What It's Like to Lose Yourself... And Then Climb Right Back Up
You don't always notice little things until they become big things, but the important thing is doing something about it
I have always felt a great love for life.
Here's the thing: Life after high school is strange. You're told it's going to be all fun, that you're going to discover who you are and make big changes that will impact your life forever. But no one ever tells you just how confusing it all is.
I can very clearly remember the day my senior class took our group picture. I was wearing a classic Me outfit, a black velvet mini skirt and a tank top that read "NEW YORK CITY" on the front. As my friends as I were walking off the bleachers, I went on and on about how excited I was for high school to finally end so I could get the hell out of dodge and head off to college. I can so clearly in my head remember them saying, "Don't you want to savor the last days of high school?" No, I really didn't. I was so ready for it all to end. I was ready for my life to begin.
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad high school is over. I love the new freedoms I have acquired and I love the experiences I've had since I graduated. But I will say the one thing I miss is the simplicity, and the fact that I had a strong sense of self back then.
Not going straight to college after high school is stranger than I can explain. While your friends are off continuing their education and hanging on to their youth, you may feel as though you've suddenly gone straight from 18 to 30 and need to buckle down and get your life figured out. I had panic attacks for weeks, thinking my life was over and that I was going to end up a disappointment after all of my hard work in high school. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't snap out of it. I felt like I wasn't myself anymore. I looked in the mirror and quite literally could not recognize myself. I had chopped off my long hair early that summer, I was wearing my makeup differently, and I found I had lost a certain spark in my eyes. I was empty.
Flash forward from 2015 to the Spring of 2018, and I was finally starting to find myself once again. I was finding joy in the things I had once abandoned, I was working hard to finance my education at community college, and I had started dating my current boyfriend, who has been such a huge help the last year. I began looking at myself in the mirror again and seeing not a lost 18 year old, but a happy 21 year old. For the first time in many years, I was seeing a future for myself that didn't include hardship and disappointment.
I also made active attempts to better myself and my life after those close to me mentioned how they thought I didn't have enough respect for myself. And they were right; it was almost as if I felt as though I didn't deserve respect, as if I didn't deserve anything because I hadn't gone to college the "normal way." I don't know how these thoughts were put in my head and I don't know why I entertained them, but now I was actively trying to eradicate them from my mind. I began exercising regularly, eating more and more often, quit a job that was taking me absolutely nowhere, and began working at a cute coffee shop that is much more my speed. Within this time my family and I also moved, which was a huge source of rejuvenation. Things were starting to seem happier, like a constant state of a golden summer afternoon.
Now, in the late Spring of 2019 at 22 years old, I can say that rediscovering yourself once you've experienced losing your spark at the hands of misfortune is both a scary and exciting adventure. For privacy sake I haven't discussed everything that went on between the late summer of 2015 and now, but trust me when I say it's been a lot. Everyday I find myself becoming more and more proud of the steps I've taken to better myself and my life. Maybe it's all been a part of growing up, or maybe this has been something I've done all on my own. Whatever the case, it's all been for the best.