To Dan and Brock Turner

To Dan and Brock Turner:

Here’s the thing: I’m not a parent, so I don’t know what it’s like to want to protect your child, to want to defend them when they are a victim, to want to soften the blow when they do something wrong. I don’t know what it feels like to raise a child and watch them make mistakes, watch them do terrible things. But I do know this: I know that sometimes the best way to protect your child from future harm is by letting them face the consequences of their actions today.

Humans are not perfect, nor we should we pretend to be. We all do terrible things, and we all face punishment for our wrongdoings, or at least we should—it’s how we learn, how we become better humans, how we become more sympathetic to someone else’s plight. As a child, I was punished if I did something wrong, even if the only person hurt by my actions was me. If I hurt someone else by my actions, my punishment was more severe. As it should be. That’s how I learned not to hurt people, to respect them.

We all hurt people; it’s just a part of life. The question is: do we learn from the hurt we cause, or do we continue to allow it to happen? By defending your son in the way that you did, I don’t know if he has learned anything.

But I know who has: future victims—the young people who have watched this case unfold. The young girls have learned that if they’re raped, which approximately 1 in 4 will be, they’re better off not saying anything. They’re better off not pressing charges, because even if there is evidence, their attacker will get off lightly. It’s better to suffer quietly than to be publicly attacked, to have your name dragged through the mud, to have every decision you make questioned because society needs to justify what happened. Girls who are raped can be as brave as they want, but in this culture, bravery is not enough.

The young boys have learned that if they are white, middle-class and above, athletic, smart, and have a “bright future ahead of them,” they can rape someone and have consequences that do not match their actions. But if you’re a black man who’s wrongly accused of rape, good luck, dude. No one’s on your side either.

I hope I’m wrong about both of the above. 

I also know this: your son is not the victim here. You wrote in your letter to the judge about how your son used to be compared to how he is now. As you put it:

As it stands now, Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of Jan 17th and 18th. He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile. His every waking moment is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression. You can see this in his face, the way he walks, his weakened voice, his loss of appetite.

That, dear sir, is what guilt looks like. I’ve seen it before. I’ve felt it before, usually in the twilight period between doing something wrong and confessing, the period where I’m sick-to-my-stomach terrified that I’m going to get caught. The only thing your son is a victim of is what he did to himself. He made a choice that night, and I know you and he blame it on the alcohol, but the alcohol is not the problem. It’s not a drinking problem; it’s a societal problem. Rape can happen alcohol or not, “promiscuous behavior” or not; rape can happen, as it did for me, in a Middle School bathroom; a place where I, arguably, should have been the safest, besides my own home.

A murderer can still get the maximum sentence even if the murderer only took “20 minutes.” A rape is still a rape even if it was only “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Mine took less than 15 minutes, but it took more than 15 minutes for me to heal. There is no timeline on healing. 8 years later, and I’m still not fully healed. But I’m getting there, and your victim will, too.

I read her letter. All 12 heart-breaking, gut-wrenching pages of it. It took me three days, a new record. And I read it again and again, letting the words wash over me as my heart broke, as memories resurfaced. I read it first as a sign of solidarity: “I’ve been through this too, and I want to support you the only way I know how.” I read it again because I was amazed at the strength your victim showed as she faced you in court, publicly sharing her letter. I read it again and again because I see something in her I recognize—the sleepless nights, the wanting to leave your body behind, the strength it takes to get out of bed every day–and even though I’m farther along on this journey than she is, I am amazed at how far she’s come.

I don’t know the kind of person she was before you raped her; I’ve only gotten glimpses by the words she’s shared, but I do know who she is now: she is someone who’s walked through one of the toughest things imaginable and has come out on the other side stronger than she was before. I do know who she’ll be: she’ll be amazing; she’ll be shining bright; she’ll be someone who touches the life of everybody she has come in contact with. She’s touched mine, and I’ve only read her letter.

You had a bright future ahead of you. So does your victim. All of us victims do. You were great at swimming. She is great at something, too. I was great at school, until I was raped, and then just thinking about school made it hard for me to breathe.

And, yet, here we both stand: she and I, on the other side, each telling our own story about the same thing. And I’m angry—not about what happened to me—but that it keeps happening, that we have to keep saying the same things over and over and over again.

As for who you were before you decided to rape her: it doesn’t matter. You chose your fate. You were a swimmer, now you’re a registered sex offender and a convicted rapist. The only thing that matters now is where you go from here. How do you learn from this? Can you own up to the choice you made without blaming it on the alcohol?  Can people learn from you? Can you teach others, not about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity, or about binge drinking and its unfortunate results, but about what rape is and how not to rape others?

John Steinbeck wrote, ““I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”

You’ve already done ill.

I hope you choose to do well. Because that means there’s hope that good can triumph over evil.

And if there’s one thing we could use more of in this world, it’s hope.

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Entropy, Empathy, Engineering, and English*

*alternately titled, “Why I’m an English Engineer”

When I tell people I’m an English major, the first question out of their mouth is more often than not, “So, you want to be a teacher?” I don’t know how to tell them that, no, I don’t want to be a teacher; I want to be a writer, an Engineer of words if you will. That was my plan originally, anyway. I went through all of High School planning on being an Engineer: I loaded up on Science, Math, and Tech classes. I took Physics, Calculus, Electricity and Electronics, trying to achieve a strong base of knowledge for college. It wasn’t until I applied, and was accepted into, the 3-2 engineering program that I realized I did not want to be an Engineer. It seemed Engineering and I would not play well together as we got closer: we’d be like the couple who get married after knowing each other for six months; who, as they find out more about each other, decide they are no longer compatible; and who get a divorce shortly after being married, but still remain friends.

Divorces are costly (so I’m told); college is costly, too. I didn’t want to graduate college in debt, with a degree I don’t like even though jobs are available. Now I’m graduating college in debt, with a degree I love even though fewer jobs are waiting (or so those who don’t know better tell me).

And that’s ok. Science and I may have broken up, but we’re still friends. In fact, in a lot of my writing, I use scientific terms and concepts to help explain what I’m trying to say. One of my favorite ideas to use is entropy.

Three-quarters of the way through my Senior Year of High School, when I told my parents I no longer wanted to be an Engineer, they were surprised. In their minds, I had spent my whole life preparing to be one: I was constantly taking things apart and putting them back together—pens, cameras, computers, pens, pens, pens, anything I could get my hands on; I was always coming up with ideas on ways to improve products consumers buy, especially washers and dryers; for my 6th grade science fair project, I built a radio out of a Quaker Oatmeal can and some wires. My parents saw an Engineer; I did not.

Some people have famous last words:

John Adams, when dying, muttered: “Thomas Jefferson…still survives.” Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

Louisa May Alcott said, “Is it not meningitis?” …. It wasn’t.

Jane Austen, when asked by her sister if she wanted anything, replied: “I want nothing but death.”

Marie Antoinette, after stepping on the foot of her executioner, muttered: “Pardonnez-moi, monsieur. Je ne l’ai pas fait exprès. “(Pardon me, Sir. I did not do it on purpose.)

I don’t know what my last words will be, but I know what my (rumored) first words were. My parents tell me I looked underneath my car seat while playing on the floor, and they swear they heard me say, “How’s it work?” I’ve spent all 20 years of my life answering that question. All of the jobs I’ve wanted to have for as long as I can remember have had something to do with answering that question. Engineers take things apart, figure out the processes of the inner mechanics, and put them back together. Before an engineer, I wanted to be a doctor. Doctors do the same thing, except they use the human body. And now I want to be a writer, an editor, a publisher. It’s taken me a while to find the connection to the Great Question of my life: “How’s it work?” Hint: It has to do with stories.

I wrote my first story when I was in 1st grade. It was a short horror story that got passed around to all the teachers in my elementary school. They all told me I would be a famous writer someday. I didn’t believe them; I still don’t. That first story, which gave me the confidence to write, has been misplaced, and is sitting, waiting to be rediscovered, somewhere among all the notebooks and loose papers in my room. I started my first novel when I was 8. It was going to be the diary of an 8 year old orphan girl who lost her parents to the influenza epidemic. I never finished, nor did I get past the 4th diary entry. Since then, I’ve written numerous poems, journal entries, blog posts, sentences and paragraphs I hope one day to use somewhere. I guess we’ll have to see where life takes me.

What I’m getting at, I think, is how does my life question of “How’s it work?” connect to stories? I write to figure things out, to deal with my struggles in a healthy way. As someone who has been living with depression for as long as I can remember, every day is a battle. I’ve never been very good at communicating my feelings out loud, but on paper, it all seems to click; my life makes sense: the chaos in my mind becomes ordered. At its base, entropy is a theory of chaos and disorder. The only way to produce order out of chaos is by increasing entropy: order becomes chaos by expanding and producing energy. My chaotic mind becomes ordered when I put in the effort and energy to sort it all out.

Our minds are microcosms of the universe; each person’s mind contains a universe, and we’re all struggling to make sense of this chaotic world. A mind, at its core, is just the universe trying to understand itself, and I don’t think we’re doing a good job of understanding, connecting, and feeling. That’s why I read and write: to try to understand what I don’t know. I only have this one life and only get to experience what I live. By reading, though, I can imagine what it’s like to be a child soldier, and maybe, then, I can try to understand what they feel, how their experiences shape the way they view the world. I don’t know what it’s like to be Anne Frank or Maya Angelou, but I can read their words, put myself in their shoes, empathize with and understand their plight. The experiences we face shape our worldview. In order to understand what others feel, we must walk a mile in their shoes.

That’s all life is: entropy and empathy.

Being a reader has helped me understand the world better. I can see the big picture, but I don’t lose sight of each individual pixel. I’m less quick to judge. I understand what I believe, and I know what my neighbor believes, and we don’t always understand each other, nor do we always agree, but arguing won’t get us anywhere. We won’t accomplish change by making our opinions louder (or in this social media age, more visible) than other people’s. Change will happen when we actively listen, and try to understand, what our opponent is saying. We listen with our ears, but we hear with our hearts.

We all want to be heard. That’s why I’m a writer. I want to give a voice to those who do not have one, or don’t know how to use it. We all have a story. Every culture since the dawn of time has told stories. Stories are the best way I can think of to connect to other people. So tell me your story, because hardly any issue in this world is black or white, and I know where I stand and why I stand there, and if you don’t stand with me, I want to know why. This world is chaos and I want to empathize.

I’m 20 years old, and I don’t know much, comparatively in the grand scheme of things. But I do know we don’t have all the answers, none of us do. We’re all people doing our best to make order out of chaos. So, “How does it work?” I have no idea, but as an English major, I know how to dissect a text, find the main idea, put it back together in my own words, and learn something from what I’ve read. I know how to take what I’m feeling and put it into words so others can understand what I’m feeling, too. I want to understand where you come from also. Because this world is entropy and empathy, and I don’t know how it works.

I only get one life, and I’m trying not to screw it up. I want to leave the world more beautiful than it was when I arrived. And I’m doing my best, one story at a time, but it’s a big world, and compared to the universe, we’re all rather small. But we all contain universes inside of us. We all can make order out of chaos and empathize.

“How’s it work?”

I imagine it works best together.

The Effect of Rape in Novels: As told by an English Major Rape Victim

I got an email from one of my professors today asking me how I was dealing with the past two class discussions.

You see, in my Novel class, we have just finished discussing the novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. In this novel (SPOILER ALERT), the main character, Tess, gets drugged and raped by a man named Alec; as a result, she becomes pregnant (the baby dies after a few months). A few months after her baby dies, Tess decides to start a new life: she goes to a dairy farm where she falls in love and eventually marries. When she tells her husband what happens to her, he throws it in her face, implies she’s impure, and that she was asking for it. Tess and Angel, her husband, then separate. Some time passes, and Tess runs into Alec (you know the guy who raped her), and she decides to become his mistress.

You know, because we accept the love we think we deserve. Anyway, after more time passes, Angel returns. Tess then kills Alec, which in turn causes Tess to be hanged.

Needless to say, this book upset me. Granted, I know it was written in the late 19th century, a time when women had very few rights and had even less protection against such acts. But that didn’t stop the novel from hurting me any less.

Tess tries to be honest and ends up getting hurt. Tess is raped, and society dpesn’t try to help her. She is raped; it is her fault; and she has to deal with the consequences all on her own.

And it’s upsetting, because her mother never tells her of the dangers in the world: “How could I be expected to know? I was a child when I left this house four months ago. Why didn’t you tell me there was danger in men-folk? Why didn’t you warn me?”

As an English Major, this is not the first time I’ve had to discuss books about rape. Last semester, I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak, which is also a book about sexual assualt. This book hit a little closer to home for me (as evidenced by the following blog post I wrote back in December):

“IT happened. There is no avoiding it, no forgetting. No running away, or flying, or burying, or hiding.”

“I have survived. I am here. Confused, screwed up, but here. So, how can I find my way? Is there a chain saw of the soul, an ax I can take to my memories or fears?” – Speak, by Laurie Halse Andserson

In my Adolescent Lit class on Tuesday, we discussed the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. At the beginning of the Semester, my Professor introduced the book by saying, “It’s a book about Sexual Assault.”

And immediately, right there, my mind stopped. I thought to myself, “Wait, what?” So, after class I went up to my Professor and said, ” Prof Q, I don’t know if I can read this book.” And I told her my story, just like I’ve told it so many times before. And she understood, and she told me I didn’t have to come to class the day we discussed Speak.

I didn’t have to go to class.

Half a semester later, my mind was telling me “Don’t go to class,” but my feet weren’t listening. So, I showed up to class, and was immediately told to write a 10 minute response to the following question, “How accurate is Melinda’s (the main character) portrayal of High School in this book? Use examples from your own life or from somebody else’s.”

I am Melinda. Melinda is me. As I read this book, I was in tears from laughing at Melinda’s scathing wit and biting sarcasm. As I read this book, I was in tears from crying because of the experience we share. High School is exactly as it was portrayed in this book, at least for me. I remember thinking these things. I remember doing what she did. I remember doing it all. This is the most believable book I’ve read thus far to date.

As we discussed the book in class, I felt awkward, compressed, as though there were 4000 pounds of weight on my chest. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest, unless of course the pressure surrounding my lungs didn’t kill me first. I sat there in silence, doodling in my notebook, checking my phone, analyzing Beauty and the Beast in my head, and doing pretty much anything that distracted me from the conversation at hand.

I didn’t say anything until Prof Q asked the last question, “How did you like the ending?”

I immediately got angry. I hated the ending.

(SPOILER ALERT: The book ends with Melinda confronting her assaulter in her hide-away closet at school. She threatens him with a shard of glass to his neck.

And then some other stuff goes down, but those details aren’t important).

I spoke up, “I hated the ending. It makes for a better story, but it doesn’t actually happen that way. I don’t know, I mean, I do know. But, ya.”

As much as Melinda and I have in common, our stories are just as different. We were both Sexually Assaulted at the end of 8th grade. But it took me two years to admit anything was wrong.

Melinda had one IT. I had 5 ITs, which means I had THEM.

THEM.

And while IT happened at a party for Melinda, THEM happened in a school bathroom for me.

I didn’t have a place to run and hide in school. I didn’t have a place I belonged. I haven’t told anyone their names even though I saw their faces everyday until they either dropped out, moved away, or until we graduated together.

But, like Melinda I know the fear of THEM. I know the not wanting to get out of bed. I know the wanting to tell someone but not knowing how. I know the self-hatred and the self-blaming. I know the grimacing when I hear their names or their voices. I know the thought “what if I said ‘no’ one more time?” I know it all.

I struggled with self-injury for years before I stopped. I struggled with Anorexia all the way through High School and into college. And I’m lucky if I don’t have a mental breakdown anytime I run into someone who even remotely looks like one of THEM.

So, no. I don’t think my story will ever end like Melinda’s. And that’s ok. Because they took a lot from me, and I’ve spent so much time and energy trying to reclaim it as my own.

And it’s taken me a long time to get where I am today, and it’s been a lot of baby steps along the way. I’ve stopped cutting. I’ve started eating. I’ve started believing myself to be beautiful. I’ve stopped wanting to jump every time I’m up high.

Yesterday, I saw a picture of one of THEM on Facebook because of a mutual friend, and I didn’t slam my laptop shut, want to throw up, or take 5 showers. So, ya. That happened, and it was big.

And 5.5 years later, I’ve gotten to the point where I can finally identify THEM by name (but I won’t list them here, because this is the internet, and this is not the place for naming names). And one day, I may even say “Hi” to them if I see them in Walmart, that is if I don’t go cry in the bathroom first.

No, but really though. One day I will say Hi, because I want them to know they don’t have a hold of me anymore. I’ve reclaimed what was mine. And yes, I still have flashbacks from time to time, but I’ve learned that when I speak, people will listen. They told me I would never amount to anything in my life. Clearly, I’ve proved them wrong.

Books like these hurt to read, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they are not worthy of being read, because I do.

These books help educate society on a topic that is still somewhat taboo.

I’m open and honest with what’s happened to me, because I don’t want my past to be used against me. I’m open and honest with my story because I was told that getting raped was my fault (which it totally wasn’t, by the way).

Unlike Tess, I have a great support system, and I hope other rape victims do, too.

Unlike Tess, women nowadays are told from a young age are taught how to avoid getting raped: don’t walk along at night; don’t put yourself in situations when you could potentially get raped, etc.

I think society is doing better when it comes to rape, but I still think we can do better. We can start teaching our boys how not to rape; we can stop blaming the victims: stop asking what clothes they were wearing, how much skin was showing.

Books like Tess and Speak help illustrate the devestating effects of rape without having to experience it firsthand. And I value that: you shouldn’t have to experience something in order to become aware of the consequences.

Books like Tess and Speak remind me that I cannot change my past, but I can accept it, learn from it, and grow from it.

But why would I want to change the past, anyway? It’s made me who I am. It’s made me stronger.

And like Tess and Melinda, I’ve faced my demons: Tess murders hers. Melinda tells hers off. I forgave mine.

So, yes. I am ok with talking about books like these, because these topics are a real part of society, and sometimes, books have taught me the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned: hope exists. You are not alone.

Why (My) College is Important

Today, my college broke ground for the new addition to the Science and Nursing building. This is exciting, not because I’m a science or nursing major, but because this new facility has the potential to impact many future students’ lives.

And I just want to say how thankful I am for College, especially for one that’s challenged me as much as mine has: physically (because as a commuting English major, my backpack weighs close to 500 tons), emotionally (because teenage girls experience all the emotions), and spiritually (because I once doubted God, but all the questions I have make my faith stronger). You see, when I came into college, I was broken. I barely passed one of the classes I needed to graduate High School. In fact, I barely made it through High School. About half way through my Sophomore year, I tried to kill myself. I started self-harming. I became anorexia. I was severely depressed.

And I was terrified of college. I was terrified of failing. I was terrified of being the nerdy girl who had no idea how to make friends. I was terrified of choosing the wrong major and not being able to find a job. I was terrified of the future. Basically, I was terrified about everything.

With one year left of College, I’m still terrified about what the future holds, but I know the college I chose has prepared me for everything that will come my way. It’s funny because the one college I vowed I would never attend became the only place I applied, and that’s the way God seems to work in my life.

I decide one thing, and God’s like, “Lol. Nope. Try again.”

I’m glad He does, because it makes me depend on Him more. He keeps my pride in check.

He called me to this campus for a reason, and I’m glad He did, because it’s changed my life.

The faculty here are some of the most caring and the most encouraging people in my life. You need some advice? No problem. You need to talk about some problems you’re having? Sit down. Have a seat. You want to get into some big theological debate? Bring it on.

I remember one time when I knew a certain book on a reading list for one of my Lit classes was going to be difficult to read and discuss. One day, when we were discusssing the rest of the Semester, I made an off-hand comment about it. When my Professor inquired, I told her my story. She immediately made accomodations, and it was wonderful and beautiful.

There are people on this campus who will challenge everything you once thought to be true. Being open-minded about what other people know is the best way to understand the world differently.

The more I talk to people on this campus, the more my faith grows. I don’t know of anyother school where having a mental breakdown in the library will lead to a bunch of students you don’t know to pray for you.

This campus is so full of love, which is why the squirrels here aren’t afraid if anything: perfect love casts out fear.

Because, yes, this campus is all about higher learning. But higher learning doesn’t just include education. It’s about being part of a community. It’s about forming relationships, personally and spiritually, that will continue to bless your life even after you leave. It’s about instilling confidence in each person, because everybody has value. It’s about learning how everybody is connected–everybody has the power to change the world.

This past summer, I went on a Missions Trip to Guatemala with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. (Shoutout to Roberts Enactus!) And this trip changed my life.

My college has changed my life, because it taught me that change starts with one person.

Sometimes I think I’m in the wrong major, because ‘English is just not practical.’ But if there’s one thing my study of literature has taught me, it’s that words are more powerful than you know.

I will change the world with my words one day. And Roberts has given me the confidence to do it.

 

 

See also: Unsolicited Advice to Incoming Freshman and Returning Students

Normal Day: I attempted suicide 4 years ago

Today’s a normal day: I’m sitting in the library, at my normal table, people watching because that’s how I draw my inspiration, and it may seem counter intuitive, but sometimes watching people and getting caught up in the world I imagine for them is the only way I can get my homework done.

Today’s a normal day. Except, it’s not.

4 years ago, almost to the day, I tried to kill myself. I can remember the time and the place. I can remember it all. And now, I’m sitting in my Campus library, in my normal spot, wondering how on earth I made it this far.

How did I get here?

What am I doing here?

And sometimes I find myself wondering if people make up stories about me like I do them. Do they know who I am? Do they know what I’ve been through? If they do, are they judging me for it?

You see, yesterday, I posted this picture of one of my Facebook statuses on Twitter:

Which is kind of a big deal, because my Facebook friends are people I know, and only people I know can see it. On Twitter, however, that is not the case. It got retweeted by one of my friends, and people who I don’t know favorited it.

I think it’s a good thing, because maybe what I’ve been through can help them even if I haven’t met them?

But are they judging me? Because they don’t know me, and it’s easy to form judgments about people you don’t know.

Because yes, I’ve been sexually assaulted, which has led to me living with depression, attempting suicide, and battling anorexia. And it would be easy for people to judge me.

But what I’ve been through doesn’t define me.

I am so much more than my past.

I’m a Christian whose faith in God has been strengthened by what I’ve been through.

I’m a Survivor who has used what I’ve been through to help others. When I went to Guatemala, I was able to lead a young teenage girl to Christ because I was brave enough to share my story.

I’m a writer and a poet who is writing a book, because I believe in the power of words.

Today is a normal day: I’m sitting at my normal table in the library, studying grammar with my friends, people watching, and making up stories about their lives.

Today is a normal day. 4 years ago, I tried to kill myself. I’ve been waiting for my life to begin, and it’s already begun.

I was living my life when I went to Guatemala, climbed up to the highest floor of a mall parking garage, looked down, and didn’t want to jump.

I was living my life when I wanted to jump to end my life.

I was living my life when I tried to hide my past.

I live my life every day despite how numb I sometimes feel inside, and despite my heart being ripped out of my body through my throat whenever someone says, “You have no reason to be depressed.”

This pain I feel is real, and despite choosing to live after deciding to die, it’s present in my life right now.

So, I’m living my life every day, even though depression sometimes makes my life kind of gray.

Each day is a new shade of gray. 50 shades of gray: depression edition.

Today is a normal day even though big things have happened in my life recently. I’ve found healing and hope and love. The scar on my wrist reminds me of where I’ve been.

Every day, depression threatens to take over my life, because depression doesn’t care that I’m a white teenage girl who lives with her parents, who can afford to go to college. I guess that makes me average.

I just want to be normal. That’s why today is a normal day, despite what happened 4 years ago.

 

Things I Learned In School

While I was learning a^2 + b^2 = c^2,  binomial expansion, and Implicit Differentiation, I was not learning that life is not a math equation. You can’t plug in different variables, different circumstances, and get one definitive outcome, one definitive life. My life is different from your life is different from his life. My experiences define who I am as do yours. There are only two experiences every person has: birth and death; how we get there, and what we do in between is completely dependent on the individual. You can graph where a person’s been, but you can’t graph where they’re going. You can graph the past, but you can’t graph the future, because life isn’t a line or a parabola, or the sum of an infinite series, or etc, etc, and there are too many “what ifs” to get a clear picture anyway, even if it was or were (for being an English major, there are a lot of Grammar rules that continue to confuse me).

But, that was a tangent.

Hey, speaking of tangents, did you know tangents only touch a circle once? And circles don’t have points, and I guess neither did that fact, because school teaches you facts, but not how to apply them. It teaches you to think, but not how to reason. So, yes, I’m really good at spitting back whos, whats, wheres, whens, and whys, but not the “so what?”s. I’m still trying to figure out how the past has influenced my life and how I can influence the future. And as to where my story fits in the grand scheme of things, I’m still trying to figure that one out, too. But as I’m beginning to experience more things, that picture’s becoming clearer. That’s an equation I hope to solve one day.

Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. But, I bet you knew that already, didn’t you?

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, which I learned in Math, but I understand it the best when I’m trying to find the quickest route to avoid someone or the shortest walk to class in the cold of winter or the pouring rain.

Weight equals mass times gravity, and you learn this in physics, but you understand it when the bathroom floor pulls you against its cold, flat surface after you’ve emptied last night’s calories.

All matter has mass. But you don’t learn it school what it means to matter. You have to learn that on your own, and I’ve discovered that you matter because of what matters to you. Your level of mattering is directly equivalent to how much what you care about matters to you. Your value is not inversely proportional to your weight; it’s directly proportional to the amount you care.

You learn competition, because this whole system of class rank separates the “good at memorizing,” from “the not so good.” But how well you do in school has no bearing on how successful you will be when it comes to the ‘real world.’

You learn about Supply and Demand and Opportunity Cost, but you won’t really understand until you have to live paycheck to paycheck, or until your Dad has to work three jobs to make ends meet and he has to decide between earning money and spending time with the family.

You learn about interest rate and the idea of loans, but you’ll wish you paid attention when it comes time to pay back student loans.

You learn about Total Surface Area and Volume, which becomes helpful when you have to fit a week’s worth of dirty dishes into a dishwasher.

You learn how to compare yourself to others, but not how to love yourself despite others.

Life has taught me many things, and learning how to love myself is one of the hardest.

I’ve learned life is hard, some days you will hate yourself, but there’s always hope.

Why doesn’t school teach you that?