What’s in a Book?

In a recent post, I wrote about wanting to impact the world at least half as much as it has impacted me (for that post, click here). I think we all want to impact the world in our own way. Some of us want to be President of the United States. Some of us want to find the cure for cancer. Some of us want to decrease World Suck (if you understand that reference, you are AWESOME! DFTBA!).

I have many dreams. I want to fall in love, get married, travel the world, have children. You know, normal things. But I also want to write a book. Or rather, I want to finish my book. I’ve started this book so many times in my mind, but I never moved past the ‘thinking about it’ point. This time is different. This time I know how the book is going to start and finish, which let’s be honest, is half the battle. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing this blog, it’s beginnings and endings are the hardest, and are almost the most important: it’s who you were and who you became. The middle is just the journey from Point A to Point B: why you are who you are.

So why do I want to write a book?

I want to write a book because I believe in the power of words, but I also believe that I’ll never be very good at saying what’s on my mind. Because when I speak “my thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations” (thank you, John Green for that fabulous quote), but when I write everything makes sense. I believe we can all learn things from each other, because everyone on earth knows something you don’t. And I believe the best way to learn is by sharing stories.

What makes me qualified to write a book?

Absolutely nothing. I don’t know the first thing about writing a book, because apparently reading more books than you can count each summer does not automatically guarantee your ability to write a book.

So, why am I trying?

I’m trying because of my experiences. I’m trying because writing has helped me in my struggles. I’m trying because I believe what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned can help others. I believe I’ve been given this gift of words for a reason. I’ve found my voice. I can be the voice for others who have not found theirs.

Am I arrogant to believe that my words are important enough to be read?

I don’t know. Maybe. All I know is people read what I write. All I know is I’m scared my words aren’t important enough to be read. I’m scared maybe I’m making a big mistake, maybe what I’ve been through in my life is totally unrelatable and totally not something that should be written about.

Basically, there are a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t write a book and a thousand reasons why I should. And when push comes to shove, I need to write this book, not because I need to be validated, but because I need to be liberated. I have this intense desire to help others, and if writing about my experiences can help others, then I will gladly relive every moment, every painful memory.

I believe in the healing power of words. I believe words are beautiful, and I want to leave this world more beautiful than it was when I arrived.

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Questions You Can’t Ask Me

WAIT! Stop reading right now. If you haven’t read my post, “Things You Don’t Get to Say to Someone with Mental Illness,” read it before proceeding by clicking here.

Have you finished reading it?

Yes? OK, you may continue.

I’ve always been curious about the world, and I’ve always asked questions. In fact, according to my parents, my first words were “How’s it work?” So, it’s not hard to understand why I believe that asking well-­thought out, somewhat unusual questions is one of the best ways to get to know someone.

However, if you plan on getting to know me anytime in the near future, here are a few questions you cannot ask me.

1)      What is your favorite video game?

Because I want to be able to say something cool like Halo or something. But I’ve only played Halo once with a friend, and I did pretty well. But then I wanted to play by myself, and it was going well until I got to this part where very suspenseful music was being played. I just couldn’t handle it, so I freaked out and quite playing.

 

But I like PacMan. Pacman’s good.

 

2)      You’re an English Major? Are you going to teach? What are you going to do with it?

Yes, I am an English Major, but I am not planning on teaching (at least not right now). I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, because there are so many things to do, and I don’t think I am ready to decide right now what I could possibly be doing for the rest of my life. Because I didn’t think I’d make it this far, and right now the world seems so vast and the future so foreboding. And right now, I’m just trying to figure out how to use what I’ve been through to help others.

 

I’m writing a book.

 

3)      How are you doing? (or similarly, How you doing kid?)

Right now, I’m not doing much of anything except trying to survive. Some days I use up all my energy getting out of bed in the morning because the ground looks pretty shaky, and sometimes it takes everything to believe that I will be ok. Those are the days when I know I won’t be able to get along with people, so I hide away in my room. But really, this is pretty normal for people like me. So a better question to ask me would be…

 

4)      How’s it going?

It’s going. Because life moves quickly but also so slowly, and I move right along with it. Although sometimes it seems as though I’m moving in slow motion, because I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going, and I’m just trying to figure it out. So I’m going with the flow and also against the flow, because if society is going to tell me that I’m not beautiful, I’m going to prove them wrong, because my battle proves otherwise.

 

5)      Can I see your scars?

No, you cannot. Over the years, I have learned to wear my scars boldly, because they are a reminder of where I’ve been. And they serve as hope for the future. And I’ve had too many people make fun of me because of my scars. Self-harm is not a joke. It is not funny, and it is not something you should make fun of to get a laugh out of people. It’s a serious problem. It’s not ok to diminish the severity of this issue by taking pictures of fake blood in the shape of a heart or whatever because you think it’s beautiful. Because let me tell you, every time I cut into my skin I felt a little bit less beautiful, and I hated myself a little more, and I’ve spent the last three years trying to undo it. IT’S NOT OK. It’s horrible when you get to that point when you feel self-harm is the only way to feel pain. It’s horrible when you become addicted. And I hope I never walk that path again, but every day the struggle is real. It’s not a joke. And it’s not ok to use my scars or anybody else’s as a joke or an example of what not to do. Everybody deals with pain differently. Don’t make anybody hate themselves more than they already do.

 

So no, you cannot see my scars, because while you may think they’re beautiful, I don’t. I do my best to hide them, because all I want is to feel beautiful.

 

6)      How are you feeling?

I don’t know how I’m feeling. I’m feeling happy and sad and sometimes nothing at all. And I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to be cautiously happy and overwhelmingly sad. I’d give anything to not feel this way—my left kidney because I only need one, part of my liver because it’s the only organ that regenerates, my lungs because I feel like I’m drowning, my heart because I doubt anybody could ever love me, and if I still had my appendix, I’d probably give that too.

 

So really, I’m feeling everything and nothing, but most of all I’m feeling terrified. Because life is unpredictable, and I don’t know if I can deal with anymore hurtful suprises, and I’m trying to make sense of this chaos, because out of chaos comes beauty, but when I look in the mirror all I see is ugly.

 

Please don’t ask me these questions, because I don’t have coherent answers. All I know is that I’m trying, and therefore, no one can criticize me.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

…is fear itself. So said Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. So, what is fear? Fear, according to Dictionary.com, is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; that feeling or condition of being afraid. As humans, we are programmed to have fear. It acts as a survival instinct.

So, what do I fear? I fear a variety of things. Some are intense phobias, and others are just mild disdain. My intense phobias vary. Some are common, while others are not. I have an extreme hatred of the following things:

1. Heights:   I can’t even get 5 feet off the ground without my heart beginning to beat rapidly, my palms becoming sweaty, and my head beginning to spin. I can distinctly remember going to Niagara Falls in 8th grade and waiting in line for the Maid of the Mist. In order to get on the Maid of the Mist, you have to cross this bridge above the water. Not only was this bridge too far above the river for my liking, but it was also see-through. As soon as I stepped one foot on the bridge, I froze; my friends had to literally force me across the bridge.

2. Closed Spaces: There’s something about being in a tight space that makes me feel like the walls are moving together, squeezing me in. It reminds me of the scene from Star Wars when the trash compactor walls are moving, and Hans Solo says, “Well, one thing’s for sure, we will all be a lot thinner.” When we went to Washington D.C, my family all wanted to go inside the Washington Monument. Not me. It wasn’t just the height that bothered me, it was the thought of the tight, enclosed stairway that had me hyperventilating.

3. Spiders:  Enough said. Who doesn’t hate spiders? They’re creepy, and yucky, and gross. If I lose one in my room, I sleep downstairs. If there’s one in my shower, I stealthily throw something at it to knock it down, and then drown it.

4. Clowns:  They are one of the creepiest things on the planet. I’ve never had a bad experience with clowns that I recall, but it’s something about not knowing what the person looks like behind all the makeup that freaks me out.

Now for the lesser fears, or the things I disdain.

5. Brooms: As I child, I was terrified of brooms. We have on video, my reaction to seeing a broom in a book. Although I have outgrown this fear, I still prefer not to use brooms, which means I can never be a Janitor!

6. Snakes: They creep me out, especially the big ones at the zoo. Yuck.

As much as those things terrify me and freak me out, I can honestly say that those aren’t what terrify me the most. What terrifies me the most is being judged and not being taken seriously. When I’m around people, I’m afraid that every whisper, every finger point, every laugh is aimed at my direction. I’m afraid that silently people are judging me. And I know it’s a ridiculous thought because I also know that many people don’t notice me. So to think that every person I see is judging me is pure nonsense.

As for the not being taken seriously, that one has some value. I am at this point in my life where I am really struggling with my views on the world, my views on life, religion, God, society. And being that I am struggling, I also have a lot of opinions and thoughts on just about everything, which terrifies me even more. I fear that people don’t take my thoughts seriously, or give my questions much value because I am 17. I haven’t experienced enough of the world to have such questions and opinions. About 2 months ago, I wrote a note on Facebook containing questions that I have had about life and the universe and God and free will and just about anything that you can imagine. I got no feedback. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I still wonder about those questions everyday. I still wonder. And it terrifies me.