An Open Letter To My Friend In The Navy

An Open Letter To My Friend In The Navy

"Come home soon. Write me when you can. I'll be waiting for you."
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I watched a documentary in one of my classes about video games (of all things), and I thought of you. We were learning about Call of Duty and how it makes people believe they are in a constant state of war. It makes people believe they are soldiers.

I know it sounds silly, but I thought of you. I know you’re still training, and you aren’t in immediate danger. We all know where you are to send you mail. You’re able to text me back every now and then.

But still, it made me remember that you are not just away at another school. You’re not 15 minutes away like you used to be. You’re now so much more of an adult than I am, even though you’re only a couple months older than me.

Now all I’m thinking about are our memories, because it feels like forever since I’ve seen you. The first time we met, you called me stupid because I was reading one of the Twilight books. I don’t remember which one because you were right- I was stupid. From that moment on, we challenged each other. We were friendly, but we were different than other girls, somehow. We were there for each other at the most random moments. We didn’t try and be friends, but we were.

You were randomly there the same day I auditioned for that arts school we both thought we were so ready for. Neither of us got in, and one of our first moments of high school was bonding over how much we hated our high school. Our friendship became stronger.

We went through countless days of struggling through classes and auditions and shows. And god, did we struggle sometimes. You and I were friends with the same people, and I’m not ashamed to say I tagged along with you because it was safe and comfortable even when I didn’t get along with the same people. When we got dropped from that group, we formed our own, eventually. But we parted. We didn’t think about each other.

Yet we came back together. We went through our first jobs, our first year of college, our first loves. Both of us needed something from the other, but there was no demanding. You didn’t tell me you needed me to babysit you sometimes. I didn’t say I wanted to have fun and stop thinking about school all the time. We, in short, learned how to be independent...together.

Our conflicts went from big-scale fights to solving themselves in 10 minutes with some curse words, a huff of silence, and the two of us finding common ground afterwards to forget we had fought at all.

I’ve missed you a lot more than I can convey in any letter. The last time I saw you, like really saw you, was in January. I went to the gym with you at 6 a.m. because you wanted to get one last workout in before you left. You were so nervous you wouldn’t make it, that you’d get sent home because you couldn’t run 1.5 miles in 18 minutes. I couldn’t help but stare at you in awe; you didn’t even know what a role model you were to me, panting and sweating and freaking out because your dream was to be the best.

You didn’t know you already were. I wanted to spend any time I could with you. I asked questions I don’t remember the answers to. I hugged you too much and screamed too loud and wanted to roll the windows down every time we drove anywhere the last week to blast music and make memories and laugh.

I got excited any time I saw a letter from you in the mailbox, every envelope a performance of me running to grab the mail and sprinting back to read it to all our friends (and anyone else who would listen). I was Charlie Bucket with a golden ticket.

You’ll never understand how proud of you I am. I know I’m not your mom, but I feel like I’m watching you grow into someone I’ve never met, though I’m so excited to get to know her. She has a new snake tattoo and she has shorter hair and she looks like the same Instagram model I know and love. I’m really excited about this.

Come home soon. Write to me when you can. We’ll all be waiting, and you can bet I’m going to tackle you and tell you everything and show you all the videos and photos I’ve been collecting.

Cover Image Credit: Abbie Hunter

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Picking Passion Over Pressure Is The Answer To A Fulfillng Life

Don't crack under pressure, flourish with passion.

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What motivates your actions? The answer to this critical question can determine whether or not you are living a fulfilling life. Many of us follow a social script as if we are reading lines from a play. We succumb to the influence of those around us and roam aimlessly in the direction of the masses.

The concept of living within the confinement of certain "norms" is an expectation society calls us to uphold, and it is not an entirely negative idea. But when life becomes "a series of motions to go through", this expectation can become problematic. When you find yourself stressed out about doing whatever it is you think that you have to do, stop and ask yourself if it makes you truly happy. Are you pursuing your passion or are you just performing under pressure? To find true contentment in your life, pick passion over pressure.

Be an individual before an identity.

When people first introduce themselves to a new friend or group of people, they are quick to jump to aspects of their life that compose their identity. Many of us define ourselves by what it is we do, and not necessarily who we actually are. For example, this can include identifying as a member of a club or sports team or even defining yourself based on accolades and accomplishments you have achieved. While these are definitely adequate ways to distinguish yourself from others, have you ever stopped to look beneath the surface? It is important to know what unique qualities make you an individual and not just a part of a larger entity.

By viewing yourself as an individual, you will find your passions in life more easily and find genuine enjoyment in all that you do. Taking on an identity will only hold you under unnecessary pressure to fulfill a role that could leave you feeling unsatisfied later on.

Become self-aware.

To find out what makes you truly happy, you need to establish a clear sense of who you are. Fostering self-awareness is a journey, and it can be discovered through life experiences. In order to figure out what you love doing, push yourself out of your comfort zone to figure out what you don't love doing. This can mean joining a new club, taking a challenging class, or working in an environment that you are unfamiliar with. Once you begin to discover how you react in certain situations, use these personality traits to your advantage.

Don't make the same mistake twice, and avoid taking on a position that you know would not be compatible with your lifestyle. By becoming self-aware, you will discover your passion more easily and will be able to take on realistic opportunities that will prove to be fulfilling. When you try to become someone you are not, it will seem like there is always a lingering pressure to "keep up the act", and it will be harder to accomplish tasks because you don't truly enjoy doing them.

View outside opinions with a filtered lens.

Don't let others dictate your future. When you make life decisions based on what other people think is best for you, you will be pleasing everyone except yourself. Consciously decide whose opinions are valid, meaningful, and constructive to your life. This can include the wisdom of close friends and relatives, professors, or a boss that has known you for years. By finding out who knows you best and who truly desires the best for your life, you can tune out the background noise and hone in on the few voices that actually do matter.

Place value in what these people have to say, and take the words of others with a grain of salt. Avoid letting irrelevant or negative opinions linger in your mind. If you allow the influence of others to infiltrate your decision making, you will find yourself in many regrettable situations and unsatisfied with the outcome of your choices. By subscribing to the helpful advice shared by those closest to you, you can foster your true passion.

Practice positive thinking. 

You can't find out what makes you happy in life without actually experiencing what happiness is. To discover your passion, adopt a positive mindset. Get out of the habit of mentally putting yourself down, and take the word "can't" out of your thought process. The more mental blocks you put on yourself, the less likely you are to have good experiences. Release your inhibitions and train your brain seek positivity in any situation.

Don't allow minor inconveniences to disturb you, and remind yourself of the saying that "it is only a bad day, not a bad life." In doing so, the positive choices you make will lead you in the direction of your passion so that you can live a fulfilling life.

Be open to new ideas. 

Keeping an open mind will allow you to experience life from a new perspective. Even when something seems foreboding, treat it as a lesson. If you cannot think of a positive quality for the situation you find yourself in, then don't assign your circumstances any qualities at all. If you keep a neutral mindset, you will eliminate the possibility for disappointment. This will encourage learning and growth, which are essential in your journey to finding your true passion.

Being open to new ideas will help you avoid sticking to the status quo. By taking part in something you have never done before, you are less likely to find yourself confined by what others expect you to do.

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