reflection

A Wallet in Manhattan

I recently had my wallet stolen. 

Getting your wallet stolen is probably one of the worst feelings in the world. It’s the sudden panic knowing you have to cancel your cards, the fear of not remembering how much cash or what cards you had in your wallet, and the wondering if you’ll ever get it back. Unfortunately for me, I was not so lucky to get it back — which is a true disappointment because the wallet itself was sentimental (an old friend had brought it back from Spain, and it had a cat on the front of it). 

I was in New York City (when I say that, everyone goes “ohhh”) in a cute little coffee shop on 7th avenue. I sat down in the corner and pulled out my laptop, hoping to get some work done before an interview I had west of midtown. 

As I was drinking my chai latte, I saw a woman from across the shop, and she had a huge price tag sticking out of her dress. Her dress was brand new, and she was walking around Manhattan with the price showing, definitely an embarrassing start to the day. 

I had to get up to get a packet of sugar anyway, so I pulled her aside and let her know it wasn’t cut, and if she needed scissors. Obviously, she didn’t even thank me and her reply was curt (insert comment like *that’s New York for you*). 

Disappointed that I wasn’t greeted with a thank you, I sat down back at my seat and went to grab my headphones out of my purse. As I dug around (it’s often extremely messy and packed with things like nose spray and bobby pins) I noticed the headphones weren’t there. And then I noticed my wallet wasn’t there. After I did the quick maybe-it’s-in-here-somewhere, I knew it had been stolen. 

…..

After an hour of panicking while I called my credit card company and my bank, and waited for the NYPD to show up (which they did four hours later and then it couldn’t even be reported because I wasn’t there…not like it matters because the man was probably halfway to 242nd street) I sat and thought about how stupid I had been for leaving my bag alone for a second. I blame my Pennsylvania-ness, after all, you could probably leave your baby somewhere and no one would steal it (not that I would recommend doing that at all, it’s still against the law even if you are in the burbs). 

The worst part about getting my wallet stolen was that I wondered about the “what-ifs.” If I had caught an earlier subway, maybe he wouldn’t have stolen my wallet. If I didn’t choose that cafe, maybe it would have been more crowded and I wouldn’t have stuck out. What if he had taken more than just my wallet and instead, took my whole purse and laptop and phone?

It’s obvious that I learned my lesson that day, but I also learned that I really do believe in everything happens for a reason. Of course there are things that happen that we can’t control and that we wish we could control.  Everyone needs something to keep them moving onward. For some, it’s fate or destiny, for others it’s a higher being. I just believe somehow my life will fall on the course that I want it to go on, and eventually, I will reach what I’ve been trying to reach. Along the way, there’s been a lot of what-ifs. 

***

Three days after I got my wallet stolen, I got a phone call. 

It was a job offer for a small media company on Long Island. They were offering me a position to become their online and social media editor. I had two weeks to pack up my Pennsylvania things and head to New York, the state I had so desperately been trying to move to, permanently (and the same state that I unfortunately had to lose my wallet in).

I’ve been seeing that sometimes you just need to wait for that moment. There is a moment where things fall into place, the stars align, you see a rainbow — all the magical stuff that comes with following your dreams and not giving up. That’s the short WordPress version, minus all the picture-perfect memes that talk about struggling before succeeding, shooting for the stars — the mumbo jumbo you share on Instagram. 

So I’ve been learning not to dwell on the what-ifs. What-ifs cause anxiety, what-ifs make you feel lost. Focus on the now and wait for the future.

And never, ever leave your bag alone in New York City.

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Too much Citalopram, not enough words

Neglecting my own personal writing has been something I have gotten used to over the past four years of my college career. Now graduated, I hear people talk about how they rarely write for fun anymore because work and families and daily life get in the way of writing for one’s own personal portfolio. 

I can’t let this happen to me — yet. Really, I shouldn’t ever let it happen. 

I freelance often, since I am in limbo, just having graduated college in May and job searching/interviewing in the meantime. I write for a variety of publications, including an online food magazine, a digital news outlet, as well as my university’s marketing and communications. Most of my day is spent writing for these publications, and when I’m not writing, I’m job searching. And when I’m not doing that, I’m taking pictures of my cat(s) and creating Instagram accounts for said cat(s) (see @zooeythetabby on Instagram). @Zooeythetabby

How can I possibly find the time to write for myself?

And if and when I sit down to even begin to write something “worthwhile,” I always end up sending things to the draft folder or scrapping it altogether. Who will read it? What will they think? Will they care?

These are the questions I ask myself, and then by the end, I decide not to write. 

I’m constantly battling with myself trying to figure out what it is that I should write because I have gotten to the point where I care so much about the words that people are reading. These words are coming out of my brain, and into the keyboard to some sort of blog post, magazine article, social media something-or-other. I write for multiple publications because I care about updating people on what is happening in the community. I transfer this mentality of who is seeing it, why are they caring, how is it news, how many clicks will I get…into my own personal writing (*if you write for news, you understand how I might feel). 

Everything becomes a measurement. Each sentence I type becomes judged…do I keep it? Does it make sense? What am I saying?

I recently started writing in a journal, just to get back into this feel of nonjudgmental writing and writing purely for the sake of “writing.” Journals are a symbol of this secret kept, this hideaway book stashed under pillows so our brothers won’t find it and read it. Each curly-gel-penned signature at the end of the post was this simple little sign off, like the journal was a person listening to our thoughts, understanding the words on paper. It’s so private, so innocent. 

My favorite journal was this spiral bound silver and shimmery square notebook. Hearts drawn with a name called “Keith” in the center dotted the inside of the back page, and gel penned dates were at the top of each page. 

I also remember writing in a password journal, which was an innovative piece of technology a 12-year-old could get her hands on [Looking back I realize how silly it was because all you had to do was pop the batteries out and you could get into the journal]

Journals give off this vibe that you’re talking to someone that will never judge you, interrupt you, give you looks, get distracted, or make you feel like you’re wasting its time. Then again, it is just a book bound together and it’s totally inanimate. It’s just this little safe haven where you can pour all your secrets into. 

Another reason I have neglected my blog and my personal writing is because towards the end of my college career, I found myself increasingly overwhelmed, and anything that wasn’t on the high priority to-do list was just not important. I found myself increasingly anxious, depressed, agitated, stressed…panicking…about my future. 

And it all makes sense, given a recent study by The New York Times, which pointed out that one in six college students will develop an anxiety disorder during their college career. The pressure to succeed and do well and become more than a statistic, it’s all too real and it’s all too much. 

quillpenI believe now that my issues had developed before college but increased around sophomore and junior year. Anxiety is something that I live with, along with several other members of my family, and it’s so hard to explain to people how debilitating it can be. People tell you to just breathe, do yoga, relax, don’t be so stressed. It’s not easy, and if it was, I’m assuming there would be more yoga instructors and less pharmaceuticals. 

Recognizing that I have/had depression has been eye opening, and I’ve found that once you talk to people about it, you find how many other people are going through the same thing. And from coming to terms with myself, who I am, and what I’m going through, and finding what I need to do to be “okay,” I’ve found that writing in a journal and writing finally for pleasure, is what I need to do. 

A friend who’s a nurse recently told me that when you talk to people, you’d be surprised how many are medicated [and how many should be]. It made me laugh but it also gave me some comfort. It also made me think that maybe sometimes, the feeling of pen against paper is all the therapy I need. Maybe it’s time to go back to being a writer that takes risks and makes mistakes, and stops worrying about who the story is going to reach. Maybe the person it needs to reach is the person writing it. 

Destination

I sit alone in a vacant train station, but its vacancy is only my perception. It is semi-crowded, yet I have this feeling that everyone seems to be far away from me. I try to occupy my mind, but the lingering smell of oiled tracks and trash that has yet to be emptied only adds to the lump in my throat. My iPod shuffles music, and I have the urge to turn it off because every song pulls his face into my mind.

I hope for my train to come on time, anything to get me off of the cold bench that I sit on alone. I’m surrounded by hand-holders, married couples, and young lovers. I avoid looking at them, and instead glance at the clock that seems to keep saying 12:47 p.m. There are billboards across the track that I begin to take notice of, and I realize I’m doing more than just surveying what is around me.

live fearlessThe advertisement I focus on is for affordable health coverage, emphasizing that if I have this insurance, I can “live fearless.” The point is obvious. I’m supposed to think that if I get this health insurance, I can surf the seas, jump off of cliffs, explore the world, or be as reckless as I possibly can. I can live fearless with nothing to worry about.

I realize how often I worry as I stare at this advertisement. I worry about this idea of being fearless. I worry about my life in two years, I worry about where my family will go, I worry about my friends and what road they take, I worry about money and grades and opening my heart to someone new.

I hate worrying, and I hate using expressions about the heart because it seems cliché. The heart is just an organ that beats and pumps blood and keeps us living. So frequently we talk about the heart in pain, the heart swelling, the heart flipping and turning, the heart growing warm, the heart feeling love, his sympathetic heart, her aching heart.

Their hearts beating.

Still waiting for the clock to turn to 1:16 p.m., I picture his face, again, in the window as his train started to pull away from where I stood. My heart feels like it’s breaking, I thought. If my heart feels like it’s breaking, then does that mean being with him is when it is whole? Does it mean my heart is complete when I am with him?

My train pulls up, interrupting the thoughts I had. I still do not know if I can be fearless, but perhaps with him in my life I can begin to have courage and forget about being afraid.

I sometimes wonder if I will find the answers I am looking for. But, in this moment, I am sure of one thing, and that is that I am ready for a new destination.

Embracing the Change

I haven’t posted in over a month. I always write to clear my mind, to make a point, to bring meaning to something in my own life or others. It’s painful knowing I have been neglecting my passion, a part of my life.

If I am being honest with myself, I have been afraid. I have logged on several times to this account, hoping that these feelings I have had will come out. I have been hoping to find the answers to questions that have been left for me figure out.

I don’t think I will ever have the answers to some of these questions. However, I have come to terms with one thing, and that is change is inevitable and no matter how hard I try, I cannot determine what the future has in store for me. My experiences over the last year, the last month, have changed me more than I could handle, but I think now I have an understanding of where I am in my life.

Where does that leave me? If I start back in the beginning of college, I realize how young, stupid, naive I was. This is not to say I didn’t have a good head on my shoulders, I really did. I worked so hard, knowing every hour spent studying was a dollar worth spending. I made relationships, kept relationships, broke relationships, experienced heartbreak, drama, and a whole lot of bullshit. I tried to add onto the person I wanted to be, the person I was becoming.

It’s so unbelievably hard to become “someone.” We all have this grand master plan that we shoot for, and we end up falling hard with disappointment. We want the perfect job, the perfect scores, the best GPA, great friends and the guy/girl of our dreams. We want this house and that car. We want to live in close proximity to a school so our kids are safe. We want some life that we don’t know if we can have.

I’ve realized dreams are something that should pinned on a bulletin board, tattooed on an arm, plastered on a wall. They should be engraved in our brains. At the same time, I have realized that these dreams or goals or whatever, shouldn’t stop you from taking a chance on something new, exciting, different or scary. I can still have goals, but I can also be a risk-taker, a go-getter, a spontaneous woman ready to live her life.

I had this plan that I would marry this guy. Everything was great, wonderful. We never fought, well we never would, but I would nag at things I wanted to change. And they never did change. They got better at times, but still these things that I wanted to change remained the same. That’s so unbelievably wrong of me to think I can change a person. You can’t change anyone. They can change themselves, but ultimately in the end, people will be who they want to be. If I could only say every racing thought I had in that short span of time when I broke his heart, maybe he could understand. Maybe he could not hate me, his mom could stop telling everyone at work that I broke up with him out of the blue. It’s not my fault….I didn’t mean to change. How can you get a person to not change? I’m sorry for hurting him. I’m sorry I couldn’t be sad, that I moved on so quickly. I had this unrealistic idea that we would graduate, I would work in the city, so would he, and then we would live together, followed by marriage. Seriously. What the hell was I thinking? I sound like a 13 year old girl cutting pictures out of magazines of bridal dresses and cakes saying, “This is what my life is going to be like.” No one knows what life is like, it just happens. So, if I had to tell him anything, which I promised him I would (and I never did out of more fear of hurting him, and the sheer fact that I don’t think I owe him anything), I would say I am sorry for becoming a different person. This is the best thing to happen to us because if we continued walking down this comfortable, no-thrills path, I surely would regret the person you are and the person I had become. You have given me a special time in my life, one for which I am grateful of, and I will never forget it.

There’s love that falls apart in relationships and then there’s love that falls apart in friendships. I can’t say which I hate most, losing a relationship or losing a friendship. Friends are intertwined in our lives, at least they should be. The worst part in any relationship is giving 110% and receiving less than that. I always try and do my best to be a good friend. I don’t even know what a good friend is, and I don’t know if there needs to be a specific definition. I do know that I don’t regret leaving behind any of my friendships. I refuse to be walked on, have no self-respect, and be treated like a fool. I am willing to go to the ends of the Earth for people, and I sometimes think they wouldn’t even go to edge of the water for me. I was supposed to be in a special time of my one friend’s life. I tried so hard to mend the cracks in our relationship, some created by me and some created by her (although she’s so perfect she won’t admit she did anything wrong). All my effort was overlooked, all my cries for attention buried under an enormous mound of lies and laziness. Thank you, for teaching me to stand up for myself, something I don’t know if I ever will fully be able to do on my own. If it wasn’t for my mom, and the actual friends I had, I would have stood next to you and listened to you say, “I do,” and have to put on a happy face, knowing I am filler, an object to fill a space that you couldn’t care less about. You didn’t care about me, and in fact if I wouldn’t have tried to text, Facebook, email….whatever….you would have just let it fade. I’m sorry that I ruined your night, but you ruined countless of mine and made me think I was a worthless friend, and a worthless individual. I’d rather be self-centered than a liar.

Then I had this crazy rebellious stage. They say college is all about the “college experience,” and you know what? They are right. Kids need to get out there (being smart about it) and drink, have sex, do drugs, run around, stay up late, eat bad food–all of it. I think we all have this feeling, this urge, to just do something. You don’t know what it is until you are in the moment. I don’t even know what this “something” is. I just know that when you feel it, you just want to be so spontaneous you couldn’t care less about the outcome or the time of day. You just want to flirt and be with everyone you come in contact with, or at least that’s how I felt. I guess I didn’t want to be alone.

That’s when I met him. He had his “eye” on me for a span of time. A couple dates, a couple kisses, some late-night flirtatious texting and I thought maybe, this could be something. Then I realized he wasn’t going to treat me how I wanted to be treated, and what’s the point of seeing someone who doesn’t make the fireworks go off? Reminds me, I still need to text him.

When I think about sparks, I think about this guy. It’s a crazy love story, almost taken out of a Nicholas Sparks book or maybe just a cheesy rom-com on a Saturday night. He’s ridiculous. If I could manufacture the ideal guy, it would be him. He’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in someone, and more. We met while working in the same town, and thank goodness he decided to have some courage that day. Every time I pass that corner I think about him. It’s crazy, it’s just a corner! Now he’s back in my life. Let me tell you, this time I can be honest about my feelings for you. I wish I wouldn’t have held back. I hope that you and I can make this work. I don’t care about distance, labels, time.

Honestly, I want to see you be brave. Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.”*

I know you’ve had bad experiences with a situation like this, but maybe one day I can change your mind. In the meantime I’m willing to do almost anything for you, because a connection like this is what everyone is searching for, despite how cliche it sounds, I think it’s that whole “missing puzzle piece” thing that everyone talks about. My music professor said, “Don’t be with someone you love, be with someone you can’t live without.” I think that fits for us.

Not every learning experience I have had has come from something bad. I’ve met a few amazing, inspiring, funny, and easy to get along with people so far this year. One young woman, who I hope will be my friend long after college, has opened my eyes. She just has the same morals, same ideas, same goals and dreams as I do. I don’t know what I would have done during this time of change, this time of confusion, without her. And as always, my mom has been a huge help and a huge supporter of everything I do. She can play devil’s advocate pretty well, but more often than not, she is always on my side. I am thankful to have another close friend, who may not be close in age, but she is someone so close and dear to me, I cannot imagine life without her. She’s just a great example of someone who has struggled in life, but continues to give and help even though she needs it more than I do.

I’ve heard people say change is good, and I’ve heard people being afraid of change. I can say now, that I can embrace anything that comes my way. I’m ready to be daring, different, spontaneous, loving, mindful, and at peace with myself and the people around me. Much like the journey to discovering myself, I am constantly traveling down new and exciting paths that tests my understanding and love of the written word. Without writing, there is no meaning. Without change, there is no future.

‘Leaving a Mark’ on This Blank Page

Although much of my complaints is work or school work, I have to say this semester is the best one yet. My Theory of Writing course is showing me how to become a more expressive writer, critical thinker, and excel at reading between the lines.

We finished Blankets, an illustrated novel by Craig Thompson. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants to read something with images, think deeply, cry a little, and feel every emotion in the book (a bit ironic, right?) Long story short (again), this book is Thompson’s narration of his life, his struggles with his art, and the story of first love and disconnected families.

One moment stood out to me the most in this book, and relates mostly to current situations in my life is the following, “Even a mistake is better than nothing.” The context is that one of the characters wanted Thompson to paint for her and he was afraid he would mess up.

What stands out the most in that quote is how bold it is. While it may be in a completely different context, I still took this moment to heart. Even a mistake is better than nothing, wow, is all I could think.

We have this idea that making mistakes is such a terrible thing. But, aren’t the mistakes we make a way to make ourselves better? There’s sayings like, “Have no regrets,” and “Everything happens for a reason,” because they are true. There have been so many mistakes and regrets I have, but I take them with me and make meaning from them, much like the novel Blankets discusses.

Throughout high school I had this idea that the people I was close friends with would stay true forever. At that moment where I graduated, the only true thing I was thinking about was how the sun was directly in my eyes; giving me a migraine, but I also was thinking about how this is it. That was the moment I never had to see the people who wronged me, the people who hated me, or the people who I loved.

It sounds like such a depressing way to look at graduation, but I disliked high school so strongly. I had always been a different kind of girl, someone who wanted to stand out rather than fit in, and we all know how disconcerned people are to differences. College is a growing experience for me, and I highly recommend everyone try it once in their life. In all seriousness, it has been a time where I realized who I want to be. All I do is try and reach that goal, and at the moment, I’m doing a pretty darn good job. But, the person who I am doesn’t start and stop with me, it’s the people I have encountered and spent my life with that have shaped me.

I have found, much like Craig Thompson, that even though friendships and relationships may not last forever, the mark they have on us never truly leaves. Thompson falls in love with a girl in the novel, and even though they are young and need to discover themselves, I can’t help but feel something for them. The fact that they both make such an impact on each other, even being a teenager, is astounding. The idea that someone can make such a powerful impact on your life is true to my life. Sometimes all you want is for them to stay and be with you, but eventually you come to a point when you realize they can’t.

There have been those friends who have come and gone and have meant nothing to me, and there have been those friends who have stayed but then drifted away (college does this, I have found). There have also been those friends who still remain, and always will.

It wasn’t until very recently, I discovered that finding yourself means making sacrifices with these relationships. It’s a sad realization, cruel and bitter, but it’s also something that I needed to bring to my attention. I start my real story here, and it’s much to my satisfaction rather than all of you reading.

The falling out I recently had with someone was certainly no easy one. This person has meant more to me than any other person on this planet. She had been there through every failure, every mistake, every heartbreak, every detail of my life; she knows it. Likewise, I have been there for her every step of the way.

We have watched people come and go, laughing, saying, “That’ll never be us.” But, if there is one thing I have learned from heartbreak it is you can never predict it. You want life to be perfect, candy-coated, but in reality no one plans out the bad things that may happen.

I never thought I would have a feeling where our friendship wasn’t worth it. I never thought I would think about her constantly, miss her, wish she would text or call, wish she would just reach out. I never thought I would stop trying to connect. I knew the conversation would be mundane, the same old, “What have you been up to?” The person she was becoming and the person I have become do not match anymore. I think as harsh as it may be, if she were reading, I have grown and learned and become who I want to be and I think she is still discovering that. I know there is someone who will change her, make her who she needs to be. Or maybe she won’t ever find out.

There are these moments in our life where we can’t breathe, and it feels like we can’t do anything but sit and stare at the wall. All the memories come swirling back to you in these moments, when you want to forget but you can’t. A break up, a falling out, a death; you won’t ever forget them. You can paint over the memories but there is still that tiny spot in your mind that reminds you it’s more than a memory, it existed.

I’ve always had a hard time saying I’m sorry, or admitting my mistakes. I know I’m stubborn and I hate to be told I am wrong. But, I refuse to sacrifice what I believe in for someone else and their satisfaction. I know I have said things in my past and present that I regret. I am so sorry to everyone. I am sorry that I never went to your graduation party. I am sorry I didn’t want to go on a date with you. I am sorry you didn’t love me. I am sorry you turned out you needed a therapist and I couldn’t help you. I am sorry that we couldn’t be what we dreamed of being. I am sorry I said those mean things to you. I am sorry we are over.

Life is meaningless without mistakes. I know she thinks I made a mistake. I know she thinks that I was the worst friend anyone can have, and I know for awhile, maybe forever, she will think that. I can only thank her for the memories. Thank you, for all that you have given me and all that you will continue to give me. I will miss and always love you, like the sister you were to me. You can’t ever understand what I went through, my inner-termoil, because you never listened. It is all my fault that I couldn’t try harder to reach out, that I gave up. I wish I hadn’t given up, but it’s what I needed to do. I hope that you can understand one day.

If I could speak to her, although I think I will never be given the chance, there are so many things I would say. I could lash out and yell at her for making me look like a villain, when I know who is at fault. I know that’s what I want to do, but I think now I would say to her, if you have to be mad, be mad not at me but at the fact that we need to change. We can’t be the same person we were at 14. We will never be the same. We thought that change was an okay thing to accept into our lives, but the truth is it’s a hard concept. You can’t stop it, and you can’t predict it. We can only live from it.

I want to continue to grow, to make meaning of this life I have been given. I can’t take everyone with me on this journey. I’m constantly on this journey to find myself, and even though I think I have reached a high point in my life, I know I will never end the journey. I know I will continue to make mistakes, but I have accepted it’s a natural part of life, of living.

 

“How satisfying is it to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement–no matter how temporary.” –Craig Thompson, Blankets 

There is Only One “You”

Sometimes I wonder what I would define as friendship. I just look at what I value in all of my closest friends. A true friend is there for you no matter what happens. Every bump in the road, they are right there beside you. They don’t judge you for who you are, or who you are becoming.

Over time, we all will change, and it’s those true friends that will stand by you through these tough times. I know that through the end of college I will become a completely different person, and I hope that I still will share good relationships with the people that mean the most to me.

I’ve realized that close friends can even do things wrong. The smallest thing can upset you in the biggest way. But, if you truly care about a person, you will not throw away the relationship. You will only try that much harder to make it better.

I know that I have said things to my friends that they may have disagreed with, or even started a fight over. I can only hope that one day they will see I have meant no harm and only have tried to make myself a better friend. I’ve found that holding things inside only makes you an angry and bitter person. It doesn’t help the relationship, only hurts it.

But sometimes telling people how you really feel is equally as bad. Sometimes when you tell someone how you really feel, whether it be for something big or small, can cause more problems than good things.

With my new year’s resolution of caring about myself and my feelings, I think that I may be misunderstood by someone close to me. I only hope that one day they can see the reason for what I have said or done. Taking care of your feelings should come first, because there is only one “you.”

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.