These past few weeks have been…amazing, honestly. I’ve slowly been making little changes in my life to increase my happiness and sense of peace this semester, after being lonely and sad and confused last semester. I got lost, I think, in the midst of moving off-campus and being away from home for basically 18 months. I’m finding myself again.
For example, even though it bugs me still that no one ever really asks me to do anything, and I have to plan activities first, I’ve been doing it. I ask friends to go to the mall with me or just go get frozen yogurt on Friday nights. I spent only probably 1 or 2 days of Spring Break alone. The rest of the 9 days I was off on adventures around the island, hiking and snorkeling or at least hanging out with friends, laughing and drinking wine and watching Doctor Who. I gathered a group of friends together to go get grilled cheese this past Friday on National Grilled Cheese Day. I try to seek out friends in the library in between classes and just generally talk to people more. If my one roommate who’s actually my friend is in the dining room when I’m cooking, I talk to her instead of being quiet.
These may all sound like trivial things, but they have been huge for me. I really do suffer from social anxiety, and anxiety in general. Social interactions don’t always come easily for me. I’m an introvert, so I can easily get overstimulated by crowds. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like people. On the contrary, I love people. Spending time with friends fills my heart and reminds me of just how loved and special I am.
I also found out on April 1st that I was one of only 100 or so recipients of the Class of 2013 Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship from NOAA, which…well, really is a huge deal. It takes a lot of financial worries off of my shoulders, for one thing. But it also is going to offer me numerous wonderful opportunities, working with NOAA, and an internship next summer working on a project at one of the facilities. I honestly was not expecting to get the scholarship, and I am still in humbled awe two weeks later. I’m still not sure it’s real, even though I just sent them my official signed acceptance. Maybe by the time the orientation week comes around in May I’ll finally believe it’s real?
Okay, and i generally don’t like to brag, but my parents keep telling me it’s okay. And my friends as well. I guess I get embarrassed sometimes worrying that people will think that I think I’m better than them. Which, as a longtime sufferer of anorexia and anxiety and self-doubt, is the opposite of how I think. But anyway. After I got the acceptance, they e-mailed me with some of the comments the reviewers made on my scholarship application, and I’d just like to share a few of those:
Reviewer 1: Your essay cogently describes your career goals and how they relate to NOAA’s mission. Your academic coursework is outstanding. This application is one of the strongest this reviewer has seen in her years of reviewing Hollings Scholarship applicants. As you prepare for your career in Marine Sciences, this reviewer hopes you will consider employment with NOAA.
Reviewer 2: It is refreshing to see such focus at an early stage. I encourage you to continue along this track to help the shark situation. Continue to make good impressions such as those you clearly made upon your recommendations and you will do well in career, which I hope includes NOAA!
Pretty amazing, no? Talk about a much needed confidence booster. Talk about words I can keep in my arsenal as tools against Ana when she tries to whisper harmful and mean words in my ear.
Also, recently, I’m about 85% sure I’ll be studying abroad in Australia next semester, so long as I get accepted o the university housing there and I obtain a visa okay. Yet another amazing opportunity.
All in all, life is good. I have a future. I’m excited. I’m happy. I have friends and family and professors who support me, helping me to continue to overcome my eating disorder and sometimes debilitating anxiety every single day. I will admit sometimes I’m still too much afraid of my future and everything that’s out there. Three years ago, I was dying—I didn’t think I had a future. And now I do. So many doors are open for me. I am thriving and I am living. And I am so grateful.
Now, to counter that, one of my roommates this past year has been continuously mean and bitchy (though I hate that word, there’s nothing better to use) to me this whole year for no real reason. Over winter break, I experienced my first real form of cyberbullying, when she sent me a series of very angry and irrational messages on Facebook while I was at home. At the time, I was really hurt. I was sad and confused and worried about what other people thought of me. Did everyone think the same things she did? Was there something really wrong with me? I was terrified to return to my apartment, with her and two other virtual strangers, though I did still have my one friendly roommate there. I was homesick and sad for the first month I was back in Hawaii.
Until I remembered I can decide how happy I am with myself. And, as I detailed above, I really have done so. Situations with said mean roommate never improved, and actually got worse if that’s possible.
On Friday, after a stupid spat over trash, she sent me yet another text message, with phrases calling me a bitch, how she never should have lived with me, etc. I vaguely read this over before heading out to dinner with friends, not really caring anymore. Later that night, I had a huge revelation: It doesn’t matter what she thinks of me. At this point, I am happy with myself and my friends and where my life is. I have countless friends, all across the country, from all walks of life, friends who have known and loved me for over 10 years. My family loves me. I am strong and free and wanted and unique. Truly, by constantly feeling the need to put me down to make her feel better about herself, she’s hurting herself more than she’s hurting me.
I don’t CARE what she thinks of me anymore. I don’t need her approval. I have my own approval, and the love and support of countless people all across the world.
This was huge for me. I try to not care what other people think of me, but sometimes I can’t help it. I seek out the approval of others, wanting to appear perfect and kind and such. This desire to please everyone certainly was a significant cause of my eating disorder and constant anxiety. I still do want love and friendship, but I know now I have that. I have friends who remind me every day every time I talk to them, how much they value me as a friend. And how much I value their kindness and friendship.
Bullying sucks. I dealt with it last year from roommate sand this year as well. But I don’t have to react to it. The universe is a wonderful place full of wonderful people. Humanity is good, by and large. And I just need to remember how much I am loved and how much I have. I am blessed with starlight and love and a future. That’s all that matters to me, really.
Ultimately, life is good. I love being alive, with friends and opportunities and love. I don’t think I will ever completely break free of my eating disorder or anxiety, but I am 1000x better and happier now than I was 2 and a half years ago. I never would’ve guessed this is where I’d be today.
But I am.
Have faith. Trust yourself. Trust the universe. Trust your family and friends. The world is beautiful, despite the sadness and losses. You are beautiful, and you can overcome. You are strong and filled with powerful light. Let that shine out the negativity from everywhere else.
I promise it’ll be worth it every step of the way.
Just some late night thoughts when I should be going to bed but am instead working on a lab due in 3 weeks.
I realized that almost no one I currently spend a lot of time with knows that just 2 and a half years ago, I was on my deathbed. That 3 years ago, I was slowly dying. And the few who do know my story weren’t there to see it, so they can’t really know how far I’ve come.
I’m not complaining, really. I’m glad I haven’t let my anorexia or my recovery define who I am today. But I do feel sometimes likely my eating disorder history puts a thin wall between me and other people, because it forever sits, cold and dark, in my heart. I’ve been places, thought things, that many people around me never have.
I miss my girls who walked through the chaos with me toward the light. I miss them and love them always, even from 3,000 miles away.
I love my life, for the most part. I’m not happy all the time, but I’m proud of the woman I have grown into. I love being alive, despite its miseries and loneliness. I am so glad I chose to walk away from the comfort of death in 2010. Even if this world contains pain and grief and loss, it also contains immeasurable beauty and love and hope. And I want to see as much of it as I can in my time. Dancing, singing, loving, laughing, free of the monster who caged me for so many long years.
How much am I losing because I’m afraid of what might happen if I really do live? How much are we all losing in our lives because we are afraid? What are we afraid of? Life? Love? Happiness? Success? The truth? The world? The future? Who we really are? How am I supposed to know who I was really meant to be?
Sharks thrash in the ocean,
open their jaws,
Dig their teeth Deep into the Fabric
of the Universe,
hoping to leave a Scar
upon the World.
Fireflies soar and Loop
through the Air—
caught by a Jar.
still their Wings flap on
that Light will Die soon
and yet to-night it Shines.
white Perfect clouds up Above
hold Rain and Storm
exist there High above Earth
with the Sun and Stars
who Welcome that storm
with Twinkling color and Light.
Gravity holds me down
keeps me from Joining you
from Joining those fireflies and clouds
from Truly feeling as the sharks do
Where is the End of the universe?
And blue water fills Deep blue Eyes
as Music floats over
the Heads of people Rushing by
Who do those deep Blue Eyes
Or some Stranger out there
We do not know.
Does it Matter?
that Stranger is as Important
and as Mystical
Dream Winds blow down the street
relaying the Remnants of Salty ocean Breeze
and I Reach out for a
hand that Isn’t there
As Rain falls outside that glass pane,
I open the Pages of the Past
the face I Dream of is not Among them
Where is your Hand in this Vast air?
How does one transfer Thoughts
across the Stars?
Do spirits dream?
Do those Sharks feel as I do?
Do fireflies Know love?
the Poet says,
“Nothing Gold Can Stay”
the Sun cannot stay
my Heart cannot stay
time, time Cannot stay
And yet, I Hope
I fall Asleep watching the Stars, in the Grass
And open my Eyes to the first golden Rays
Walk to my Room
Dreaming of You
Look in the Mirror, and
force my Eyes and that little Mouth to Smile
look Down at the chipped Polish on my nails,
and the Wrinkled purple Dress
Grab a Lone strand of green, green, green Grass
remember those Dream Winds
My life is Small
But you are important
and I am important,
I am Conscious, and I am Human
I am those Sharks, those Fireflies,
the Water-logged pages of the Past
So I move from the Mirror
walk Outside again
hold my Arms open to the Sky
People rush by, running but not Floating
And I know I look Ridiculous
But I am a shark, a firefly,
a Beacon of Light
And we all must Beat on,
even as the Waves crash us
Over and over and over Again
against the Sharp rocks of Shore
Reality is there for us,
But we Need not live in it Always.
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
I want to take a summer to travel around Alaska.<3
I love Reina so much. Her lyrics are so beautiful, and you can tell watching her sing that she feels strongly about everything she sings.
Also, in many confusing ways, this song connects to my relationship (?) with Nick.
I miss you. I love you. I feel you. <3
Donna is still one of my favorite companions. I love her honesty, her compassion, her lust for adventure. I like to think of myself as most similar to her, in the way I view life, myself, and the fears I have. I know a lot of people found her annoying, but I absolutely adored their storyline and EVERY SINGLE EPISODE with her.
That being said, I love Amy. And the new Doctor. And everything that’s happened since Donna’s story ended.
But Donna is lovely. Never forget. <3
Also, this song is definitely Donna’s song. :)
“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” -John Muir
My dearest Nick,
Happy Birthday. Today is your nineteenth birthday. Crazy to think how much we’ve grown up—from 5th grade to me sitting here in college, you flying up above. Time flies, doesn’t it? You know that more than anyone.
Today is both a hugely sad day and an infinitely wonderful day. Today, I go back and forth between wanting to cry for all the things we miss and smiling for all the things I remember. Because I truly miss you, every single day. It hurts to know you’re gone. I often still don’t understand why you were taken. But then I remember your beautiful light and spirit. Perhaps it was time for you, Nick, to live in that higher world, being the invincible light of a star. I’ll join you there one day. For now, I remember. I remember. And I’m grateful for having your spirit watching over me, my angel. I hope you know how much you’ve helped me these last two years. Even in spirit form, you live so much more fully than most of us ever do.
So I celebrate you. I miss you, and sometimes I still feel hopelessly sad. But mostly, mostly, I try to live to celebrate you and celebrate the beauty of life.
I’ve been remembering a lot, lately. Some days I just get a flash of your smile, hearing the sound of your laugh. Your soul travelling across galaxies and stars. And I remember laughing with you in Chemistry class, the ridiculous “items” you and Albert chose to bring to the picnic for McGunit. I remember always how you helped me in basketball practice. To most people, I was the shy and awkward nerd, but you genuinely wanted to help me, cheer me on. You always held this incredible joy inside you, from “Sparta” review games in class to the basketball court to the hallways, smiling at every person you saw. I don’t know if you know how amazing you are. It’s so hard for most people to feel that joy. You found it and lived it in sixteen short years. That beauty and spirit cannot die.
I remember, too, how you have brought people together. More, lately, I can remember your memorial. I remember holding Sarah’s hand and Joel’s hand, and just sobbing when Mrs. Pierce hugged me. All around, people were crying, for a life and a lovely person had been lost. All around, people were connecting, reminded of the beauty of you and the beauty of everything. Our hugs meant more that day than any other day. I remember the stories, how we laughed and cried, how you led your life each and every single day. And I remember feeling your spirit there in that room. You bring so many people together, still. And it’s beautiful.
Life’s hard Nick. But in those tough moments, I breathe in. I breathe you in. I know you’re there still, transferring your energy to me through the good and bad. Through the dark, I’ve come to feel the joy you did. I know life is beautiful, despite the miseries and tragedies. And I am able to be happy. Our souls do not die. The stars shine on. The ocean waves crash on the beach today as I pray to you. And I know you will never leave me.
A wise man once said, “We think we are invincible because we are.” And that is so true. You, Nick, are invincible. I am. The stars are. I am blessed to have known you.
Let’s celebrate that. I know you’re partying up there. I’m celebrating you in my own way, living and loving and dancing in the sea. I love you. I don’t know why I couldn’t say that when you were here, but I so do. Thank you, for showing me and reminding me of what really matters. You’re still alive, our souls travelling the same universe. We are infinite. Keep transferring your energy, and, Nick, give some to my mom if you can. She needs that energy.
I miss you. But I love you. Happy Birthday, Nick. Happy, happy birthday.
Margo Roth Spiegelman was a person, too. And I had never quite thought of her that way, not really; it was a failure of all of my previous imaginings. All along—not only since she left, but for a decade before—I had been imagining her without listening, without knowing that she made as a poor window as I did. And so I could not imagine her as a person who could feel fear, who could feel isolated in a roomful of people, who could be shy about her record collection because it was too personal to share. Someone who might read travel books to escape having to live in the town that so many people could escape to. Someone who—because no one thought she was a person—had no one to really talk to.
And all at once I knew how Margo Roth Spiegelman felt when she wasn’t being Margo Roth Spiegelman: she felt empty. She felt the unscaleable wall surrounding her. I thought of her asleep on the carpet with only that jagged sliver of sky above her. Maybe Margo felt comfortable there because Margo the person had lived like that all the time: in an abandoned room with blocked-out windows, the only light pouring in through holes in the roof. Yes. The fundamental mistake I had always made—that she had, in fairness, always led me to make—was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.
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