Hello From the Other Side

Here’s the thing about time: it marches on.

Every day, the earth moves through the cosmic background, ending the day 32 million miles farther than it began. It moves around the sun at a speed of 100,000 km/h, and somehow, you’re still clinging to this planet that is mover faster than you can even comprehend.

Gravity is holding you firm to this earth.

Please remember that when the weight of your past is compressing your chest, and it feels like you can’t breathe: gravity is keeping you’re here.

Trust me when I say that gravity is one of the universal constants. Please don’t test it by jumping.

One day you’ll look in the mirror and see stretch marks zig-zagging across your body, like the cuts you used to inflict on yourself.

Don’t fight them. Right now, you think stretch marks are the worst thing that could ever happen to you: as if saying, I don’t want to be if I’m fat. A million miles later you’ll see them as a sign of recovery because, once upon a time, you took the greatest pride in yourself after someone said, “Oh my gosh; you’re so skinny.” And in that moment, you will realize just how far you have fallen.

Right now, you’re trying to get rid of the skin in places you’d rather forget being touched. You cut yourself open because you can’t remember what it’s like to feel something, anything. You’d rather feel pain than nothing at all. I need you to know that cutting yourself open, leaving your own scars, is not going to cancel out the emotional scars left by your rapists.

Right now, you’re wondering what happens if you let your guard down. What will happen if you stop fighting against the thoughts that threaten your life? You can’t remember the last time you slept because every time you close your eyes, unwanted memories play on repeat in your mind.

There will come a day soon when you are so tired. You just want to sleep. You will let your guard down. What happens next will not be your fault. You will lose control of yourself. You will take some pills, and time will slow down.

This slowing of time will be what saves your life. It will give your true self time to regain control of the self you try so hard to hide. Three little whispered words are enough to snap out of it, allowing your light thoughts to shine brighter than your dark thoughts. You’ll be ok.

And you will.

Hello from the other side.

I’m writing this from the future, more for me than for you. But time itself is a confusing topic, and scientists still don’t understand how it works—if it’s linear or not.

There is this theory called Eternalism, which, in basic terms, is the idea that the past, present, and future occur simultaneously. So maybe, somewhere, this reaches you before you begin to waste away, to lose yourself.

I don’t know what I believe about time, what theory I subscribe to.

But I do know this: it marches on. It waits for no one.

It can also heal you, strengthen you, but only if you let it.

Please let it.

2016 has arrived, a year which you never thought you’d see. But you’ve made it.

Here’s to another year of life.

 

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I am Not a Punchline

Yesterday, I was told a rape joke by an acquaintance who knows my story.

He then got mad when I didn’t find it funny.

“I thought you were over it,” he said.

Firstly, I never said I got over it.

Forgiven, yes.

Trying to move on, yes.

Over it, no.

I don’t know how you get over something like that:

He slammed my locker shut every day. He teased me relentlessly. He asked me out. I said “no.” That’s not the way I wanted to be treated.

To him, a simple ‘no’ was the end of the world. He decided I needed to be punished. He got his friends and they raped me in the school bathroom.

As soon as they finished, they left as quickly as they came. And I was left to pick up the pieces. The shattered pieces of my dignity fit in the palm of my hand. I washed off the traces of their crime. I covered up the developing bruises, and I went on my way.

I told no one.

They told me no one would ever love me, and I was eager to prove them wrong. So when my best friend asked me out too soon after, I eagerly said yes. I needed to prove them wrong, but I tried too soon.

We were too young. I was a mess, and I didn’t know how to help myself. But I kept my secret for over a year.

I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want to be blamed.

I started cutting and starving to erase their memory from my mind. My parents wondered why their showers were always cold.

(I was trying to burn away their touch from my skin)

We’re out of razors already?

(I was trying to carve a new person from my hollowed out soul)

I was a broken-down frame of a burned out house, and I needed to rebuild myself again.

And I needed to do it from the ground up. I needed to figure out who I was as a person; who did I want to be?

We needed to break up; it was a long time coming.

And almost seven years later, I’m standing on the other side of this inferno. Like a phoenix, I’ve risen from the ashes. I’m standing on a mountaintop, surveying the demolished parts of me, which serve as a reminder for who I was.

I’ve forgiven. I’ve rebuilt. I’ve stopped cutting, started eating. And I have pretty much healed.

But I don’t know how I will ever “get over this.”

I’ve stopped being a victim. I’ve started living. I focus on how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned, where I want to go.

Firstly, I don’t know if I will ever get over this.

Secondly, I am not a punchline.

There’s nothing funny about any of this.

It’s a cliché that shouldn’t have to be repeated, and yet, here we are.

We have to teach this old dog new tricks because I’m tired of wearing this old hat.

I can’t let you laugh this off.

There’s no punchline in being a statistic.

I refuse to be the victim, and I will fight you tooth and nail if you try to pin this on me:

Capital S for “Slut.”

My name is not “Bitch.”

I refuse to be somebody’s unwanted leftovers.

Out of the broken-down frames of a burned-out house, I have built myself again.

Like a phoenix, I rise from the ashes.

I am Everest.

I am stronger now than I was before.

But I refuse to be a punchline.

I am not a punchline.

I am Sisyphus

Here’s the thing: I’m having a hard time.

Yes, I’ve beaten things: I’ve beaten anorexia. I said goodbye to self-harm. I survived a suicide attempt. I’ve been told that I’ve impacted so many people’s lives, but this winter’s been long and hard. It’s been cold and snowy since before Thanksgiving, and I should be used to this crazy western NY weather by now, but I’m not.

I’ve been living with Depression for 7 years, and I should be used to it by now, but I’m not. And I don’t know how to make this feeling go away: I feel like I’m drowning. I’m being suffocated by the weight of the world’s worries, and like Sisyphus, I’ve been rolling this stone up this hill for what feels like an eternity; and everytime I get to the top, I fall down again.

My knees are permanently scarred.

Somedays I’m ok, but somedays I don’t think I’ll ever be ok again. I’ve learned that these feelings come in waves. And right now, the sun has thawed the ice-caps, the ocean levels are rising, my levees have broken, and I’m drowning in all these feelings I’m feeling all at once.

People tell me, “Carpe Diem.” But sometimes the onlything I can carpe is getting out of bed, and even that sometimes stabs me in the back, like Brutus to Caesar.

Et tu, Brute?

Trebuchet.

I feel like a trebuchet is lobbing 25 tons of burning coals at my skin, and I’m catching on fire. Because I was taught ‘stop, drop, and roll’ over and over again, I thought catching on fire would be more of a problem. Maybe the concept applies to metaphorical fires, too.

Stop everything you’re doing.

Drop into bed.

Roll away into your happy place.

My happy place is in a far off land that begins, “Once upon a time.” I get lost in words, and every so often, I find myself wandering among the sign posts that point from the beginning to the end, and I’m not sure which way is up.

I believe in the magic of words, and I believe the best time to read poetry is 1:30 in the morning, when the world is silent, and I’m feeling everything at once.

My soul has no clock, which is why I’m writing a poem, instead of doing homework, because it’s 1:30 in the morning there, and I’m feeling everything at once.

I’ve uttered the phrase ‘help me, Jesus,’ so many times, I’m sure the phrase is tattoed on my lips 7×70 times, which is how many times I’m supposed to forgive. And I’ve forgiven more than can be expected, but this pain in my chest won’t go away.

Sometimes this pain in my chest is the only way I know I’m still alive.

A professor tokd me yesterday, “I know you’re having a hard time, but I appreciate your smile. I appreciate the way you put 100% into everything, even on days when your 100% is less than half of normal. I appreciate the way you get out of bed everyday.”

I get out of bed everyday; I show up to life, but sometimes life fails to show up for me. And sometimes the only way I know how to survive is to grab the bull by the horns, and throw myself onto its back, which makes no sense. But, I’d rather be the bull than be the flag the bull’s charging towards.

Sometimes I get tired of throwing myself out of the way of the charging bull, of the oncoming flood. Sometimes I just have to ride the waves for a while.

This is a ride I’m willing to waive, because it doesn’t have a claim on me anymore.

I’ve been living with Depression for 7 years.

Somedays it’s hard to be normal. Somedays the pain in my chest makes it hard to breathe.

Sometimes this pain in my chest is the only way I know I’m still alive.

Un-eligible Princess

If you could use your imagination for a second and imagine me standing in front of you, I’m terrified and shaking and trembling but I’m reading this with a smile on my face. Because I’m terrified of speaking in large groups, but when I’m reading my words from the page, I’m the only one in the room.

Right now, it’s one in the morning, or 7 at night, or pick a time any time. And I’ve written many things already tonight. And the number of words I’ve written in my life is probably greater than the number I’ve spoken. And that’s ok. Because with every beat of my heart, my blood carries my words throughout my body, reaching my brain and my fingers until I itch for a pen.

But there was a time when I would have reached for the razor instead. I would have watched as my blood trickled from my skin and the tears from my eye flood carried the words I didn’t know how to say from this body of mine. Because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, but a part of it leaves when I sit down to write. Because my heart cries tears of pain and joy and desperation, and all this accumulation turns into inspiration late at night.

And I’m well-versed in the art of poetry (and also math, but Calculus 101 and 102 demanded my wrath). But poetry is not a mathematical equation, unless you’re Shakespeare with his sonnets, and his perfect 14 lines of iambic pentameter.

Because

Any

Sentence

Is

Poetry

If

You

Write

Like

This.

And if that’s poetry, I’m not a poet—try my way though. Because my prosetry may include rhyme and meter, because I grew up counting meter for music, so I’ve met her (be)fore. And anything is a metaphor if you try hard enough. I draw poetry from life around me and the pain inside me. Because every so often, I think ‘why me?’

And I believe my words are beautiful. Because they have the power to open minds, change minds, encourage minds, and maybe one day convince someone to be mine. Even dressed to the nines, I don’t feel fine, by which I mean beautiful.  Because what’s beautiful about scars? I mean Scar was the bad guy in Lion King, and I’m the Daughter of the King, so don’t my scars make me the “Next Un-eligible Princess?” And I try to hide mine, because I drew the line and connected the scars on my skin, and one day I picked up the pen instead.

Because writing makes me feel beautiful. And my writing is beauty filled, and people tell me they’re proud of me. And if my writing can help thee, then it shall be. Because I don’t want to hide these red razor lines on my abs and my thighs, so I transfer them to my writing, which is fine by me. My scars say “I have survived,” but these demons won’t go away, which is why writing is here to stay. Because this pain is enough to drive me insane, but my words are enough to keep them at bay.

Because not too long ago, I believed that beauty was directly proportional to weight, which made me hate society. Because when did it become ok to say things to ourselves we are too afraid to say to anyone else? And when did skeletons become goddesses teaching us to not need? Because what does thin mean to you? Sophistication, adoration, adulation, a vaccination against segregation? And if that’s beauty, I’ll stay ugly.

Because I’ve always been too big, too loud, too quiet, too excitable. But that’s ok, because my heart is too big to be contained in jeans too small for a stick. And although some days I hate everything about who, what, and how I am, it’s ok anyway. Because I have enough pain to write novels like Bronte. And they will be beautiful, because slowly and surely, I am learning to love myself. There are parts of me that shine like the stars. Because my eyes are full of wonder, and when I make a blunder: I still walk into the light.

So I can no longer believe that my value is tied into how much I weigh, because whoever said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” clearly never tried Red Velvet anything. Besides, I have better things to worry about. I mean, I have a book to write, and lives to change, and people to hug, and stories to tell. And the last thing I want people to remember me for is my weight. I want to be remembered for doing something great.

But right now, in this moment, I’m 19. I’m here, and I’m so afraid. But my courage is roaring like the sun, because I’ve made it this far, and I know I’ll be ok. So when I get up in the morning, and my legs feel like they might buckle, I’ll have to trust that they are strong enough to keep me from falling. I am strong enough. Besides, if they’re not strong enough in that moment, life goes on. And I can try again tomorrow.

 

Time Line

Word association time: Time line. time passing. Growing. Healing. Rebirth.

May 19, 2013. 5 years later:

I remember you like it was yesterday. I remember the time and the place because for a few moments, the clock stopped, and everything was chaos, upside, backwards. They say wrong place, wrong time. But what they mean is: be watchful of your surroundings, don’t go alone. As if that makes a difference.

Because I had every right to be there. You didn’t. If my body were the most secure apartment building on the Upper East Side, you were the best con man who lied his way into getting the security key and set up temporary residence within my walls.

But for being temporary, you left a permanent mark. You stained the walls yellow with the smoke of lies you exhaled as you destroyed my once-white walls. Because, white is the color of purity, and you made me impure? I guess. And you rewired my brain into thinking yellow walls are permanent, because no one would sell white paint to someone like me.

Unfortunately for you, my body is not an apartment building on the Upper East Side. It is a temple. And I don’t need to repaint my walls white, because I know someone whose red blood painted me gold. And I know yellow + red does not equal gold, but this guy I know defies the laws of physics, because He died and rose again (not like a zombie rises, but for real, for real, He rose).

 

June 16, 2013 3 years later:

Time heals all wounds, yes. But, time fades all scars. Remember those lies you told me? Well, apparently, repeating lies is self-destructive. Lies turn into self-hate turns into release through a razor, which does more self-harm than good.

Did you know the constellations can be mapped out on your skin? I’ve tried. I think I got to Andromeda before I realized I was Andromedone (I’m sorry. I had to. I use humor to mask some of the pain).

My body is a Temple, but I tried to destroy it, because I thought you destroyed me.

I made myself bleed, because I wanted to be my own Savior.

 

Today:

Some nights I lie in bed, and I feel nothing. Some nights I lie in bed, and I feel everything. And I don’t know which is worse.

I used to get ready for bed with the lights off, because I was only beautiful in the dark. Now, I do everything with the lights on (except for sleeping). Because a rose needs light to grow.

I told you, one day I’ll be a rose. You laughed. But you were a thorn in my side. Rose have thorns.

My Gardner wore a crown of thorns on his head so I could grow and blossom.

Guess who’s laughing now? I am.

I’ve learned out of the ashes comes beauty. And while you said I was ugly and burned my soul to the grown, God said I was beautiful and rebuilt me whole.

Because with the passing of time, I’ve healed. Chaos has become order. And no matter how many times I test gravity, I will always find my wings and fly.

Accidental Inheritance

In her kitchen, my Grandmother prepares enough food for a small army, which is more than enough food for our 13-person family. She’s not afraid of food, but so many people are.

Sitting in the dining hall, I watch young women count the calories. They say they don’t deprive themselves, but my instinct tells me better. I’ve learned to find hidden meanings in every movement of the fork pushing the food around their plate, in every held back tear as they take one more bite. I wonder if they eat when no one’s around.

I wonder if this is why the world feels so big: it’s proportional. As girls shrink to fit themselves in the box labeled “perfection” by society, the unoccupied space around them increases exponentially. This world seems increasingly vast.

And it’s not that we are scared of food, because our lineages are intermingled with stories of big, strong women who knew how to eat. As humans, we are genetically-bred to love food, but we’re not bred to love ourselves. This world is focused on obesity and malnutrition, plenty and need, excess and want.

And somewhere in our history women were taught they were lesser without a man, and men only wanted women without excess fat.  Somewhere in our lineage, excess women turned into less women: shrinking women made space for men to enter their lives.

I have been taught that everything’s better in moderation, but I’ve learned not to accommodate others if it means devaluing myself. We’ve been taught to have a relationship with food. A love-hate relationship: love the taste, hate the calories.

The world needs more confident women. Women who know that they are beautiful despite being excess, women who know how to exude confidence when they open their mouth, women who know how to mix the words they speak into the food they eat to fill everyone up. Women who don’t begin every sentence with “sorry.”

The previous generation teaches the next generation, and even though genes are inherited, behaviors are replicated, which is why I don’t know how to knit. But I can still feel the silence weaved by the previous generation onto this collective blanket of “Topics Society does not talk about.” This blanket feels heavy as it covers this ever-growing world.

And we unknowingly pick up the habits of society when we deem somebody less because they are excess. And we pick up the crumbs of food dropped by a fugitive stealing food she does not deserve. We are prisoners to society.

I watch these girls as they figure out how many bites they are entitled to, and I’ve learned to mimic them. Because sometimes inheritance is genetic, but sometimes it’s accidental, and while I try so hard to unlearn this learned behavior, a girl more perfect than I walks by. I don’t know whether to hate her or be like her, but I don’t want to do either anymore.

We don’t want to do either anymore, but the burden of society has wrapped us up tight, which is why we don’t know the requirements we need to graduate, but we know how many more calories we can eat.

Because we spend an entire lunch time deciding whether or not we deserve another piece of pizza, a circular obsession we never wanted, but have accidentally inherited.

And all we want to do is not start every sentence with the word “sorry.”

 

see also: https://alltherestisunwritten.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/game-of-comparisons/    AND https://alltherestisunwritten.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/your-body-is-not-your-own/

 

Dear Fellow Cutters: A letter

Dear Fellow Cutters (And Those Who Aren’t),

I’m writing this letter because this is an issue that needs to be discussed. I want you to know that you are not alone even if it feels like you are.

And I know I’m quoting from other things I’ve written, but this needs to be talked about.

I know what it’s like to be tormented by inner demons, who are constantly telling you you’re not good enough, or pretty enough, or insert adjective here enough. I know what it’s like to be waging a war on the battlefield of your body where the enemy is nothing other than a darker version of yourself: two sides of the same coin that will never work in tandem. You’re trying to save yourself from yourself, which is the last person you should have to worry about, but is also your own worst enemy.

I know what it’s like to hate yourself so much that self-hate eats at your soul until you are unable to feel any emotion. I know what it’s like to feel as though you are not human, because let’s be honest: A human void of emotion is no human at all. So to cope with the numbness that we feel, we cut. Because for that one minute, when the warm blood is dripping from our skin, we are allowed to feel something, anything, which is better than nothing.

I know what it’s like to become addicted to this release. I know what it’s like to hide the scars from judging eyes and from those who don’t realize anything is wrong. Because, let’s be honest, we want to see the best in people, and we don’t want to believe people around us are hurting this badly. And we don’t know how to explain we are not trying to kill ourselves; we are trying to stay alive (because in that moment, when the razor of hate touches our skin, we are not thinking about suicide. It’s after we’ve stitched ourselves back up that those thoughts begin).

But I also know what it’s like to hit your lowest point: to look down and realize your skin is not your skin anymore. After years of being bloody from fighting last night’s battles, it’s become a puzzle to be put back together. It’s become a battlefield marked with the gravestone of those lost in the fight. it’s become a maze or a timeline; traceable lines mark the path you’ve walked, how far you’ve traveled. I know what it’s like to wonder how you’ve made it this far. I know what it’s like to be scared by the future because you didn’t think you’d make it to see today.

I know what it’s like to tear the Band-Aid off, to feel the pain, to fight the fight, to put down the razor. And it’s not easy. Every day I have to tell myself that I don’t need to pick up that razor: I am better than this. For three years I have been telling myself this, and it doesn’t go away, but it gets easier.

So, dear friends who are reading this: I understand. I understand that it is hard to stop. I understand that it’s an addiction, and a method people like us use to feel alive. But if you are trying to stop, or have beaten it, I am so proud of you! For the rest of you, keep fighting. Life is hard, but it is also so beautiful.

Checkmate

One day, you wake up and realize that you don’t know how you got there. And you’re surprised because you didn’t think you would make it this far. But you did. You have.

I have.

We have.

We have secrets and stories from our pasts that are Weapons of Mass Destruction if the wrong person gets their hands on these things that have destroyed us once before. So we protect these stories for all that their worth (which we tell ourselves is not more than a penny, because like a penny we are practically worthless—it costs more to make us than what our value is. Or so we believe. But, really that’s all just lies). So we package up these secrets and stories, and tie them with bows to make them look pretty. And we put these packages on the “Do Not Discuss” Shelf of our lives and leave them there until someone cares to listen (and we tell ourselves that no one will. Check. Check. Another lie).

And repeating lies over and over again does not make them true.

But we tell ourselves that it will be fine anyway, because we’ve made it this far on our own, and we “don’t need no Superhero” in a fancy cape to come rescue us.

Because all we need rescuing from is ourselves and the demons that plague us (and personally, I’d like to see you try to climb into my mind and fight these battles for me).

Because our minds aren’t some freakishly fast rollercoaster with ups and downs that are completely unpredictable. No, our minds are dark tunnels with caution signs and landmines threatening to explode at any moment. (Did I mention the hundreds of tons of dynamite?)

So we fight these battles the only way we know how: self-destruction. Our skin is constantly bloody from fighting last night’s battles. Our stomachs are constantly roaring as we empty the contents of last night’s self-loathing.

With all this pressure to be perfect we hope that all this grit and grime will turn into a diamond. But it doesn’t. It turns into a geyser, which promptly explodes in our face.

And now the secret’s out—it’s written all over our face. And we still choose to believe the lies, because humans are stubborn. And the more times you repeat a word, the less it starts to make any sense.

Worthless.

Worthless.

Worthless.

The more you repeat a word, the less it starts to make any sense.

Worthless.

Worthless.

Worthless.

It loses its meaning over time.

Somehow, despite all this, people still care. And it’s these people who care who convince you to get help.

So, you do to appease them (because it’s better to appease the masses than to go against the flow). You learn to deal with these feelings in less destructive ways (I’ve heard that writing helps a lot).

But the feelings don’t go away; they just act more like waves. Low tide and high tide. In an instant, they come back (so this is what drowning feels like). In an instant, they go away (I can breathe again). So you come up, choking and sputtering and gasping for air. And this cycle continues.

Because sometimes you are so focused on breathing in and out that you forget how to put one foot in front of the other.

And this is ok.

It’s ok to fall in front of all the cool kids. Your Fan Club is there to boost your confidence once again.

Knowing is better than not knowing.

And it’s certainly better than the

Tick, tick, ticking bomb that could explode at any moment.

Tick

Tick

Tick

Tick

BOOM!

Checkmate.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I am writing. I am writing hard, because writing means fighting. And I’m not done fighting my inner battles. I’m not done. God is not done with me yet.

One day, He will turn this Grit and Grime into a Diamond.

I Accept the Terms and Conditions

The three biggest lies in America are: ‘That was my last piece of gum,’ ‘I’m fine,’ and ‘I have read and accept the terms and conditions.’ These are, of course, in no particular order.

It’s not that you want to lie when we encounter The Terms and Conditions, but nobody wants to sit there and read hundreds of pages of writing either.

So, when it comes to downloading the latest iTunes version, you can be divided into one of the following groups.

1)      You just click the little box without even reading a page. This could be because you are too lazy, too busy, or you just don’t care. If you are in this group, you are pretty safe; I have yet to see a Terms and Conditions that obligates you to participate in criminal activity.

OR

2)      You attempt to read the Terms and Conditions; but, somewhere between the beginning and the

end you either fall asleep, or the words become a group of undecipherable mumbo-jumbo that

literally fries your brain. If you are in this group, I applaud your effort.

 

OR

 

3)      You read the hundreds of pages of words and are able to decipher the legal jargon into an understandable language. If you are in this group, you deserve a medal; you are most likely one of the following: a superhuman, a robot, a super-intelligent ET type thing, or you have a Masters and three Doctorates.

Life doesn’t have one of this Terms and Conditions; but if it did, I imagine that it would something like this:

Contract with Life:

By signing below, you agree to the following Terms and Conditions.

1)      Life has the ability to make your time with us as easy or as hard as it would like.

2)      Life has the ability to end your contract with us whenever it wishes. At that moment, your contract will be null and void and you will no longer have a place with us. *

*this may occur with or without warning (ßwritten in fine print, as all important things are)

This document is not permissible in a court of law.

I have read and accept the Terms and Conditions

X________________________________

Unfortunately, life does not have such a thing. There is no Caution sign as you enter the world blinking “Warning: Bumpy Road Ahead.” If there was, I’m sure we would be at least a little prepared for the difficult journey that is life. In my short 18 years of life, I have learned a few valuable lessons.

1)      Don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, sometimes it is difficult. Life continually shows us people who are more successful than we are. These are the people who are out winning Olympic Medals, saving lives, changing the world. While parades and accolades are being given to them, you are standing in the background, waving your arms, trying to get noticed; you are left to eat their dust. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. Trust me, I’ve been there. But over time you learn that everybody is good at something—just at varying levels.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish byits ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

2)      We all have a purpose; we all were put here for a reason. Sometimes the reason is slow in showing itself, but eventually, it will. If you ever doubt that, put your hand over your heart; that beating you feel is purpose.

3)      The sooner that everyone realizes that we are all beautiful, interesting and unique, the sooner we will all love ourselves and stop spending our lives trying to change everything to fit in. We are made and altered exactly how we are supposed to be. Everything happens for a reason. But don’t change yourself just to fit into a society that has no idea what it’s going on about. You. Are. Gorgeous. Whether you are fat, thin, tall, short, mainstream, different, you are beautiful. Please, please, remember that. Confidence will always be your most attractive feature.

4)      People aren’t mirrors; they don’t see you the way you see yourself. So go easy on yourself.

5)      Failure is the key to success.

6)      You are harder on yourself than anybody else is.

7)       Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to call people out. The people that matter will respect you for it.

8)       When people hate you, you must be doing something right. Those who aren’t living don’t have enemies.

9)       Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to be. People don’t define you.

10)    People you talk about you. They will point fingers, whisper, and laugh. Don’t let it get to you. You are worth much more than what they give you.

11)    Always hold your head up high. It’s easier to see the beauty in things when you are looking at the sky.

12)    It doesn’t matter what people in High School see you as. Most of them won’t remember you 10 years from now.

13)    The only people that really matter are those that are there for you when you need them.

14)    You can’t trust everyone. And even when you think you can, sometimes they end up hurting you.

15)    Popularity is overrated. Being “cool” does not have any merit in the real world.

16)   . Everybody has a story. We all have hurt we are carrying. Be mindful of it.

17)   Always be willing to go out of your way to help someone, even if it’s just holding the door open. It could brighten someone’s day.

18)   Laughing until tears stream down your face and you can’t breathe is one of the best feelings in the world.

19)   Smile

(I will admit that I stole part of that list from a previous post about Graduation…).

20)   Life is short. So make the most of it while you are here. Life your life the way you want to—within the legal constraints of the law, of course; because I am going to assume that you enjoy not being in jail (unless you do enjoy being in jail, in which case you have a whole different set of issues entirely). Life your life to the fullest. Don’t be afraid to take risks; because nobody gets out alive anyway.

So, life, throw whatever you wish my way. I can take it; I’ve learned the tricks of the trade. I accept your Terms and Conditions. Bring it on!

Home is Where the Heart is

When she finally opened her eyes, it took her a moment or two to realize where she was. She was lying in a dorm room bed, birds were chirping outside the window, and the sun had already made it’s ascension into the sky. She looked at her clock: 8:15 am, Saturday Morning. Her plane back home would leave in less than 13 hours.

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She never expected to fall in love with this place; frankly, she fully anticipated not liking it. Everything she had ever heard and read about Seattle told her that it was usually rainy, and if it wasn’t, it was still really humid. Not that she had a problem with rain, because it’s oddly beautiful in its own way; it was the humidity she had a problem with. Actually, to be more exact, her hair never got along with humidity. Her temperamental, unevenly curly hair becomes a giant ball of frizzy, unruly curls when going out to play with humidity. So, when she had to imagine a week of never-ending battles with the humidity, she was pretty reluctant.

But she never anticipated the beauty that is Seattle. When she landed in Seattle-Tacoma Airport, the first thing she noticed was the mountains. Oh, how beautiful they were. She was amazed that she could be in the middle of the bustling city and could still see the mountains—their snowcapped majesties visible off in the distance. The second thing she noticed were the hills; it seemed that any path she took would be uphill both ways. That is, until she got close to the shoreline; the land there seemed to be perfectly flat. She noticed how mild the weather was—it was in the 60s or 70s every day, which was a welcome relief from the summer heat of Western New York.

Despite being outside every night, and despite being near the ocean, she never got eaten by bugs. Somebody told her it was because it was too cold at night for the eggs to hatch. Despite how bad her allergies are, she hardly ever sneezed. In fact, she sneezed more in the JFK airport during their 4 hour layover coming back home than she did all week in Seattle.

She never expected to fall in love with a place so far from home. But, she did. She fell in love with the view. She fell in love with the rain and the smell that accompanies it. She fell in love with the city. She fell in love with the little island town she visited. The town on Bainbridge Island reminded her of those little towns that Nicholas Sparks writes about. The town reminded her of those picturesque villages where everybody knows each other; a town with quaint little shops and little cottages seen in cape towns.  She loved it all. She loved the anonymity that the city offered. As she walked through the city, she grew more confident because nobody knew her. She could have been anybody she wanted to be.

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As she looked out her plane window that night as they flew over Seattle, she felt a pang of sadness as her heart broke. She finally understood what it was like to be in love. It was at that moment that she vowed to return, because home is where the heart is. And she left her heart in Seattle.