A Letter To Those Who Helped Me Grow

A Letter To Those Who Helped Me Grow

I wouldn't be who I am today without every single one of you.
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I used to be scared to speak outside of my safe little cul-de-sac. Teachers loved me because I was so “well-behaved” and “attentive,” but in reality I broke a sweat thinking about raising my hand. I doubt I spoke more than a paragraph at school in the entirety of my third-grade year. I’m not sure why I was so afraid; I was too young to really have body image issues or jealousy over other girls’ beauty. I knew I was one of the smartest if not the smartest kid in my grade, possibly my school (we’re talking elementary school here, it’s not like I had much competition). I was relatively confident in myself, so why couldn’t I speak? I guess I was afraid of new people, or messing up in front of new people. I was so anxious to make friends it prevented me from making friends.

In fourth grade I got bullied pretty bad. Girls drew ugly pictures of me on the whiteboard, they called me poor and gross, and they bombarded me, both emotionally and physically. I was a model student, so I refused to go to the principal’s office about any of this. I was sure one step into that administration office would seal me into some serious trouble once I got home. So I did my best to ignore it. Teachers moved me around the classroom, I avoided eye contact, and my mouth stayed shut. Eventually, however, one of my teachers had had enough. I distinctly remember her pulling me to the side out of class and telling me I needed to stand up for myself, that there wouldn’t always be teachers and guidance counselors to help. She told me I needed to believe in myself and finally react, finally speak. She made sure not to encourage me to be physical—I “should never stoop that low”—but that maybe if I just said something, the girls wouldn’t find me to be such an easy target. I remember crying as I reentered the classroom, terrified and nearly shaking, but I retook my seat and dried it up as best I could. She was the one teacher who refused to move me, who actually purposefully sat me with the girls who harassed me. To this day I’m not sure that was the best method of getting a fourth-grade kid to retaliate, but it worked for me, I guess. I learned to find the strength to be brave against other kids, to not let myself get walked over. To speak up if I saw something bad. To speak at all.

Middle school was a big blur, but I remember clearly how much my self-esteem and self-worth were torn down like Jericho, and my peers were the trumpets. By the time I got to high school I felt weak again; not nearly as bad as my childhood, but it took a great amount of courage to get me to say something to anyone outside of my small group of friends. Then I met a girl, older than me, who constantly encouraged me in whatever I was doing, praised my outfit or my hair, and was always just a beacon of light in my eyes. I idolized her. (I still do a bit, even to this day.) Now I know, of course, she was just a nice person, and that treatment wasn’t just for me. I wasn’t exactly special. But at the time it made me feel special, amazing, like one of my peers actually really liked and respected me. She has no idea how much of an impact she’s had on me, even to this day, but I’ll be forever grateful. She helped me, albeit inadvertently, find the confidence to find myself, grow into myself and embrace the young woman I was becoming. I found the strength to do more than exist in my body, but to express with my body, to experience new things, and to not be so damn worried all the time. I learned to not care if someone didn’t like me, and as I grew more confident, I had more and more friends to make up for those who weren’t on the best terms with me. If you didn’t like me, that was fine. I had enough love around me for three people, so you didn’t make a difference.

These are only two people who helped me along my journey of self-confidence and discovery, but I promise there’s plenty more, both more and less impactful than those I mentioned. All of these people inspire me every day, even now as I’m approaching my twenties, to make the best impact I can, to be as nice as I can, and to lift those around me the best I can. Not every day is a great day, but if I can complement someone, make someone laugh with a stupid joke I stole off the internet, or even just happily share a meal with a friend, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I am who I am, and I found that myself, but I’m thankful for the giant but silent pillars of support below me. The words to properly express just how much those people mean to me will never come into fruition, but as I’m continuing to develop myself and become whoever it is I’m supposed to be, I think back fondly to those who helped me grow. I hope to be one of those people to someone else one day. If I can ever reach that feat, I will consider the span of my life truly meaningful.

Thank you.

Signed,

That Weird Kid Who Finally Learned To Talk

Cover Image Credit: http://holisticfaith.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/helping-others.jpg

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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I Wonder If You'd Be Proud of Me

Or if you even think of me at all.

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I wonder if you'd be proud of me.

My first thought when I wake up in the morning is whether or not you still think of me. I think about if I am wearing the right outfit if I were to see you that day. I think about if I am saying the right thing for you to want to want me again.

Throughout my day, I think about whether or not you're happy. I wonder if the feeling in my heart of missing who I thought you were is making its way to you. Sometimes I think about what I did to make you hate me as much as you do.

Sometimes when things get really hard, I think about picking up the phone to call you. Time keeps passing from the last time I saw you and during that time I've painted a picture of you that would probably only disappoint me in the end. Your phone number still sits in my phone and I go to your contact, wanting to call, but knowing that at the other end is not the person I used to know.

I wonder if you watch me. I wonder if the posts I make, pictures I post, and articles I write are viewed by you and whether or not you care to even search my name. I wonder if you ask people about me or if you care to know the person I am today.

Without you, I have changed. It has been two years and though time will only continue moving on without you, I wonder what would have happened if I didn't make the choices I made to make you react in the way you have.

When the sun shines bright on the flowers blooming around campus, I think of your jokes and sarcastic wit. When the rain pours from the sky and keeps me imprisoned within the walls of a building, I think of ways I felt imprisoned by you. When clouds form shapes in the sky that I can make stories out of, I think of the way life could've been.

Sometimes I write to you. They are the letters I can never send because I have to remind myself that though we knew each other once, you do not know me anymore. The picture in my mind of who you are now is someone who'd love me with open arms, but I know that there's no truth in that. It's only my wishful thinking out to break my heart once more.

I wonder if you hear me when I try talking to you. I wonder if the words I tell God are making their way to you as you go on living the life we always talked about when times get tough. I wonder if you're talking to God about me.

As I watch the sunset, I think about the last moment I was with you. As that chapter ended, I was only wishfully thinking that walking away would save me from further pain. In the end, I don't know about how life would've been different had it not happened.

When my picture of you gets too bright and I share it with others, I am reminded of reality. The screaming, crying, pushing, shoving, and hitting touches my skin once more in the form of flashbacks that push me further down into the depths of a depression. I am reminded of the hundreds of suicidal thoughts and letters that I've written once before.

No matter what, my heart still yearns for a hug. A hug where I can bury myself into your body and feel safe. A hug where I forget every worry in my mind and focus solely on the love.

I wonder if you'd still love me if I changed myself to be the person you've always wanted me to be. I wonder if you'd forgive me for walking away, even if it was for me to change to be a better person. I wonder if you'll ever even read this.

Days like today, I want to go back in time. I sit on the benches around campus and look up at the sky, down at the cars passing by, and listen to life move on all around me as I remain stuck. I hear people talking, see them laughing, and wonder if there's any way I could one day feel as alive as they do.

The truth is that I was never enough for you. No matter how much I changed, kept notes of what you liked so I could be like that, or just kept my head down and moved silently, nothing was ever enough.

No matter what, though, I still yearn to be loved in the way that I picture you should've loved me. Closure does not exist. You were the ones who were supposed to hold me down. But now I am nothing to you...I was always nothing to you.

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