Austin, Texas, Influencer Style Board. Kayla Jessie for UNDISCOVERED.

kayla jessie.

A day like any other.

It was just another typical Monday afternoon as I drove home after school. I was going over the events of the day in my head when I pulled into the driveway and noticed that something was off.

The garage door was open, but there was no car inside. Hmmmm… that’s odd, I thought. Then I noticed that my dog was outside on her leash, so I grabbed my things from the backseat and quickly headed inside.

As I walked through the door I was excited to discover my mom was home, but I was also confused. Shouldn’t she be at work?

She smiled at me reassuringly, then sat down with me on the couch to explain. She had been let go from her job that morning, and they had taken her car, her phone, and her computer.

Tears were flowing down her cheeks as she spoke. Soon I was crying just as hard, not knowing how to comfort her or how to make it better.

I slowly began to realize what this meant. I was a junior in high school at the time, with a brother getting ready to graduate and go off to college. How would my mom be able to support herself and two kids now that she was unemployed?

Photography: Jennifer Helmka
Photography: Patrick McBride
Photography: Kara Zollos

For the next five months I couldn’t stop worrying - would the three of us be okay? Would we have to move? Would I have to go to a new school? Would my brother and I be able to go to college?

I wanted to try and take a little of the pressure off my mom so I got a job at a trampoline park and began working as many hours as I could after school. Christmas was also coming up and my brother and I wanted to make it special for my mom, so we asked her not to do anything for us and instead to let us take care of her.

She ended up getting us a few small gifts anyway, but the best gift we received that year was seeing the joy in her eyes when my brother and I surprised her with everything she wanted and more.

My mom is the hardest working person I’ve ever met, and during the entire time she was unemployed she never gave up. Five months later I finally allowed myself to hope again when she started a new job, and I slowly began to feel that things were going to work out for us.

Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Jennifer Helmka
Photography: Kara Zollos

I believe everything happens for a reason, and watching my mom persevere taught me that if you believe you can achieve something then you will. It also taught me how important family is and to appreciate everything that I have in my life, never taking anything for granted.

It seems as if everyone I know wants the latest iPhone or a new car. But I just want to be the person that puts a smile on someone’s face, or helps them have a better day.

As hard as it was to go through this experience, I found a new strength I never knew I had. Before I might never have had the confidence to pursue a career as a speech pathologist or a special education specialist, but now that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I believe in myself, because I know how much I am really worth.

Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Jennifer Helmka
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Jennifer Helmka
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Patrick McBride
Photography: Matthew Koller
Photography: Renee Bowen
Photography: Renee Bowen
Photography: Renee Bowen
Photography: Renee Bowen
Photography: Matthew Koller
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Jennifer Helmka
Photography: Susan Gietka
Photography: Renee Bowen
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Jen Basford
Photography: Kara Zollos
Photography: Matthew Koller
Photography: Kara Zollos
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