March 29, 2017

I like to document how I’m feeling. It’s the whole reason that I ever started writing this blog, and it will be the main reason I continue to do it. I don’t see a time in my life coming where I won’t be writing, because writing is everything for me. It helps me sift through the dirt so I can get to the gold. That probably isn’t a good analogy because most of the stuff I write about on here isn’t the kind of gold you’d want to find. It’s dirty, sometimes it’s gooey, and most of the time it isn’t shiny. But that’s why I write it. Even though it’s ugly and unappealing, it demands to be seen. We all have those things that demand to be seen.

Today I was reminded about a post that I wrote last year the day before I turned eighteen. I read through it today, a year later, and found myself wishing I could go back to that person. That person was excited for the year that was to come. She was so in love with her life and her people around her. The “season” she was in was beautiful, and man, I wish every day of my life looked like that. The fact is that I ended that blog post with the words, “17 was great, but 18 is going to be even better.” The fact is that I don’t think 18 was.

Yes, I graduated high school, started my second year of college, and… what else? I took and almost failed a statistics class, complained more than I’d like to admit about an intro to fiction class, and – here’s the highlight – wrote a fantastic final essay for my British Literature 1 class. Okay, what else?

I didn’t do anything big this past year. I didn’t go on a mission trip or kick the crap out of a marching band season (or, rather, let it kick me). I didn’t spend every weekend with my best friends or spend time each morning reading my Bible. This past year of my life seems dull compared to the year that prefaced it. (That’s what they call ‘change‘, isn’t it?)

There is one thing that happened this year, and this is the thing that I can look back and say made 18 worthwhile. Even though I struggled and I lost a lot, I grew. (Not in height, I’m still just barely 5’4”.) It was personal growth, through my emotions, actions, and thought processes. It’s hard for me to see the big picture of this past year and how that growth fits in, because as the days go on, I unload the previous ones. It’s like a conveyor belt – one day gets loaded on while another is taken off. I forget them. I forget them too easily. But it’s there, and I know it is. It’s small, I think, and involved taking a couple of steps backward when I should’ve been leaping forward. But personal growth is something that happens over time, not immediately and often times not drastically.

The ‘time’ part is why it’s hard to see. It’s almost like someone turned off all the lights and told you to walk around with your hands out in front of you to find it. Sometimes you run right into it. Other times you get down on your hands and knees but still come up empty handed. I’ve been down on my hands and knees searching for this thing, hoping that I could see a large change in myself immediately, but all I have found are small pieces that I thought were insignificant at first. These small pieces have shown me the differences between early 2016 me and current me, and I like those small differences. I’ve known the obvious differences – I was happier a year ago, I was more ambitious a year ago, I had a lot of sparkle a year ago. Somewhere in the mess that was last year, I lost a lot of sparkle. I gave it easily to people and I stuck myself in places that I wasn’t meant to be. As Taylor Swift once sang, “I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.”

I’d like to find her. I’d like to tell her that she’s going to look back on that year of being 18 and think that it wasn’t so great, even though the majority of it was. I’d like to have that sparkle again and that excitement for everything. I’m not naturally an optimist, but if you read that post, you’d think I was. Or maybe I was just a girl so in love with the Lord and her life that she thought there were only happy days ahead. We forget that things happen, and when they do, we think we’re okay at first. But the truth is that after some time, we’ve lost our main focus. I’ve lost my focus.

I’m scared to make bold statements and set large goals for myself this year. I’m not feeling them right now. I might in three months, but right now, I’d rather just listen to Taylor Swift songs and look forward to the cake that I’m going to eat in the days to come. I think the truth is that there’s a lot I want to change this year, but nothing worthy of a bold statement stands out to me. I guess, in general, I just want to be better. Whatever that looks like, whatever that means, I want to be it. I want to be better.

So here’s to my last teenage year. Here’s to happy days and hard days and days that I won’t want to get out of bed. Here’s to all of the pieces of fiction I will write and want to throw away, and the blog posts that will be too overthought and maybe too wordy. Here’s to my best friends and the family that sticks around. Here’s to being better. Here’s to 19.

*Disclaimer: 18 was good, but in this post, I’m comparing it to the post I wrote last year about being 17. Don’t get me wrong – there were many happy days. 🙂


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