’s get to the real reason I’ve chosen to write about this girl.

I’ve gone through some of the most terrible times of my life this past year, but Jules made everything bearable. Without this girl, I’m not sure I’d be able to pull myself out of bed everyday. She has been through so many struggles herself, but her advice got me through all of mine. I was truly inspired by how positively she views everything she’s been through, and I just couldn't help but share her amazing outlooks with the rest of the world.

She Was Forced To Drop Everything and Move 500 Miles Away From Her Childhood Home

In August of 2017, Julia's family packed up their home in Smithtown and drove over 500 miles to live in Moneta, Virginia. According to Jules, "We had to move for financial reasons, mostly. We also just figured it was time to move somewhere with a better quality of life, plus, once I had my heart set on CNU, moving to Virginia would qualify us for in-state tuition." Julia still struggles with the idea of never being able to go back to her childhood home. She grew up there her entire life, and sometimes going home on school breaks to an unfamiliar place can be unsettling. There is, however, a silver lining. The move brought their family even closer together, and now Julia, her parents, and her little brother, Daniel have a bond that's stronger than ever. Julia is grateful to have such a strong support system at home and she does think her new home is beautiful. When I asked Julia if she had any advice for someone going through the same thing, her response was amazingly positive: "Keep an open mind, but don't be afraid to let yourself feel sad about it, because that's normal. Know that you will be happy and there will always be times when you can go back to where you came from." Julia has a new found appreciation for Virginia's natural beauty, and has made some incredible friendships along the way.

She Recovered From an Extremely Intense Heartbreak

At the start of her junior year of high school, Jules began to crush on a boy named Thomas. They became good friends throughout the school year, and in May of 2016, he confessed to having feelings for her. The two dated for a solid four months and the summer she spent with him was ineffable. Unfortunately, when August rolled around, Tom decided that he didn't want to be "tied down" anymore, and he dumped her over text message a week before their senior year. In hind sight, Julia realizes that she was very insecure in the relationship, constantly questioning if she was good enough for him. It's not that Tom didn't treat her right, but she often times forgot to put herself first and would take it personally when he couldn't make time for her. The worst part in all of this was that she and Tom were in the same friend group, and the majority of their friends sided with him, leaving Jules to have to be her own best friend. Julia threw herself into school work and her writing, and worked two jobs and met some new incredible people to keep her going, but ultimately she had to learn the only thing that can truly cure a broken heart is time, and it took nearly a year before she was able to completely cut him off. "I don't regret any of it, because I learned how crucial it is to really love yourself before you can devote yourself to someone else," says Jules, "at the end of the day you should matter the most to yourself." Julia is now much more secure with herself, and has truly learned to be happy with being by herself, trusting that the right person will come at the right time. I recently went through the worst break up of my life, and Julia selflessly took a significant amount of time to talk me through things, help me find coping mechanisms, and even went to my guy and his friends to get answers to the questions I had. For now, she has some incredible girl friends and a wonderful sense humor that keeps her going strong.

She's Been Able To Decipher Who Her True Friends Are

As someone who knows Julia on an extremely personal level, I can tell you first hand that she's not someone who is friends with people for any purpose other than being their friend. She won't invest time into a person just because they could increase her popularity or they buy her things. She surrounds herself with people that truly make her feel good about herself. "I think the first time I really had to cut a close friend out of my life was eighth grade," said Jules, "it sucked because we had been best friends since kindergarten, but suddenly she just wanted to be popular and I didn't. She began putting me on a back burner and acting really fake. It just wasn't worth it anymore." Ultimately, Jules is sad that they didn't stay friends because she really thought they could have had a friendship like you see in the movies, where they really are friends forever, but this girl is currently in a very bad place and doesn't make the best decisions, so Julia knows she made the right choice. Jules is now very selective of who she gets close to, because she wants people in her life that only want the best for her. She knows that even though it may be hard sometimes, if someone is truly toxic for you you'll know and you need to cut them off before they really hurt you. Julia now has friends that she can authentically be herself around, and know how to make her smile. She's very happy with who she has chosen to be close to.

She Has Learned To Truly Love Herself

This has to be Julia's most admirable quality. She is so confident in the way she carries herself, and she knows what she's worth. She recognizes how compassionate she is, and prides herself on the fact that she would never abandon someone in their time of need, because she knows how that feels. She knows she has things she still needs to work on, such as controlling her temper and not letting little things get under her skin and blown out of proportion, but she never stops trying to better herself. A successful life to Julia means having a really strong support from your family. Julia is extremely close with her parents and younger brother; she hopes to get married and start a family of her own one day. She intends to work hard in life and achieve great things, but she wants to be able to say she had support from her loved ones to get her to wherever she goes. Julia believes that "as tough as life gets, don't give up on it. Sometimes you have to go and get the things you want because they won't always come to you." She stands strongly behind her morals and knows, for the most part, what she wants: "There are several forms of love and if you can find them, beginning by finding love for yourself, you can achieve pretty much anything going from there."

I am amazed at the confidence and maturity I see in this girl, and I am very lucky to call her my best friend, as well as proud to call her my hero.