- Christina Harris ’14
- Hometown: Cleveland, OH
- Major: Psychology
Mount Union continues to upgrade and get better. It is diverse and is growing in awareness of all different kinds of situations and lifestyles.
RoY Entry 1:
What do you want to be when you grow up? What are your plans after high school? These were possibly the two most annoying questions I received while I was in high school, and probably the two most common.
After high school all I wanted to do was get on with life. Meet new people; get away from the place that had tied me down throughout my childhood. All I really wanted to do was to live. I remember dreaming about living in Australia, hot air ballooning around the world, and skydiving with the entire world beneath me. I have more dreams than anyone else I know, I have a list of things that I want to do; like run a marathon, help save someone’s life, swim with a sea turtle, and skydive. Each thing on my list means something special to me. I feel that life is all about experiencing as much as possible. We do not have unlimited time on this earth, so might as well make the most of it.
So when it came time to decide what I was going to do with my life after high school I ran into personal conflict. I could go to the military to see, and experience things that nothing else could offer. I could start traveling right away, and start living life like the classic movies. Or I could go to college and hold off the dreams for a couple years, educate myself, and learn skills I could not anywhere else.
I chose the path where I could continue my education, a path where I could learn as much as I want, or as little as I want. I learned that education is up to me! My mom will not always stand over my shoulder, it is up to me to learn, and more importantly it is up to me to find the desire to learn. I decided to go to college to give myself opportunities that will not available be available without an education. I am studying exercise science so I can help others. I chose college so life is not as much a mystery, more a game where you are in control of the outcome.
Goals, and ambitions are extremely important. Goals give us something to look forward to, something to dream about. Ambitions like living in Australia, hot air ballooning over the world, and skydiving with the entire world beneath me. When I make goals, they are always difficult and extreme. And although some may be hard to accomplish, all of them are possible.
I have come to realize that most people are afraid. Most people are afraid of failure, afraid to fail because it is worse than not even trying. Personally I will not give in.
Why not live a little while we are alive. When we dream about our lives 15 years from now, no one ever dreams of sitting inside a cubical, spending time in jail, or being homeless. People do no dream about failing, or being just adequate. We dream about success, about creating the next great invention, or flying to space. I dream about lying on the beach, changing the way third world countries live, and most importantly I dream about being happy. We can all dream, but there are only some of us who are willing to make our dreams come true.
RoY Entry 2:
The experiences that I faced when I was in middle school, and in high school, caused me to become a little depressed. It all started when my grandpa passed away on October 23, 2006 when I was the 8th grade. Let me just tell you about me and my grandpa’s relationship. Back when I was able to walk, I would go over to my grandma and grandpa’s house almost every Saturday morning to have breakfast with them. Since we lived in the country, my house and my grandma and grandpa’s house were pretty close to each other.
As I got older I spent more and more time with my grandpa. He taught me everything when it comes to life, and how to be a hard worker to live in the society. Most kids around my age were probably playing video games, or playing with their toys, but as for me I was the complete opposite. Instead, me and my grandpa would be out in the fields planting hundreds of tomato pants, corn, green beans, lettuce, potatoes, onions, and pumpkins; you name it we grew it. Basically, it all started in his green house that he built. When winter started we would be in the green house for hours planting seeds for the spring and summer crops. What I do remember, and always will, about those damn tomato plants is that they are just a pain to grow; the reason is that as the plants get bigger you have to do what we called “Steaking Em.” You would have to have a five foot tall, or whatever height, wooden steak that you would have to pound in the ground by hand with sledgehammer. Now there were machines out there to do it for you, but since my grandpa was “old school” he wanted to do it the hard way, by pounding them in with a hammer. At that time I was probably about 6 or 7 years old, my grandpa and I, just the two of us, put in over 2500 tomato plants. After all that’s done then you have to tie the plants to the steak so the branches wouldn’t be in the way, for when you have to till the garden.
My first driving lessons and experiences came at a very young age. During this time my grandpa and I would be out working in the hot summer weather and he would always tell me: “Jr go get me a couple brewskis.” I would hop in the Kawasaki mule and drive all the way back to the barn get him one beer, then give it to him, then drive it all the way back to barn again get him another beer. I was very clever about wanting to drive, and I knew my grandpa wanted something to drink, so I would do this every time he asked me.
Age 10 or maybe 11 is where my “true” driving skills and experience came into play I went from driving the mule, to the lawnmower, operating a backhoe, front loader, all the way from backing up twelve-foot long trailer. I was pretty much running the farm on my own at a young age, which was a lot of responsibility for being just a kid. During my prime of growing up and learning was at that time around when my grandma had passed away from cancer at the age of 77. I was in the 6thgrade when this happened, and not only was it hard on me, but my dad, his sister, and my grandpa.
After my grandma passed away I spent more time with my grandpa, because he needed someone to be there for him, and for someone who he could to talk to. We started to do more and more throughout the winter season, because we couldn’t do anything really outside except for plowing off the snow. We started getting into project from building birdhouses and making tables. Eighth grade came around two years after my grandma passed away, and something was different about my grandpa. He was very sad all the time, and started to drink a lot more. He was drunk every single night, and he would smoke almost three packs of cigarettes a day. That was his lowest point in life was when he really didn’t care if he would pass away. I remember my grandpa and I we were out working one day he was on the backhoe all of sudden he stopped and started leaning towards his right hand side. Chuck, my grandpa’s other worker, was holding him so he couldn’t fall off the tractor and it looked like he had a serious muscle spasm; I was very confused what was going on.
9thgrade came along two months later, and he met a woman named Celeste. I had a funny feeling about her, just like something wasn’t right. For my grandpa I was extremely happy for him, because he was happy. My grandpa took Celeste up to Canada so he could visit his two daughters and introduce her to them, and they even said they didn’t like her. Celeste was 50 years old, she was very rude, disrespectful, a snob, gold digger, and she never told us why her last husband passed away.
During his visit in Canada he had another muscle spasm attack, but this time his daughters told him to go to the hospital. When he came home from Canada he went straight to the hospital, where the doctors did some testing. They found out he had an orange size tumor in his head. Immediately they removed tumor, and the doctors told us that was the cause of him having a muscle spasms, and the best option was for him to go through chemotherapy. He became brittle and Celeste became more of a bitch towards our family. She convinced my grandpa to buy her a new car, new bedroom set, jewelry, even new four wheelers for her grand kids. I felt hurt and betrayed because her grand kids were always there, and anytime I wanted to visit my grandpa she would ways say: “Oh… he’s sleeping” in a snobbish tone. Chuck and I took over the farm, and we would always talk about how sketchy Celeste was. Chuck was telling me how Celeste told my grandpa to quit drinking, or she would leave him.
My grandpa was an alcoholic, and he couldn’t quit drinking overnight. On October 22, 2006, it was a Sunday I remember, and everyone told my grandpa “We don’t like Celeste.” He was asking me about Celeste, how life was going, and what would happened if he’s not here anymore. He said to me, “Life isn’t easy. The world will beat you up when your down, you’ve got to get back up and finish and keep moving forward never give up just keep fighting.” After he said that he walked over gave me a hug and said “Buddies for life.”
Later that night when my grandpa was sleeping Celeste packed up all of her belongings and left him because he couldn’t stop drinking. Monday morning Chuck and my grandpa went to the bank so he could withdraw all the money out of his account, only to find out that Celeste withdrew all the money from the account. Chuck said that my grandpa started to shake badly, and then started crying. When Chuck got home from work he went over to my grandpa’s house and saw him in his chair watching TV. Chuck rang doorbell several times, but got no response. He called 911, and when the paramedics arrived they said that he passed away roughly 10 minutes ago before. His coffee pot was still on, and his coffee was still warm.
When I found out I went into a deep depression because my grandpa was pretty much a second dad to me. To this day it still hurts, especially now since he passed away. We still do a garden every year just for my grandpa. To this day my family and I agreed that my grandpa died from a broken heart.
The funeral for my grandpa came, and I remember just seeing my grandpa lay there in the casket – it felt unreal. What was worse was that Celeste didn’t even show up to the funereal – showing what kind of a person she really is. When it was time for my grandpa to go the last thing I said to him was “buddies for life.”
The quote that reminds me of my grandpa the most is in the movie Rocky Balboa “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life, but if ain’t about how hard you ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” For my advice, go to seek help and don’t be afraid to have someone help you out. Don’t keep anything in, because it’s better to get things off your chest and keep moving forward.
RoY Entry 3:
The biggest love-hate relationship one will ever experience will be the years spent in middle school through college, while peeking at the time spent in high school. Looking back I am proud yet upset about what I had dealt with during these times. If someone else had been observing me on the outside I would have appeared as a good student, amazing athlete, and a great friend and family member. But if they would have come up to me and ask how I was doing on a mental level they might have been able to pick up on signs that I was screaming out internally for help.
The first memories that come to mind are those I had in late middle school when I finally started having friends I got along with and enjoyed. I fit in so well with them due to common likes and interests. The only problem was that my parents did not approve of any of them. This caused major tension between my family and me while also hurting my now stronger friendships. The more I tried to hang out with them the more my parents would involve me in going to extracurricular activities as well as church, putting more distance between me and my friends. This gave me a huge sense of alienation between my friends while making me start to hate the things I used to enjoy because I wanted to be out with my friends. After a few years of juggling different groups of friends between the different seasons I was in made it hard for me to really feel accepted no matter who I was with.
Not having a strong support system in any area of my life is the biggest upset. Internalizing all of my pain and confusion led me into rollercoaster ride with depression being medicated by spurts of partying and mischief. This area is where I would have to say the best advice ever given to me would have to be to have a strong social support system, or at least someone you can talk to. After an attempt at suicide my friend’s mother told me that I should look into counseling or at least just writing in a journal during times like this. This advice is what saved my life. Giving me something to do that would take all the negative thoughts I was having and putting them somewhere else other than my head gave me the best stress relief I could ever ask for. It also helped me to think through and make more logical sense out of what was happening in my life instead of just relying on the crazy things that my mind would just make up.
Overall a support system is what can make or break someone when going through some of the things I have lived with. Nothing can make it 100 percent better but it does make life more enjoyable and easier to live in.
RoY Entry 4:
Growing up in Middle School, I was very shy. I had friends, but I was never self-confident. I never really had any “guy” friends; I was friends with mostly all girls. Some girly-girls, some tom-boys. I was a mix between both, because I liked to play with Barbie, but then also get down in the mud and play football and stuff with a few of the guys in our neighborhood.
I was in Band and Choir since Fifth grade. I continued to be in these groups up through high school too. Choir was never as good as an experience as Band was for me. Being in Band was the absolute best decision I ever made in High School. I was horribly shy at first, and I thought I sucked playing trumpet the first couple years. As time passed, I grew into a confident, bubbly and outgoing person. I made many friends, and I even met my current boyfriend. I grew to also become a very talented Trumpet player. I had the honor to play Taps at the Memorial Day Ceremony last year at the Marlboro Cemetery in Marlboro, Ohio, and I’ve received awards like The Lexington Rutitarian Award (my name is on a plaque in the high school), the Instrumentalist Award, and many Solo and Ensemble placements also. I loved Band so much and I put my heart and soul into it. If you do that with anything you want to do, you will get more than you expected out of it, guaranteed!
Throughout Middle School and High School I had a very supportive family. Almost all of them came to every Football Game, Band Competition, Choir Performance, Band Concert, etc. If I had issues with anything at school or with anything else, they would try their best to help me through it. We never went through any economic hardships during those years.
I was an average student. I never failed any classes, but I was (and still am) awful at Math. It is my biggest weakness in school. I honestly want to avoid it in my career at all costs. My ambition is to get married and raise a family. I came to college to find a career that I love so that I’d be happy going to work every day. I want to be able to support a family financially. I hope that I find that career soon.
If I could give you any piece of advice about high school, it would be to SLOW DOWNNNN and just enjoy yourself. Don’t let people bother you, because there will always be one person who wants to hurt you in some way, but you are strong enough to get through it. Find something you love to do (school appropriate please) haha. Do that hobby with your whole heart and soul! If you are a person that wants a boyfriend REALLY BAD, let me tell you, I never had a boyfriend till my senior year of High School. My first and current boyfriend has been my best friend for almost four years now, and I never even thought we would date! Girls, your significant other could be whom you least expect! Give it time; don’t waste your time with people who don’t treat you right. Find a guy who loves you for you, and cares about you. You will find him. It just takes time! So, go get your license, drive a car, be with friends, do what you love, spend time with your grandparents, BE HAPPYYY(: Good luck girls!!
RoY Entry 5:
“Life is a Sandpit of Sadness, Grab the Branches of Happiness”
To have a good and fulfilling life, it is not going to be easy, nor simple, nor all fun. Life is not meant to be easy, simple, or fun. Life is about being well off, life is about becoming a functional member of society, and life is about appreciating the few brief and fleeting moments of fun that we do get to enjoy. There are only a few select people in the far corners of the world who are going to be able to enjoy all the benefits of life without having to put any work and effort into it, and to better prepare yourself, your friends, and anyone around you for the future, it’s a safe bet to assume that you are part of the majority of people that are going to have to go through life the old hard way.
Nothing in life comes without merit and hard work. I am a big believer in that statement. I grew up in a household that while on the outside seemed completely normal by society’s standards, was actually quite hectic and abnormal. I grew up with an aggressive controlling mother and an uninvolved father. I grew up under the notion that if I did not do better than everyone else, I would be seen as a failure by not only my family, but also by society. I did not receive much praise for any of the good things that I did do, for example, in school, like ranking at the top of my class or always being better; it was simply expected. My point is that in life, there are things that you should be complimented and appreciated for that you simply will not be complimented and appreciated for. However, that does not mean you should not attempt to always do the best you can, you really should. Even though I was pushed beyond the limits of what one would call “simple parental motivation” from time to time, I’m still thankful for all the pushing and goals that were set for me a child, because now I am able to do very well in college.
Don’t expect life to be a continuous ride of happiness and joy. If you do, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and humiliation. I quickly learned this in high school, and unlike some of my peers who were oblivious to this ideal, the realization that life is not all fun helped get me through some of the darkest parts of my life. For example, that aforementioned mother who forced me to do well in school through any means necessary? She ended up passing away due to a heart attack caused by stress. My aforementioned uninvolved father? He worked two jobs every single day of my high school life, resulting in one lonely me coming home every day to an empty house. Yes, I was sad, but then I realized that life is going to full of more things that make me sad and depressed than things that will make me happy. This realization, and life lesson, is an excellent one, because once you realize this sad truth, you come to appreciate every tiny good thing that happens in your life.
So I suppose I really only have a few good lessons and rules to live life by. One is to enjoy even the tiniest bits of happiness that you get in life, because those are stars that will shine in the darkest and saddest of nights. The second rule is that you will not always get appreciation and thanks for all the good things you do in life, so make sure that you stick by those that do give you appreciation, because they are the ones that actually care. The final rule would be to always remember that life is not fair, that life will not fix your problems for you, and that life is more bad and annoying than good and delightful. I hope that by reading this, I’ve opened your eyes to the unfairness of the world, and have given you an understanding of what you need to do to help overcome that unfairness. Good luck!
RoY Entry 6:
Although I have been lucky enough to have many good things happen to me in this life, we all have our ups and downs. Life, the idea seems so simple. But, when sitting down and thinking about all the things that people try to accomplish in the one life, the one chance that they get, it gets a bit more complicated. People will come and go, but life won’t stop for anyone. When looking at my life, and all the people that have come and gone, and thinking about all the things that have happened, I’m glad that life doesn’t stop. With all this said, I’m here to tell you that it will get better and it will go on.
Growing up in small town USA, everything that you did, said, or even thought about was front page news the next day. I learned this at a young age and was always aware of it. Right or wrong, things happen that you don’t want people to know about, and most of the time, people will find out. Although, people will judge you every day, for everything you do, I am here to tell you that there is one thing in this life that is certain. Biologically, you can’t live forever. Your time will come to an end, and when that time comes are you going to be able to take your last breath with the satisfaction that you did everything you could to be happy and live your life to the fullest?
In my teenage years I was spending a lot of time with my grandmother, obviously as an elderly individual, she was not in the best condition health wise. She was a renal – care patient (meaning that she had zero kidney function) and sat in a dialysis center three days a week, for five hour sessions each day so that a machine could replace the function of her kidneys. But, with everything she went through, she never stopped working, and she never stopped living. She always preached to me the importance of being happy and would tell me not to waste my one shot at living this life. After her passing, I picked up her idea, and I have lived every single day since with the goal of making happiness my first and foremost goal. Her ability to relate everyday things to being happy was something that amazed me, and inspired me to be what I am today. Every day, as a college student, or a small town young adult trying to work and pay for college, I meet adversity. But with the words that I learned from Betty, I will never become submissive to what others think of me. Above my head while I sleep is a post-it note that states two simple words. Be Happy…. I wake up every morning thinking that today is another day to be happy, and spread happiness in every way possible.
Recently in life, I had a friend going through some extreme relationship changes. When thinking about ways that I could help, the only thing I could think of was to tell her, over and over again, was that there is nothing more important than being happy. Follow your heart, swallow your tears, and be happy. Today, although things were tough at one point, she is making improvements, and getting better every day. I challenge you, to take this idea, the idea of finding pure happiness inside of you. Not what other people think you should do, and not what society thinks you should do, but what makes you happy on the inside. At 20 years old, I look at the rest of my life like a blank canvas, there is nothing that I know for sure, and nothing that I want to have laid out in a path. When the time comes, happiness will be my guide. No opinion of others will overcome that, and I refuse to let it. So, all in all, no matter the amount of trouble going on right now, think to yourself that you can win, you can be happy. And the moment that you realize these things, you will be happy. Finally and most importantly, when you lay your head down for the last time, taking that last breath, you will be able to think to yourself that you lived your life the way that you wanted, and the way that you wanted was something that made you happy.
RoY Entry 7:
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to save lives and help people who are sick. Doctors were people I looked up to and always admired for being courageous and strong. My parents are both nurses and I grew up learning quite a bit about the medical field. I spent a lot of time in nursing homes visiting with the elderly and always spending lots of time watching what my parents and their co-workers did. It really takes a skilled, fearless person to go through some of the daily struggles that members of the medical field have to go through.
As I began to develop and grow throughout high school my ambition was to become a doctor and be exactly like the doctors I could remember watching on T.V. as I was a youngster. When career day came up I knew that I wanted to go and shadow an Anesthesiologist. This is the person who oversees the anesthesia process and is a very critical part of the surgical team. My experience from career day pushed me even father into wanting to become a doctor. It was such a rewarding experience.
Graduation day came and I knew it was time to move on and pursue my dreams of becoming a doctor. I entered Mount Union and declared as a Pre-Med major. As my freshman year started I began to take on some of my courses for my major, it wasn’t long before I realized that I was in way over my head. Biology and chemistry soon became my worst nightmares. I absolutely hated everything and anything that dealt with both of these topics. Now, when you come to this realization its best that it happens early on. I was glad that I realized this before I got to deep into the course work and still had to time to find what else really interested me.
Even though it took me so long to realize that becoming a doctor wasn’t going to be in the cards for me, it gave me the opportunity to open up my eyes to other fields that I was interested in.
After taking multiple courses in business and speaking closely with my advisor I decided that I would declare Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management as my major. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my course work and a found that this was the best route for me choose.
My best advice to anyone who isn’t sure of what they want to pursue when they get older is to try and experience as many different course topics as possible. Try to find exactly what your interested in and don’t settle for one area if you think you wont graduate on time. Take your time and take college as a serious and fun time, make sure that your schooling comes first and your fun comes second. This is the path to your newest adventure and although it may be long and stressful, it will be completely worth it when you walk across the stage at graduation. Don’t let others influence who you are. Do what interests you the most, join clubs and organizations. Not only do these look great on resumes, but they are also great opportunities to meet new people and express yourself.
Still today, even though I may not be saving lives in the emergency room, or diagnosing sicknesses in the future, I know that through my daily actions that I am still helping people a little each day.
RoY Entry 8:
“If I Could Talk to my Younger Self”
At the age of 16 I thought I had it all, a license and car, a boyfriend, a starting spot on both the varsity volleyball and basketball teams. Looking back on my high school experience I wish I would have known some things I know now.
If I could talk to my younger self I would first tell myself to that my life doesn’t need to revolve around sports. When I was 16 I thought I would play college basketball for sure. I loved playing so much that’s mostly all I thought about and did. Basketball taught me many things like how to work on a team and get along with others, Oh yeah and kept me in very good shape, but I would tell that young girl to spend more time being a kid. Once I got out of high school I had to grow up a lot, and now I don’t like I enjoyed being an adolescent.
Secondly, I would tell my younger self to be herself. Not everyone is ever going to like everyone but having self confidence in who you are, even if it is different than anyone else, is one of the best qualities to have in my opinion. When children are younger they don’t worry about what the other children are wearing or look like, they just want to have fun and play. But somewhere as we age people start to notice people who are different, and learn how to become self-conscious in a negative way. When I was in junior high school I had a pair of pink salmon color silk pants. Now I remember my mother buying these pants for me because I loved them so much. I didn’t care that they were way different or that my twin sister and friends said they were super ugly, I thought they were the coolest pants. I think back and know that kids probably made fun of me behind my back because they were really weird pants, but at the time I didn’t care. Once I got to high school something changed and I became totally aware of what the popular students were doing or wearing and I just really wanted to fit in. I wouldn’t have ever worn pink silk pants because that wasn’t the in thing. I wish my younger self could’ve known that the coolest thing to do was to be her quirky outgoing self and not worry if everyone was going to like or accept her.
Thirdly, I would tell myself to forget about boys. I had the same boyfriend for three of my four years of high school. I do believe that adolescents can be in love and my high school sweetheart was my first love. I think that teenagers are learning so much about whom they are and who or want they want to be that relationships sometimes get in the way. I spent so much time trying to be who my boyfriend wanted me to be and what I thought he wanted that I lost myself a little. He had such a great impact on my future, and not in the best way, that I just could’ve never foreseen. If I could go talk to my younger self I would tell her to wait till she was older and ready to fall in love.
Fourthly, I would tell my younger self to love and cherish my family more. It wasn’t until I was a few weeks into Army basic training that I really realized how much my family truly meant to me. The only contact I got from anybody in basic training was through the mail. I wrote to my family every single day, which took away from the four to five hours of sleep that I was given. I did this because the letters that I received from my family truly uplifted my spirits and are what gave the support to tough it out until graduation. My twin sister and I have always shared a special bond; however, we have never got along. As teenagers we hated each other and would fight over everything and anything. Once I was left her for the first time I felt like a piece of me was gone and I couldn’t stand not getting to talk to her. After being away from my family I could really understand how much I need them and how much they are my biggest supporters. My parents have supported me throughout my military training, my schooling, and most recently becoming a mother and moving back in with them. I remember adults always telling me that family will always be there for you when your best friends grow up and move away and this is true. I wish I could tell that sometimes disrespectful and unappreciative young girl to be nice to her family.
Lastly, I would tell my younger self to persevere. I never actually quit anything like a sports team or activity that I was participating; however, I think I didn’t give things 100 percent or do as best I could. Currently, I am a full-time college student, an Army reservist, I work part-time, and most importantly I am a mother. My life is super like a whirl wind right now and I am just taking it day by day. I’ve been out of high school for five years now and my life definitely hasn’t gone as I had planned. I would’ve expected to be a college graduate working somewhere as a dental hygienist living on my own. However, I’ve taken a much unexpected route where I’ve transferred colleges due to a failure in a program. I joined the military to help pay for school. In doing so, I have missed several semesters of school for training. This would include jumping out of airplanes. I’ve changed majors three times now and have realized the majority of the people I graduated with have completed college and I have a few more years to go. As a new mother I have added another hump in my life to overcome and I am determined that eventually I will graduate college, and pursue dental school. I know I have perseverance now because I think most people would quit going to school in order to manage juggling everything else in life. But I would tell my younger self that when life gets hard and has rough patches to buckle down and don’t give up. Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy.
RoY Entry 9:
When it Hits the Fan: Guidelines to Finding Happiness Part I
Most people have had a moment in life when things just flat out suck. It happens and it's a part of life. What really sucks is that sometimes these situations have a way of piling up on top of each other. I'm 21, so I've dealt with a lot of struggles throughout middle school and high school. Let me stop and tell you something right now, the day that I left high school my life improved significantly. I'm not going to lie to you and tell you that I'm great at helping others. I'll be honest with you, I myself have a hard time talking about my problems. That being said, I do know of some strategies that have helped me through some of the toughest times in my life.
I'm going to give you a piece of advice that I myself don't follow. Talking to people about your problems helps immensely. Best friends are good for this and even parents (yes, your parents) can offer you a different perspective on things.
Getting through those tough times in life is much easier when you have something to look forward to. It doesn't have to be anything major, it can be something as simple as looking forward to the weekend. I understand, somewhat at least, that some situations require more than just something to look forward to.
Finding happiness, often times, requires one to have the right mindset. I was wound so tightly, in high school, that I let every little problem I faced bother me to the point that I'd explode. I've learned throughout my 21 years on earth that it's extremely important to take things one step at a time. Think through problems analytically. For example: One of my better friends is a lesbian and I took a lot of heat for it. People assumed that since she is a homosexual, that I too was one. The problem I faced, was that I felt as if I had to choose between continuing my friendship or giving into peer pressure and deserting her. What did I do? I thought about what friendship really meant and how I would feel if one of my friends left me due to something that I could not control. Essentially I told people to shove it (not literally) and let them think whatever they wanted to. While it's important to take peoples' opinions into consideration, sometimes people can be irrational.
You have to accept the fact that life is difficult. It's not a walk in the park, as some movies would have you believe, and hard work is required. Set small goals that you can easily achieve, you'll be surprised at how much confidence you can gain from one small accomplishment. Remember that no one is free from facing adversity and that sometimes, you just can't get your way. Next time, I'll give you a more in depth view at some of my own personal experiences, more specifically the struggle for finding identity in a world where social norms are forced on you from every direction.
RoY Entry 10:
I’d have to say that I had a different childhood than some kids. My mom and Dad divorced before I was even a year old. I was kind of lucky in the fact that I never really knew what it was like having both my mom and dad at home, before they divorced. The hardest part of having my parents divorced was that I didn’t get the normal every other weekend visitation some kids do, I only saw my dad twice a year. When my parents divorced my dad moved back to his hometown, Ash, North Carolina. Most kids would be thrilled to spend their entire summer vacation and a week over Christmas break in NC, but I was not. I hated having to leave my family for almost 3 months and I was never allowed to play sports because of visitation. It also really stunk having to get up at 4am the day after Christmas to catch a plane to go see my dad. I know I might sound ungrateful, because there are many children who don’t ever see their dads, but as a young child I never felt like my dad was really my dad.
Like I said before I only saw my dad twice a year, other than that I never talked to him, he never came to Ohio to see me, the only time he would contact me was when he made the plane reservations to see me. It was almost like every summer being shipped off to some stranger’s house to live for the summer. I really disliked all of this but I felt like I had no choice in going to see my dad, I wanted to play softball, but I didn’t want to make my dad upset.
When I was about 3 or 4 my mom started dating my now step dad. They got married when I was about 6 years old. Soon after that my mom had my little brother. Of course things were different now that I wasn’t the only child, but it was really different for me. I felt like an outsider, I felt like my mom started a new family, that I wasn’t a part of. As the years went on I gained 3 younger siblings making me the oldest of 5 children.
I can remember when the oldest of my younger siblings asked why I went away every summer. My mom and dad had never had to explain this before. It was a struggle after that because my brother no longer saw me as his sister because we had different dads. On that same note, my step dad never really treated me the same as the other kids. When I was older I felt like I was his servant. Being the oldest of many children, with a large age gap in between us, I took on much of the house hold responsibilities. Both my mom and step dad worked nights and weekends, and when I was old enough I began to watch my younger siblings. Along with babysitting after school, I had an extensive cleaning list. I was to wash dishes, clean the counters, sweep and mop the floors, clean the living rooms, and do laundry. I know that that does not sound too bad but at the time I was about 11 years old, was watching my 3 year old brother and my infant brother, only about 5 months old. My mom says that I was really mature for my age, but I just thought she liked free labor.
Things definitely got more interesting as I got older. High school was probably when things got to be the worst. I wasn’t allowed to go hang out with my friends after school, I had to babysit, and it was never an option. When I was old enough to get a job, I had to. Both my mom and step dad believed that when you became old enough to work you needed a job, and you had to pay for the things you wanted. Now don’t get me wrong they still fed me and didn’t charge me rent, but things like new school clothes and new school shoes, and any expenses for school, I had to pay myself.
To this day I still go and visit my dad and family in North Carolina, but only about once a year if I am lucky. I have learned to appreciate then time that I did spend with my dad when I was younger, even though I didn’t agree with it back then. I don’t see my dad nearly as much as I would like to, life has just started going by so fast. As a result of seeing my dad so little, we really haven’t bonded like a father and daughter should. We get along, but I feel like we don’t share the same bond that my step dad and I now share that I have gone to college.
Looking back on all of this I can see a lot of the value in the things I didn’t necessarily agree with. The excessive responsibility taught me at a young age to be accountable and responsible. Also having to have my own job and earn my own money gave me a real appreciation for hard work and also taught me to save. Now as a college student I can see the full value in the life lessons that my parents were trying to teach me. Also, the relationship between my stepdad and me has improved so much; we get along and even have realized we are more similar than we like to admit. I am not saying that every parent should lay the same responsibilities on their children, but I am saying that when we are young we tend to not see the value of our parents lessons. Just know that while you don’t understand now, the lessons that you will learn are going to be life long and worthwhile.
RoY Entry 11:
After looking back on my teenage years I can see now what a huge impact peers had on me. My brother was 4 years older than me so hanging out with an older crowd wasn’t anything new to me. But now when I look back, it probably wasn’t the greatest thing for me. I was always younger so impressing them was something I was always trying to do. I would do things that weren’t always for my best interest. I would skip school, and lie to my parents pretty often about whom I was with and where I was going. I picked up negative habits from the older crowd, along with a strong “I don’t care” attitude.
When growing up I feel that peers are the most influential group of people around you. You want to try to impress everyone, be better than everyone, do something that everyone is doing, or stand out and try and accomplish something that no one else has tried. Not only were my brother and his friends older by age, but by maturity level as well. A couple years sure does a lot for the mind.
I look back now and realize that if I hadn’t hung out with older people, I would have gone through a more calm life. I wouldn’t have gotten in the trouble I did, or lost the relationship that I had with my parents. As you know, everything eventually catches up to you, and that it did. My parents finally became aware of what was going on and immediately my parents lost ALL trust in me. I’m now a senior in college and still have trust issues with my parents. It’s something that takes a lifetime to build and only a second to lose. And let me tell you, it only takes LONGER to re-build that trust relationship. Along with losing that trust, my parents were disappointed in me because if my actions and poor decisions. Having a parent disappointed in you is the ultimate worst feeling ever.
The other problem that I faced was once my “friends” graduated I had no one left in school that I hung out with. All the people in my grade, I hadn’t talked to in years, and they had no interest in the lifestyle I was leading. I had to start all over with them because we had grown so far apart once we got into high school since I had run with the older crowd until they were gone and moved on.
I feel that staying within your age group is very important. You are all on the same level in all aspects of life. Not only is everyone on the same level, but there are age limits put on things for a good reason. You aren’t allowed to drink till you are 21 because drinking before being fully developed stunts your mental development. This goes along with any other mind-altering substance as well. Every other drug is illegal because of the severity of damage that can be done.
RoY Entry 12:
I was always perfect. At least it was what the rest of the world thought about me. And yet, I’m gay. Not that being gay is something imperfect. I believe that it is just a part of me. Attraction towards some certain people is only natural. I came out like how you learn to speak. None of us can possibly remember how it started. When we are aware of the fact, it’s already there. That’s how a 15 year-old girl knew she was in love – her first love. But it was not until 5 years later that she had a real romantic relationship – being with someone she truly loved. And just for your curiosity, it ended fairly quickly after that. However, it was not the point. The point was that I was out there for the world to look at and I was not afraid any more. I was no longer afraid to be not good enough or to be imperfect.
Maybe imperfection is the way the world should be. To be imperfect is to be normal. And being gay is not all of me. It is just different because the majority of people are heterosexual. It is so different and so unique that it shadows everything else. But I’m not just gay. I’m also pretty, confident, kind, stubborn and a control freak. I like classical music. I play the piano and the violin even though I’m not so good. I enjoy the time just messing around by myself and trying little by little to make a sound out of my violin. I like cooking too because my dream is to open my own restaurant, just like my grandmother. I remembered she told me once that food is just like people. No matter who invented the food, what it is called, which country it comes from, who made it or what it looks like, in the end, what matters the most is what presented in the plate in front of others. If it is just bad, there would be no excuse. Good people are also like good food. One doesn’t need a fancy name to be loved.
And I like sports too, all kinds of sports. That must be from my brother. He was 7 year older than me, a very athletic young man. I remembered following him everywhere when he played sports and how I loved the freshly-cut grass smell on the soccer field and the cold ice breeze of each hockey game. But tennis was his favorite. And mine too. It seemed to me like when you are on the court by yourself – no one around to rely on – no teammate – only opponent you can become stronger. You don’t have any other choice. You don’t just play a game. You fight. I guess that’s how aggressive we both are. It was the summer after my 13thbirthday that my brother passed away in a car accident. It sounds like so long ago but for me it was just like yesterday. My parents were defeated. He was their hope, their pride. The perfect picture that they put everything into build was crashed. And there was no one to blame. Who was to blame? It was just a death that silence everyone – the pain tore us apart. Since then, we have never watched tennis again. I came to hate the grass smell and even ice skates. I never skated again.
After that, I became my parents’ only hope. This was also the time I became perfect. I didn’t have any other choice. I was like the tennis player that was all by myself now. The responsibility to cover for my brother’s life pressured me to be perfect. I had to work harder, achieve more in order to fill up the hole my brother left in my parents’ hearts. The expectation was so high that it got harder to breath. At some point I didn’t know what I wanted anymore because it was the least important thing any way. I lived for both of us so that the grief in my parents could be reduced. I did everything that could possibly make them proud. I denied every part of me that was different than social standards. I couldn’t be another odd child. For them, I was perfect. And I ought to be. It was my responsibility until the day I found out I would never be enough. I would never be enough to fill up my brother’s place. We are unique in our own way, for better or worse. With all the power I have, I cannot heal any one’s pain. Maybe it wasn’t just for my parents. I was hiding in the “perfect” shell so no one would ever see me. I was scared that the true me was not good enough and that I would be another disappointing child. It was the fear that stop me from being free, being goofy, doing the things I wanted, with the people I loved – being happy.
My first girlfriend once told me that being happy does not mean everything is perfect, it means you’ve decided to see beyond the imperfections. No one will ever be perfect and I’m not an exception. Although we were never that kind of perfect match for each other, she was the first one who really accepted me for who I am, the imperfect me. She taught me that it is ok to be me. There is no benchmark for being good enough. Maybe God brought her in to show me that I could be loved, not just romantically. I haven’t felt love for such a long time, because I set the wall in front of me to stop everyone. I didn’t give them the chance to love me. I didn’t want to be the only one to be loved while my brother and my family were suffering. I should not deserve to be the only one happy. So I became the bully and at the same time the victim. I bullied myself for the sake of others. But it was not true. I did it to escape the feeling of guilt – the guilt for wanting to be happy.
If there is one thing I could tell others about growing up, it should be that there is nothing more important than being who you are. It is ok to be happy and it is ok to be you. If you don’t accept yourself and love you the way you are, no one else could. When you treat yourself better, maybe life treats you more kindly. I was struggling for so long to find out that I cannot change what is done. All you can do is to accept things as they are – both the joy and the pain.
Life is too short
To wake up in the morning with regrets
So, love the people who treat you right,
Forgive the ones who don’t
And believe that everything happens for a reason.
If you get a chance,
If it changes your life,
Nobody said it’d be easy,
They just promised,
It would be worth it.
So, laugh your heart out
Dance in the rain
Cherish the moment
Ignore the pain
Life is too short
To be living with regrets.
RoY Entry 13:
When I entered high school I was already struggling with self-esteem issues. Middle school had been tumultuous for me; dealing with depression and going to a school where I felt I didn’t belong had a really negative impact on me. Thankfully I was transferring out of that school, but this just meant I had to get to know a whole new group of people. Not only that, but most of the people there had known each other for years, making me the outsider.
During this period of my life I was also dressing in lots of black clothes, kind of a mild version of "goth". I didn’t have the energy to take care of my appearance, so I was mostly just wearing my hair as it fell, and slapping on some eyeliner. Since I didn’t dress like my peers at my new school, I found that most people just left me alone. This was fine with me, and looking back on it now I think that this was probably my goal in dressing that way. You don’t have to worry about feeling rejected if you just deter anyone from trying to get to know you.
On my first day of school I met a boy who dressed like me. He was the only other black-wearing kid I could find, so we immediately started hanging out. Things were great at first, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit. And since my middle school had been an all-girls school, it was great to finally have a boy show some interest in me. I developed a crush on the boy, and it seemed like he was into me too which made me really happy. Eventually I hooked up with him, and that ended up being a big mistake.
After he got what I can only assume he was after the whole time, he completely shut me out. He wouldn’t talk to me in school, or return my instant messages. I was devastated. Unfortunately things only got worse from there. He started spreading rumors about me in school, saying things like I cut myself, and that I was a slut. He would also have his guy friends harass me in the halls and during classes. I would also get harassing instant messages from him and girls he was friends with.
I wasn’t sure what to do at this point. It seemed like I was just going to have to deal with this for the rest of my high school career. I decided to see if printing out the harassing messages he sent me, and giving them to the vice principal would help, but as far as I know nothing ever came of that.
One day I was sitting working quietly in my history class, a class this boy and I were both in, and he started throwing things at me. It started out with small pieces of paper, then they got bigger, and then he threw a pen at me. This was when I lost it; I stood up, looked at him, and shouted so everyone in the class could hear me: “STOP THROWING S**T AT ME!” The teacher immediately came over and took him out of the room to scold him, and I had never felt more proud in my life. I stood up for myself, in front of everyone. And I never heard a peep from him again.
I think that this was the day when things started turning around for me. By the end of that school year I had made a lot of friends, and a few really close ones. I also stopped dressing in all black; I didn’t want to drive people away anymore. It was pretty remarkable how quickly people warmed up to me once I changed my appearance. I wasn’t wearing the same brands as them, but at least I wasn’t looking so gloomy anymore.
The point of telling this story wasn’t to show how shallow people can be, although in high school this can be an unfortunate fact. The point is that standing up for yourself in front of a bully is one of the most empowering experiences you can have. When someone is doing something that you don’t like, you need to tell them to stop. It’s never easy, but having to deal with harassment is far worse. Also, don’t be afraid to tell someone in charge like a teacher or principal that someone is harassing you. It can be very helpful to have someone else keeping an eye out for you.
RoY Entry 14:
When I was a little girl, my innocence was taken away from me before I would have liked to let it go. However, I like to think that I came a long way from where I have been. I am happy. I emptied out the chest that was sunk in the abyss of my life, containing my most deep, dark secret. I am married with a daughter, and getting ready to finish college. I have a great relationship with my mother, father, and siblings; I have few close people in my life that I find irreplaceable. I was finally able to let it go!
If anyone asked me how I got here, I would probably say that I did not know; it definitely took time and thought. I did not go see a psychologist or therapist; I dealt with the thoughts, fears, and tears on my own. I started out writing a lot, expressing anything and everything all the time. I found a way to get things out of myself to myself first. Then, I began to tell other people about my obstacles. I first let people at school read my writings; everyone would think that they were so powerful. Soon after that, I became more vocal about my tribulations to friends and close teachers at school. I think that this ability to finally open up about things to myself and then to others, eventually gave me the courage to tell my mother and other people that were very close to me.
I took time to get out the things that held on to for so long and also to find relationships that I could trust in. But with time, the things that happened to me were no longer things that I hid about myself; I could share these things openly. I was no longer ashamed. And I think somewhere in this transition, I began to see myself as a survivor and no longer a victim.
If I knew a young girl who was just like me, hiding a painful secret, I would tell her to hold on, things will get better. Find a way to express yourself, write poetry or music, sing, dance, just do something to make yourself think more positively. Find relationships with people whom you can trust and try to open up about what you have been through and what you are going through. It hurts when you have to hold something in all alone, but having other people know, somehow it makes the load lighter and empowers you. Eventually, you will know that you are a survivor and not a victim. You made it through things that many people cannot even imagine, and you are still standing! You survived! And life can only get better from here on out.
Once you own who you are and what you have been through, things will really begin to get better. Carrying a burden alone is too difficult to do, and when the burden is gone you will have space for other things, like true relationships. And you better not ever look at yourself and see anything but beauty. I know how the things that you go through can make you see yourself as fat, or ugly, but truthfully you are not. You cut yourself short of much happiness and miss out on a lot with thoughts like this! Do not allow anyone or anything to take your confidence or self-esteem; you have already been through enough!
What you have been through is not something you need to be afraid of anymore; you made it. Just open up about it and stop holding on to something you cannot change, own it and survive.
- Express it to yourself (write, sing, etc.) 2. Express to others 3. Become a survivor