On Beginnings

On Beginnings

How Escapism Led Me To Writing
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Every now and again, we’ve to look back to our past and consider the lives we’ve lived. Up to this point, overall, I’ve not lived a bad life. Yet, who I am today stems from the moments of my life that I didn’t wish to face, whether it be due to pain, anxiety, or the desire to be elsewhere.

Growing up I had the good fortune of being part of a family who took great pleasure in vacationing. They didn’t vacation for the adventure of traveling, but rather for the indulgence of escaping a ordinary life.

It was never the destinations that drove them to a location; local culture, history, and art did not interest them. Instead, it was the prospect of complete service. The idea that they could spend money upfront to have others care for them. At least, when I think back to it, this is how it seemed to be.

Every now and again they’d sign us up for an excursion, but most of these vacations were spent around the pool, with me fetching them drinks, over-eating at the buffet, and sleeping.

Over the years, when the number of family-friends who joined in climbed, we started looking into different resorts, but the similar areas. For me, most of the time, I was on my own during these vacations to Mexico.

Being the youngest, I had to find ways to entertain myself, to get away from the feeling of being an outsider. Aside from being the youngest, I was a shy, heavy-set child. To do something alone was terrifying, yet to sit around the pool and watch all others laughing and becoming drunk would worsen that sense of not belonging.

I suppose I should’ve added that I began reading at a young age. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I was told it would help with my speech—for a number of years in elementary school, I was part of the speech therapy program. Through reading, I found a kind of pleasure in the act of fantasizing the material. Like many other children, I would daydream constantly, and I found that reading only served to deepen those daydreams. In a way, I read to bring about more intricate, enjoyable dreams.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when all the anxieties begin in life. When did walking into a room of strangers become terrifying? When did the shaking in my hands, the sensation of my body locking up begin? When did my dreams become nightmares?

At some point in my childhood, things changed. Fears began. Shame started to grow within me. Things that I had found joy in seem to lose the appeal they once had. Dreaming became a frightful act of violence. My subconscious had seemingly turned on me, and night after night I tried to stay awake, to keep away from dreaming. This was the time that night terrors began.

During these years, I stopped reading. Before, before the terrors, I would record my dreams down in a notebook. Now, I tried to keep away from them. Most nights when I’d sleep over at friends, I’d wake in the middle of the night, crying, demanding to go home—the only place I thought of as comforting.

It was also during these years where I began playing video games, and it was through video games where I found pleasure in escaping the present. It was a means to live a life that was not my own, yet, in some aspect, was my own. After all, I was the mind behind each character I played through as, guiding them through their world. I had become a hand of fate to these fictitious characters.

With the ongoing divorce of my parents, and the hard move away from my childhood home—a house that I always said I’d never leave—this is how I spent a large portion of my teenage years: hiding away in digital realities.

When I was nineteen, after working a year in a UPS warehouse, I landed a job at Barnes & Noble. They hired me because of my experience in that warehouse. Not due to my background or remote love for literature. In short, I had no idea what literature even was. I was in community college at the time, on academic probation for nearly flunking the spring semester. Life wasn’t what I thought it would be. All my close friends were away at universities, and I was struggling with community college, working at a Barnes & Noble for extra money.

The feeling of being an outsider was, perhaps, a feeling that never truly left me. There were numerous times, early in the morning, as I stocked the book aisles, when I’d think back to those days of my youth spent on vacations with my family, about the time wasted hiding away in video games, about the night terror—which were returning at this age after years of calm. I was nineteen, and I didn’t know who I was, or what I was supposed to do.

One day, relatively early on in my days at Barnes & Noble, I was shelving fiction books. I flipped through the first pages of the books I had heard about in high school—Slaughterhouse-Five, Frankenstein, Catcher and the Rye. After that shift, I bought three books. Among those three books was The Alchemist.

I didn’t know anything about it, or Paulo Coelho, only that a friend I worked with at that time, Janna, highly recommended it. It was in that book that I started discovering the wonders of language, the light that’s tucked between the pages. It was The Alchemist that allowed me to escape, yet with a purpose.

The next morning, after finishing the novel, I sat down beside the fireplace of my home at the time, opened a blank page, and began writing for myself. It was with these first lines, which grew into one of my first short stories, that taught me who I am, what I am, and how to become that which we’re meant to become.

Often the world works against us. However, every now and again, we manage to remain quiet enough to hear its whisper ushering us into a specific direction, towards the light that remains at a distance in the dark.

Cover Image Credit: Coty Poynter

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An Open Letter To The Girl Trying To Get Healthy Again

"I see you eating whatever you want and not exercising" - Pants
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Dear girl trying to get back in shape,

I know it's hard. I know the hardest thing you may do all day is walk into the gym. I know how easy it is to want to give up and go eat Chicken McNuggets, but don't do it. I know it feels like you work so hard and get no where. I know how frustrating it is to see that person across the table from you eat a Big Mac every day while you eat your carrots and still be half of your size. I know that awful feeling where you don't want to go to the gym because you know how out of shape you are. Trust me, I know.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Trying To Lose Weight In College


The important thing is you are doing something about it. I'm sure you get mad at yourself for letting your body get this out of shape, but life happens. You have made a huge accomplishment by not having a soda in over a month, and those small changes are huge. I understand how hard it is, I understand how frustrating it is to not see results and I understand why you want to give up. Being healthy and fit takes so much time. As much as I wish you could wake up the day after a good workout with the 6 pack of your dreams, that just isn't the reality. If being healthy was easy, everyone would do it, and it wouldn't feel so good when you got there.

Remember how last January your resolution was to get back in the gym and get healthy again? Think about how incredible you would look right now if you would have stuck with it. The great thing is that you can start any time, and you can prove yourself wrong.

Tired of starting over? Then don't give up.

You are only as strong as your mind. You will get there one day. Just be patient and keep working.

Nothing worth having comes easy. If you want abs more than anything, and one day you woke up with them, it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as watching your body get stronger.

Mental toughness is half the battle. If you think you are strong, and believe you are strong, you will be strong. Soon, when you look back on the struggle and these hard days, you will be so thankful you didn't give up.

Don't forget that weight is just a number. What is really important is how you feel, and that you like how you look. But girl, shout out to you for working on loving your body, because that shit is hard.

To the girl trying to get healthy again, I am so proud of you. It won't be easy, it will take time. But keep working out, eating right, and just be patient. You will be amazed with what your body is capable of doing.

Cover Image Credit: Stock Snap

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Dealing With Self-Harm And Overcoming It

Mental health matters and overcoming it is possible.

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Recently, there has been a controversy over whether mental illness is a real illness or not. After dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts since I was 13, I can give my opinion that mental illness IS, in fact, an illness.

This past Monday, I reached an extensive milestone in my life. I am now one year clean of self-harm. Whenever my issue first arose, I never believed I would be able to pass it. I believed that it would be something I dealt with for the rest of my life. Mental illness is not something that you choose. It pops up out of the blue one day and takes control of your life. You let it manipulate you and take advantage of your weaknesses and hold power over you. I let it hold power over me for six years. Finally, I found the courage to break out of that manipulation and take control of my own life again.

Self-harm was a part of my routine for such a long time that I never expected it to go away. It was there in my times of sadness, my times of anger, and my times of need. I believed it to be my only source of comfort. I believed that it would solve all of my problems. In the end, I found out I was wrong. Hurting and damaging myself and leaving behind scars was not going to help me out of this state of mind, even if it felt like my only option. I had to hide underneath sweaters and jackets and cardigans for so long that I didn't want to do it anymore. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and hoodies in the dead of summer and being asked why I was wearing them never got easier. I figured the first step in starting my recovery was to stop hiding who I was and to let my scars be free.

Being free was what I decided to do. I let my scars be seen, which was completely terrifying at first. I thought that everyone around me would notice them and have something to say about me. I expected to be called a freak. Luckily, no one even noticed. That was almost comforting to me–to realize that I didn't need to hide what wouldn't be noticed. After a while, though, those closest to me took notice. They asked me "Why would you do this to yourself?" over and over again with tears in their eyes. I told them that I felt like it was my only solution to deal with all the hurt and the pain I had collected over the years. That's when I noticed I wasn't hurting just myself. That was when I decided to try becoming a happier and healthier person.

Now here I am, one year later: No self-harm, no thoughts of suicide, and feeling less depressed and anxious. I took back control of my own life. Being public about my problems was something I never believed I would do, but I realized that it actually helped me grow as a person. It was freeing to be able to share my experiences and not be embarrassed. Sure, every once in a while I had a few mental breakdowns, but I held back the "need" to harm myself to make the pain go away.

I turned to another thing to make the pain go away: My friends. I never realized how much love I had around me. I always pushed it away. I had someone to listen to me and help get me through my tough time. I didn't need to keep everything bottled up and harm myself to make it feel better. I had love and comfort–two of the strongest things in the world. I had finally started on the road to health and happiness and I wasn't making any pit stops along the way.

Mental illness occurs more often than you think and signs are being shown everywhere. If you know someone suffering, don't be afraid to reach out and give them some help or just a shoulder to cry on. If you or a person you know is having suicidal thoughts, please don't be afraid to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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