Once upon a time, in a land far far away (across the Atlantic Ocean) there was a little girl born to two of the smartest and most compassionate parents in the world. They did everything they possibly could for their child and more, including her mother quitting her job to take care of her daughter and moving the family across the ocean to a place not so far away. They lived life happily and simply in a small apartment at first, and eventually moved into a bigger house. The little girl started preschool and discovered a few things about herself; she loved to read and write, chose to play dress-up over going outside, and became jealous rather easily. Her mother was patient though, and loved her so dearly. Her dad was just as understanding and loving. This little girl was as happy as ever, until her parents had a baby sister. At first, she didn’t know how to feel about it but then realized her love for her newest sibling. Her parents were involved in her baby sister’s life, and this girl had a lot of time to herself. She tried to figure out who she was through different sports and music. She got perfect grades in school, was friends with everyone, and especially excelled in swimming and piano. She wasn’t always happy but this didn’t matter because her parents were. They finally had a perfect little family.
When this girl started middle school, she didn’t know who she was anymore. She was tired of being the awkward dorky elementary girl who befriended every kid on the playground and did everything her parents told her too. She started to meet new people and became a different person. And through this process, she hurt lots of people, including her old friends; her family, who had always been there for her; and especially herself. She began to hate everything that made her her, and her grades began slipping from A’s to B’s, she stopped going to swimming all the time, and quit piano altogether.
This girl began high school without something extremely important- herself. Somehow through the introductory stages she got through all of this and became friends with the most honest and best friends any girl could have. She was happy a lot, but she also was sad a lot. She didn’t know how to explain this and she doesn’t to this day. She loves her family and her friends, but somehow through learning and growing up, she never found out who she was. All she ever wanted was someone to call a best friend, someone so close and only so close to them, to understand and to listen and to love so dearly. She wanted someone to understand why the littlest things would make her so jealous, why she would stay up at night crying herself to sleep for weeks on end, and why she still doesn’t know what she loves in life. This once little girl born across the ocean to what seemed to be a nearly perfect family is no longer so little; she will be going off to college in two short years and feared that she will leave behind nothing. She feared that she would go into the next chapter of her life with no hope for the future, and disappoint her family and friends that she had already hurt so much. She wanted to know why she felt this way so often and why there was never anyone out there for her. She wanted to fix things and had no idea how, probably with love and friendship and happiness to help her make it through the next stage of her life, because she didn’t know how to do it alone.
So, junior year, seemingly the most important of all, became one filled with unrealistic expectations, sadness, and stress for her. With the academic pressure increasing and her personal problems developing, she became overwhelmed at multiple times and didn’t know what to do or how to ask for help. When she began to hurt herself and the people she loved in ways she had never imagined, she ruined the end of her summer, the start of her school year, her fall swim season, and her 17th birthday. She ruined her Halloween, her homecoming, her weekends, her meets, and her nights out with friends and MEA break and especially her grades. And she did things her parents would have never imagined and she would have never imagined, and it made her so sad all the time. But not so long ago, she gave in and confided in someone she trusts more than the world. And she helped this girl and the girl talked to people she loved and is hoping to turn things around with the help of many in ways still surprising herself today. While she never thought she would be the person to need so much love and attention and help from her family, friends, professionals, and everyone else in her life, she has to admit that things have been so much better for her. Although she knows that her grades still need improving, although she wishes she had had a better fall season, and although she’s sad that she wrecked the better half of the year, she’s finally come to realization this Thanksgiving season that she deserves to be happy- we all do. Because after spending months hating herself for who she had become, she realized there was nothing she could do about it. And while circumstances may not change enough or change too much, happiness is dependent on self-perception more than expected. So through a lot of help from her loved ones for a little change in attitude, she began to see things brightly. After feeling so badly about everything for so long, she is looking forward to having a fantastic Thanksgiving and Christmas, and being happier than she has in some time.
When the streets glisten this holiday season, she wants you to take the time to think of things positively. While this is necessary for her own happiness and personal health, it can only benefit and improve the attitude and state of mind of others. So this Thanksgiving break, learn to appreciate your mother making you coffee the morning of a test, to appreciate the time we have off from school, to appreciate off-campus privileges and waterproof makeup and your dog greeting you as soon as you’re home. Learn to be thankful for the laughs from television shows, cries from sappy novels, and chilly fall days with the siblings. And tell your loved ones you are ever so thankful for their wise words of wisdom, satirical comments, and motivational messages. Tell those friends, those supportive teachers, fantastic coaches, wonderful teammates, lovely siblings, and good ole’ mom and dad that you love them. So- to all the lovely people reading this, count your blessings this Thanksgiving and have a happy holiday! Thank you all for being so wonderful and such positive presences in my life.