I Am A Porcelain Mask Of The Person I Was 10 Years Ago

I Am A Porcelain Mask Of The Person I Was 10 Years Ago

As a child, I was carefree and wild. Now, I've grown up.

Mona Lisa was known for her slight ambiguous smile; was she satisfied with her remarkable accomplishments, or was she drowning in the depths of her inner turmoil? The world may never know. The candid picture of 9-year-old me, however, alleviated any general confusion about my feelings — my radiant, toothy grin was a clear indication of my jubilation.

Clustered among my friends sitting on the grass, I was sucking on a cheap, red popsicle. My mother had warned me of the countless chemicals present in the red coloring, but here I was, enjoying what I believed to be a mighty act of rebellion. With my uneven pigtails, oversized jeans and loud "my dog ate my homework" animated shirt, I was the image of the stereotypical elementary schooler except for one thing: my tomboyish qualities.

My white shoes were splattered with mud from countless hours of playing kickball with the boys and my knees were bruised from falling over during tag. I constantly seemed like a Raggedy Ann doll while the other girls preserved their delicate porcelain looks by sitting in a circle and playing pattycake. Looking at myself now, I noticed that over the years, my sun-kissed skin had become overshadowed by a mask — a porcelain mask.

Looking at this photo reminds me of the childhood that I have shed like a snake’s skin.

The muddy sneakers I had once worn to school everyday have become white converse that I take great care to not dirty. My garish t-shirts have been traded for elegant floral blouses. My oversized bootcut jeans transformed into fitted, skinny, ripped denims. I wear my curly hair down everyday, avoiding high ponytails lest I wish to resemble a boy. I have learned to rein in my boisterous laughter — instead, amusing tales only release small, controlled chuckles from my tightly-zipped mouth.

The most concerning change I have observed is my lack of voice. I had begun to restrain my thoughts and comments to fit society’s ideals, even though those ideals clashed with my own. I had scared myself into believing that any step outside the box I had confined myself in would result in a decline of the respect that others have for me.

The girl in the picture and my present self are one person, but we could not be more different. She still has all things I have lost over the years: the passion for music, the time to practice her cursive writing (especially the loopy K’s), the love of reading, the carefree attitude and the disregard for the approval of others. Every time I look into the deep chocolate brown pools centered within her bright eyes, I realize that I have given into conformity — that I have sacrificed my sense of true self.

Though that picture shows me who I used to be and what I have become, it also serves as a reminder to be myself no matter where I am and who I am with. I am persuaded by my younger self to prioritize my own happiness over others’ opinions. In an increasingly mainstream world, the ghost of my old laughter is the distant echo of who I want to be, often hidden among other echoes of insecurity and uncertainty.

W.J.T Mitchell was correct in assuming that we often personify photos — in fact, seeing my younger self influences me to retain my bona fide persona and to break out of the shell I have taken shelter in. My only hope is that one day the porcelain mask obscuring my freedom is destroyed, and I will be able to view the world again through my childlike lens.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The Truth About Young Marriage

Different doesn't mean wrong.

When I was a kid, I had an exact picture in my mind of what my life was going to look like. I was definitely not the kind of girl who would get married young, before the age of 25, at least.

And let me tell you, I was just as judgmental as that sentence sounds.

I could not wrap my head around people making life-long commitments before they even had an established life. It’s not my fault that I thought this way, because the majority opinion about young marriage in today’s society is not a supportive one. Over the years, it has become the norm to put off marriage until you have an education and an established career. Basically, this means you put off marriage until you learn how to be an adult, instead of using marriage as a foundation to launch into adulthood.

When young couples get married, people will assume that you are having a baby, and they will say that you’re throwing your life away — it’s inevitable.

It’s safe to say that my perspective changed once I signed my marriage certificate at the age of 18. Although marriage is not always easy and getting married at such a young age definitely sets you up for some extra challenges, there is something to be said about entering into marriage and adulthood at the same time.

SEE ALSO: Finding A Husband In College

Getting married young does not mean giving up your dreams. It means having someone dream your dreams with you. When you get lost along the way, and your dreams and goals seem out of reach, it’s having someone there to point you in the right direction and show you the way back. Despite what people are going to tell you, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on all the experiences life has to offer. It simply means that you get to share all of these great adventures with the person you love most in the world.

And trust me, there is nothing better than that. It doesn’t mean that you are already grown up, it means that you have someone to grow with.

You have someone to stick with you through anything from college classes and changing bodies to negative bank account balances.

You have someone to sit on your used furniture with and talk about what you want to do and who you want to be someday.

Then, when someday comes, you get to look back on all of that and realize what a blessing it is to watch someone grow. Even after just one year of marriage, I look back and I am incredibly proud of my husband. I’m proud of the person he has become, and I’m proud of what we have accomplished together. I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives have in store for us.

“You can drive at 16, go to war at 18, drink at 21, and retire at 65. So who can say what age you have to be to find your one true love?" — One Tree Hill
Cover Image Credit: Sara Donnelli Photography

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