I didn't know what "cankles" were until I did. One day before softball practice, I was sitting in the sun killing time and the other girls kept using that word. I had never heard it, so I asked what it was. They told me it meant "covered ankles" or something like that, and then informed me that I had them. I was only ten.
I didn't know what love was until I did. It was that warm, fuzzy, dizzy feeling that consumes you. All it takes is one thought, one look, one kiss. It was not caring what everyone else thought of that person, and coming up with whatever excuse I could to just be around them. It was scribbling his name in my journal, and pretending that those sappy love songs on the radio were about him. It was endless Facebook chats and texting him on my mom's phone then deleting the messages so she wouldn't see. It was finally getting to slow dance with him and watching everyone else in the room fade away. It was playing spin the bottle at a Halloween party praying with all my might that it would land on him and feeling sparks when it finally did. I was only eleven.
I didn't know what a clique was until I did. It was going along with the "popular girls" even though I knew in my gut that it was wrong. It was coordinating outfits and making sure nobody else copied us or else. It was the silly teasing that I would come to understand wasn't so silly. It was telling everyone I didn't like the boy I knew I loved because I was so sick of the relentless comments about how "nobody even liked him". It was having my heart broken because words and gossip got twisted through the grapevine and we were too immature to try and talk about it. I was only twelve.
I didn't know what it felt like to be stabbed in the back until I did. It was walking in on a friend kissing the same boy she made fun of me for liking the year before. It was the wind being snatched from me and I stood their and watched it happen. It was her calling me crying saying how sorry she was, even though she knew every single detail of what happened between us. It was me forgiving her because I honestly believed what she told me. I was only thirteen.
I didn't know loneliness until I did. It was cold, sad, isolating. It was spending every single weekend at home by myself. It was having nothing to do, and no one to talk to. It was making friends that never seemed to stay for more than a few weeks. It was walking down the hallways at school as quickly as I possibly could with my eyes glued to the floor or my phone. It was avoiding eye contact with everyone because I couldn't risk making it with the wrong people. I was only fourteen.
I didn't know how much negativity someone can have for themselves until I did. It was another year of loneliness combined with bad habits. I was only fifteen.
I didn't know what freedom felt like until I did. It was finally being able to leave the house without my parents. It was begging to go to run any errand for my parents just so I could parade the keys around the store. It was driving myself to school with my dad in the passenger seat so he could take it to work after I got out. I was only sixteen.
I didn't know that I had a voice until I did. It was getting involved. It was becoming a leader for other students. It was volunteering anywhere and any time I could. It was seeing that you are never too young to make a difference. I was only seventeen.
I didn't know how short life was until I did. It was finding out that an old friend lost her life only a few weeks into senior year. It was realizing that she would never get to do anything that everyone else our age would do. Graduate, get a degree, get married, have a family. I was only nineteen.
I didn't know what living was until I did. It was going to a foreign country by myself. It was traveling alone, managing my time, money, and schedule. It was exploring and figuring things out without the help of my parents. It was seeing the world through a different lens. It was walking around the places we read about in our history books. It was feeling like I was on top of the world with every new place I discovered. I was still only eighteen.
I didn't know change until I did. I thought I knew before, but I really didn't get it until I came to college. It is becoming someone new every day. It is challenging myself in every aspect of the word. It is realizing that not everyone will be my friend, and there will always be lots of immature people out there. It's knowing my limits and not feeling pressured by what everyone else is doing. It's realizing that I need to love myself before anyone else can even attempt to. It's knowing that you can't change the past and that life only goes forward, with or without you. It's trying to not get too overwhelmed with the weight of the world and remembering...I am only nineteen.