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.
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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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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Intimidation Isn't Always What It Seems

Always ask yourself this question when feeling intimidated...

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A few months ago, I read something online that really stuck with me. I don't remember who said it, or where it came from, so my apologies for not accurately crediting the genius who spoke these words, but it said this:

"Am I actually intimidating, or are you just intimidated?"

Growing up, you constantly find yourself in situations where you feel scared or uncomfortable. I don't think there's one person on the planet that can say that they didn't feel intimidated at one point or another growing up. Maybe it was by the "popular kids" or by a teacher or a supervisor. So many people can make you feel a certain way and it can be scary when you're a child growing up. Maybe you felt intimidated because they were bullies or they were a strong personality.

But after reading this quote, I started to think about every time in my life that I felt intimidated. Walking into a new job, taking a chance on writing, seeing a group of girls in the cafeteria - whatever it was, I thought of it. And my perspective completely changed.

It wasn't necessarily that the people who I was encountering or the situation I was entering was scary. In fact, most times, those people turned out to be incredibly welcoming and nice, or that situation was nothing but spectacular, but at that moment, I was completely intimidated. It was something new and the unknown can always be scary. But looking back, it wasn't that those situations and people were intimidating - it was that I was intimidated.

Being intimidated is completely natural. It'd be crazy to say 'hey, don't be intimidated' and expect people to actually feel comfortable. But it's something to think about moving forward when you find yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or even scared. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and let that timidness get the best of you but think of that question and realize that it's not necessarily the situation - sometimes it's you letting the situation get the best of you.

At the end of the day, people are just people. Everyone has boogers and everyone had good and bad days and to be honest, the people who others find intimidating are usually the ones who are just better at putting up a front. They're the ones who find having a hard exterior is easier than being vulnerable and letting others in. Don't let those people scare you. They're usually fighting a battle that they're taking out on the people around them - and that shouldn't scare you.

"Am I actually intimidating, or are you just intimidated?"

Think about it, feel it, let it wash over you, and don't let those feelings get the best of you. Most of the best things in life are just past that line outside of your comfort zone.

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