Building the New Me

So, I went back to my mom’s house a few weekends ago. The house I grew up in. The house that will always be home. The place where all my childhood memories live. I went back to sift through all the old things in my old room, to clear it out since I am moving to Colorado. I went back to pick out the things I want to keep, sell, and donate. It was rather nostalgic, and quite eye-opening.

I ended up finding my creative writing portfolio from my junior year of high school. Talk about a blast from the past! I was a little nervous opening it because I remember how I was in high school. I wasn’t sure I wanted to relive that time of my life. I actually didn’t open it at first. I put it off to the side and continued going through my closet. However, I kept looking at it. And after a while, I decided I did actually want to see what was inside.

I had butterflies in my stomach.

But, I opened it.

I started reading…

As I read my poetry and short stories, my 17-year-old self came pouring out of the pages. As I read, I could remember writing every single word. I recognized the titles. I could recall feeling the emotions that were written on each page. I remember crying while I was writing some of the lines. High school came flooding back in an instant. Fourteen years have passed since my junior year, but it felt as if I was transported back in time.

All the emotions I felt in high school…anger – so much anger, loneliness, abandonment, feeling unlovable, sadness, fear of the unknown, insecurities. My words were vulnerable, honest, dark; very dark. It made me sad for my 17-year-old self. It made me sad realizing just how depressed I actually was at the time. I didn’t realize it then because I was so deep inside of it.

I wish I could go back and talk to my 17-year-old self and tell her that it’s going to be okay. Tell her that even though it feels like her walls are crumbling around her and she is in the middle of an earthquake that it all works out.

I wish I could tell her that she will have hardships, and things won’t always be easy, but to be patient because she will acquire such strength she didn’t know lived inside her. To be patient through the immense heartaches, the pain, the financial struggles, the nights spent crying alone. I wish I could tell her that she will, finally, someday feel true happiness, unconditional love, and feel whole.

I wish I would have understood all of those things, but at the same time without the hard things I have endured I wouldn’t be who I am today. I needed the unbearable moments to know that I have it in me to persevere through them. I needed the tough times to know that I can get through them and grow from them.

One in particular poem that really stood out to me was a list poem. I titled it “25 Things I Wish I Could Do.”

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The first thing I wrote was “see the world.” My dream of traveling the world has always been a thing. Wanderlust has always been in my soul, and clearly it has been for a very long time. The difference, though, between then and now is that I used to want to travel to escape; to get away from the darkness. Today, I want to see the world in order to discover, learn, grow, and experience all the world has to offer. And now,  I am going to do something about it. I am not going to just talk about it anymore. I am putting things into motion that will help me travel to all the places I’ve dreamed of seeing.

The second thing I wrote down was that I wanted to “know if God really existed.” Until reading this poem, I had no idea that I was searching for Him in high school. I don’t remember Him ever being on my radar in the least, or in my thoughts. I think all these bad things kept happening that I made myself believe He wasn’t real. Because if He was real and if He loved me then how come all these awful things kept happening? I have no idea if I was searching for answers before seventeen or not. But, now…oh my gosh! After ten plus years of searching I found God. The last four and half years have been absolutely incredible. Four and a half years ago my life took a 180! Now, I know why things happened the way they did for all these years. If they hadn’t I wouldn’t know unconditional love or trust God and His plan for me. My journey to knowing God deserves its own post, however. Perhaps, in the future…

The third thing that stuck out to me was “fly – like a bird.” I think this is why I love being in an airplane; 35,000 miles above the earth. The view from up there is just spectacular, magical, and awe-inspiring. It’s definitely swoon-worthy. And, it kind of goes hand in hand with seeing the world. I’ve always loved the window seat. Being above the clouds makes me dream, wish, and hope. It makes my heart flutter like when you’re in love. It’s my favorite!

And, the fourth thing that stuck out to me was “be wonder woman.” I have been wracking my brain trying to think about what this meant when I was seventeen. I can’t seem to come to any conclusions. So, I asked myself, “What does this mean to me today?”

And, the answer, my friends, is this:

Wonder Woman to me is being strong, empowered, and brave. It means being able to stand up for myself, being able to persevere through hard things (just like my mom!), the ability to push through my fears, believing in myself and my dreams. It’s running after my dreams and accomplishing them. It’s not giving up when people tell me I can’t do something. It’s knowing that I am always changing, always growing, always improving. It’s having compassion, empathy, and love for those who need it the most. It’s knowing and believing that I am worthy of love and good things in my life.

I am so grateful that I found my junior year creative writing portfolio. It’s shown me how far I really have come since then. It’s shown me that I have grown in leaps and bounds since then. I’ve realized all the tough, hard, and bad things that have happened have  been shaping me into the woman I am today. I know and believe, now, that God will always make beauty out of the ashes. There is always something to learn from the hard things that happen in life. There is always opportunities to learn and grow, especially during the dark times.

It is, also, rather satisfying that I have accomplished a few things on my list, and that I am currently trying to achieve some of them. And, now, I have more things to strive toward. Maybe some day I WILL build a skyscraper, or climb Mount Everest, and maybe even touch a star! Anything is possible, and I have the ability, strength, and determination to achieve it!

And you know what, my friends… so do you!

I so appreciate my creative writing teacher, Mrs. Dorrance. I have thought about her off and on throughout the years. Her class had such an impact on me, and I didn’t realize until recently just how much. She is easily in my top 5 favorite teachers I’ve ever had! I found this letter with my portfolio, and it proves just how amazing she really was!

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I will keep writing. I will keep reading. I will keep filling my life with photography and art.

I will keep living!

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Creative Writing Class, 2004

I will leave you with a quote by Socrates:

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

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