Life is a Highway: My Journey of Self Discovery

This is a personal reflective essay I wrote for my English class this year.  I was pretty pleased with the grade I got (an A!) and decided to share it with bloggers, and my close friends.  Hope you enjoy reading it (disclaimer: It’s pretty long!)

            My whole life I have had experiences on roads.  It could be a summer evening in a back alley with friends, a highway drive to the mall, the slow walk to high school, or a dirt path that leads to a park.  I have spent my life traveling on different paths, with different people.  Even in the movies I can relate to characters that are trying to find themselves down this road of finding one selves.  In Pixar’s Cars, the main character Lightning McQueen goes from being a hot-shot racecar driver, to having to help a small town with kind folk.  He starts off on the fast track, and has to travel down a much simpler road.  Along the way he meets a friend named Mator, who is a truck that just wants to have fun.  McQueen also falls in love with a car named Sally, who teaches him to be your own person, and not always worry about fame and fortune.  I look at my life as a journey down different paths.  McQueen and I have many things in common even though he is a fictional character.  One thing is for sure, we spend our lives trying to figure out who we are, and we are constantly on that road.

***

            My heart pounded like hooves in a stampede.  I peeled away the adhesive on the crisp, white envelope and pulled out a bulky letter.  Don’t get upset, you know what it will say.  It says no, no, no.  As I read, time stopped.  There was no way that I was conscious; I must have been in a dream.  But I kept on reading, and realized the purpose of the letter.  I was accepted.

***

            From the day I opened the acceptance letter, to every train ride, my mother was there for me every step of the way.  My attendance to college was not only a commitment to myself, but it was also a commitment to her.  I had to be willing to keep my job back home, and to make sure I saved up enough money each month to afford the commute to Delaware Valley College.  That was my commitment.  My mother on the other hand had to be willing to spend countless hours dealing with the financial aid websites and offices, scholarship websites, and FAFSA forms.  I have heard financial aid people say college students should do this on their own, but what young adult knows finances that well?  I am sure most college students do not handle all of their college funds themselves.

It’s hard for a family to afford college for their kids nowadays.  Not to mention hard for me as well.  The college work load is hard enough on its own, and adding a six-day-a-week-part-time-job is unbelievable.  My mother has helped me get through that, however.  She will make my dinner so I can have something to take to work, or she will stop at WaWa so I can pump caffeine into my system.  She’s done everything for me and I would not be in school without her.  A lot of kids that cannot afford to go to college end up going to a community college for a few years, so they can save up some money.  While I think that this is a good idea, I desperately fell in love with Del Val and wanted to go there as soon as possible.  My mother knows I would have been heartbroken if they told me I could not go to Del Val just yet.  She did not have the opportunity to go to college because her parents did not support her.  They did not get to go to college, so why should she?  Bitter, yes.  The right thing?  No.  My mother surely had the brains, just not the ability to do anything with them.  That is why she spends so much time trying to find reasonable loans for me to take out, and tries her best to be able to put me through college.  She wants me to have the life she could not have.

People focus on the bad things they experience in life, when they should focus on all the positive things that happen.  My mother has to constantly be happier for other people, where sometimes she wants to be happy herself.  The greatest joy she sees is her children getting things in life that she never would, or will.  Although it may be hard for my family, I know that I should be happy that I at least have the opportunity to go to college.  While I may not get to go on trips, or shop every day, I know that I am becoming a more responsible adult managing my funding for better usage.  My mother has helped me realize that you cannot give up, even when it seems like everything in your life is an obstacle.  She has taught me to look at the positive things in life, which has made me persevere even in my toughest moments.  She will always be there for me, and she has helped me travel down the right path.  I can see a sign that says, “Driven Students: Head This Way.”  I know what turn I am making today.

***

            I was not always on the right path.  Sometimes as a young kid I got involved with the wrong crowd.  I was never a delinquent, but I did some typical acts of a disobedient child.  I had a friend who would trick me into doing things that I was not supposed to.  One time when we went to go get our nails done, she said we would have to walk down this road, past a WaWa.  My mother told me not to go past the WaWa because it was too busy and dangerous.  My friend convinced me it was not that far down, and that we would not get in trouble.  Of course, the nail salon was farther down the road than I was allowed, and my parents were not happy.  I felt ashamed as I looked down at my brightly lacquered red nails.  I had disappointed my mother, and she was the last one I wanted to hurt.  From then on I made sure I asked my parents if going down a certain street was acceptable.  I did not want to end up on the wrong road, in a heap of trouble.

***

            Entering high school, I merged into a different group of friends.  They acted silly and laughed a lot, just like me.  However, I still did not have that “best friend” like a lot of teenagers did.  I was in English class one day, and scanned the room to look at the students I would be associating myself with for the next few months.  That is when I met that “best friend,” and her name is Courtney.  Nobody calls her that; she likes to be called Court.  That is just one of the many things that we have similar.  We both have nicknames, like the color purple, and prefer Chinese food even though it makes us sick.  We fit that stereotypical best friend status.  She has been in my life for three years, and I do not think she will ever go away.  Unlike most of my friends, Court has been there for everything I have experienced.  Every fight with a parent, every boy-crush that failed, every wardrobe malfunction, and anything else in-between.  Court is just a girl that wants to have fun, much like Mator is in the movie Cars.  Mator is a happy-go-lucky car that has a great sense of humor and just wants to have a good time.  Court is very similar to Mator.  I however, can be compared to McQueen.  Before McQueen met Mator, he hung out with hot-shot cars that cared more about money than they did friendship.  Before I met Court, I cared about what others thought and how I dressed, instead of worrying about having a fun time.  McQueen and I both needed to meet our best friends and travel down a different path.  We needed something new. Besides being best friends, Court and I are also dreamers.  I want to have a career that is difficult to get into, and so does she.  While I am a writer, and she a musician, we both experience similar let-downs and disappointments in life.  People are always telling us our music and writing isn’t good enough, and that are dreams are too far-fetched.  But we are always pushing forward, and we never give up.  We are each other’s support systems.

***

            Court went out of her way to read my posts on my blog, and even set up an account so she could read them in her email account.  That encouraged me the most because I knew some people actually cared about what I was writing.  While most friends briefly scrolled through the website, Court thoroughly read it and told others about it.  Thanks to her, I have over 4,000 views on my page.  It may be a small amount, but it is nice to know that someone cares about something I love.  Of course I return the favor and support her with her music career.  She has always supported me and made me believe in myself.  She helped me travel down this path of perseverance, and taught me to never give up.  I am still on that path.

As I continue down the road, trying to figure out who I am supposed to be, Court is there with me every step of the way.  She has always been the more confident one in our duet, and I always looked up to her in that way.  I would get jealous (in a non-serious way) that she would have guys flock to her, practically begging for her number.  She radiates confidence, and people are attracted to that.  However, I was the sheep dog, and the guys ran away from me like cattle in a field.  It took a while for me to be the lucky one.

***

            I got a job at a library back in May 2010, the summer before my senior year of high school.  I threw on some yoga pants, and a shirt, and trekked off to work down the road, in the hot June heat.  Who gets excited for work on a Friday?  I certainly was not on that day.

***

            Little did I know that Friday would be the best shift of my life, because that day I had met my current boyfriend Colin.  As I look back on the day we met, I think of how I looked in those casual clothes.  I was always the kind of girl to have perfectly coordinated outfits, and to make sure my face and hair looked “perfect.”  Colin did not need all of that.  He fell in love with me from my natural beauty and my personality.  Colin helped strengthen that confidence that I had longed to have.

As a young adolescent, I seldom cared what others thought of me.  I loved who I was.  I loved how I snorted when I laughed, my one tooth that was too far back, and how I was the smallest kid in my grade.  But with the transition to high school, I found kids were more interested in being “cool,” then having a personality.  I was always the girl who was too outspoken, and too full of life.  I remember laughing with a guy and he put his finger over my mouth to shush me, and told me I was talking too much.  I became focused on what others thought of me, and I lost sight of who I was becoming.  I was on the road that was leading to my individuality, but I took a back road, and got lost.  Becoming Colin’s girlfriend, and best friend, allowed me to love myself again.  He taught me that we are our own unique person, and if we try to change that we are not ourselves.  He knew I was destined to be something great, I just needed to see it for myself.  I should accept how I look, and embrace it.  I cannot be somebody I see in a magazine, or on the streets.  I can only be myself, and that is what I am trying to figure out throughout my years.  Who am I supposed to be?

Everyone has that one person in their life that they can go to at any time of the day, and know that they will always be there for them.  I am lucky because I have three people in my life that will always be there for me, and have been from the start.  I do believe that we go through life traveling on roads.  As we are young, the roads are dirt paths and back alleys, where we are carefree and can go wherever way we choose.  As we get older, we see the forks in the road.  Do I choose left, or right?  We have to make those decisions that could be right or wrong, and could render us in the wrong direction.   We may have to turn around, and start over, but it is all a part of life.  In our adult lives, we travel down busy highways, filled with confusing exit signs and colorful street signs.  From the time I headed out on that dirt road, to my current state headed on the highway, I realize that I have turned into a young woman who is continuing to find her individuality.  I am shooting for my dream job, no matter what people say to me.  I will persevere through my life even though I am faced with many obstacles every day.  I will love myself for who I am, and who I am becoming.  The road can end wherever you want it to, or you can continue traveling for miles.  You will always find out new things about yourself, and your friends and family.  Go ahead and bring your loved ones on the road with you.

I know I will.

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8 comments

  1. madi… seriously, you are such a great writer! i’m glad to be one of the people who can keep you strog and fight for your dreams, even through the bumps! you have such a talent, because i wouldn’t ever read anyone else’s english paper… only yours for two reasons: 1. you are my best friend, obvs but 2. because i know it’s going to be interesting and worth my time!
    i’m so proud of your growth and style that you’ve adapted, it lures people in and grabs their attention.. at least mine.. which is hard to grab q:
    but i loved this and if you hadn’t gotten an A on it, i would have to all this teach up and tell him what’s really good.
    love you! ❤

    1. Court, thanks for reading, as always. It makes me happy when people are there for me every step of the way. It’s hard to find people like you. I hope people read this and realize how lucky I am to have a great person like you in my life! I’m glad you read it, I know how much you dread homework assignments! Remember, live with a smile 🙂

  2. Well that sure was inspiring! and you said said I’m the one doing the inspiring. I’m glad you’re doing so well with basically everything and you’re so focused when it comes to accomplishing your dreams. I know you can find the right road and do it!

    1. Colin, I am glad I can finally be inspiring! It is hard at times when everything seems like an obstacle, but I am making my dreams come true, bit by bit! I am glad that my fairy tale dreams of having a knight in shining armor at my side, and he always reads and comments on my posts ❤

  3. Madi this was really awesome!! what an inspiring and of course incredibly well written piece! This was really a great read for today/tonight haha

    1. Thank you miss Jess! Such a flattering comment. Glad I can inspire, the essay just felt good to write. Kind of like a diary for others to read. Hope it kept you awake 🙂

  4. i love this!!!! and the colin part is so inspiring, how he really taught you to love yourself again, it’s exactly how i feel with brendan 🙂 i love all your posts madi! i can’t wait to read the next one!!! miss you girl!

    1. Thank you! I try to bring him up occasionally in my blogs, because he really is an awesome guy. He did allow me to be confident, and I love that. Brendan is a great guy and I wouldn’t doubt that he is the same way! I miss you as well, and keep on reading!

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