When I was 13 years old, my sister dared me to jump off a rope swing. I was terrified of heights, and had no intention of actually letting go, but I climbed the ladder anyway. As each hand grazed the rungs, I reflected on my decision, and even questioned my logic, but never once did I consider crawling back down. I was going to stare into the belly of the beast even if it destroyed me. I made it to the top of the ledge, held on the rope, and looked down. From up on the perch, it looked like the whole world was at my fingertips. I could have reached out and touched the top of every tree if I wanted to. I waved to my sister, saw my parents looking on from the porch, and braced myself. Eyes closed, heart pounding, I steadied my breath and hoped for the best. Instead. I. Froze.

This is what happens for every major decision. I tend to make choices and be fine, but later down the road overthink and end up changing my mind. Take college, for example. I started looking at colleges as a sophomore, much too early for anyone in their right mind. I wanted to be absolutely sure that the school I chose was the best fit for me, and would give me the opportunities that I so desperately craved. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that no amount of planning and researching could secure my rightful place in the school of my dreams. Because unfortunately, reality came crawling back in, and things just wouldn’t have worked out. I ended up at a great school anyway, and though it isn’t perfect I think I can thrive here. My problem was that I was still standing up on that ledge with the rope in my hand for the first semester of school. I hadn’t let go of what could have been; what I wanted it to be.

Letting go has never been easy for me. I can barely part with old toys still, especially if they hold a memory or two within their seams. I keep old cards and letters in a box, and I even have a large tote filled with high school notebooks that I will most likely never open again, but can’t bear to throw away. I’m overly sentimental that way, and usually it doesn’t affect my life in drastic measures. But coming off to college was a different battle altogether. I was being forced to essentially let go of the fabric that held me tight for 18 years. The school district that I had grown up into and learned to love was no longer going to be a place of comfort. The family dynamic I had spent years perfecting was being thrown to the wayside. To make matters worse, the friends that I had made along the way who were willing to accept all of my quirks would no longer be a constant. This was next level letting go, and I was holding tight to the rope, unable to leave the platform I was all too happy to climb onto.

Things have gotten a little easier since then; those first few months alone are over. Not without a lot of work, but I have taken steps to make sure my leap will be worth it. I have learned to let go of the past, but I am still afraid of swinging full speed towards my future. My eyes are open and ready. My heart is calm and collected; beating rhythmically along with my breath. And though a lot of things have held me back, I am breaking them off of me, one by one. I know who will stay with me as I leap. I am not afraid of the unknown anymore; it excites me. I feed off of my future endeavors.

So now I am choosing to let go. Full speed ahead towards the future, I have no energy for those I left behind. They are now in my past, and this is my future. There are some who made the leap with me, and I can not thank them enough for an amazing ride. I know now that I am capable of so much more than I expected. I held myself back on the platform, because I thought that jumping would be worse than staying where I was. I was comfortable, so there was no need to change, right? I can honestly say that I could never have been more wrong. Here I am, my whole life at my fingertips, and I am finally letting go and swinging free.

I am letting go of my past mistakes, and who I was. Of my insecurities and the way they made me act around others. I am letting go of people who belittled me, instead of building me up. I am letting go of the girl I was, to become the woman I aspire to be. Letting go of toxic people, who took all of my love and trust just to throw it back in my face. They are of no importance to me now. I am choosing to let go of who I thought I was, to find out who I should be. Instead of focusing on the negative, I will look for the positive in any and all situations. I will not be destroyed. I will not be detered from my goals anymore, or toyed with for being genuine. I refuse to be a pawn on someone else's chess board. No one will stop me now, or ever again. I’d like to see them try.

Love, Shyana Marie