I wake up, and I am big today. I am big with pep in my step and positivity in my veins. I start my day as I usually do, blasting my morning playlist and singing way too off-key in the shower. I love these space buns I think as I put on my usual makeup and dial my grandma’s number. I add some neon pink eyeshadow and glitter to match my neon pink sweatpants and yellow t-shirt I cropped last night. I look too damn good today! They aren’t ready.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” Grandma sings when she answers the phone. God, I love this woman! Grandma and I have always been so close, and I cannot wait to tell my own grandchildren stories about her, just like she used to tell me stories about her Nana.
I lace my combat boots up and bring grandma with me on my walk to class. It’s beautiful outside. The sun is shining, warming my face, and I breathe in the fresh air that smells so good, even though it doesn’t really smell like anything. The breeze blows hard, and grandma complains that she can’t hear me over it. But I love the breeze flowing through my hair, cooling me from the warm sun.
“I just got to class.”
“Okay, sweetheart, have a great day.”
“Bye, love you.”
“Bye, love you,” she said before hanging up.
We had a debate in my class, and I love when we debate. Public speaking is my strong suit. I always learn the most these days and, of course, my team won. Today is already off to such a great start! I smile to myself as I walk to my friends’ apartment. I basically live here. They are so involved on campus that it’s a wonder if anyone is home at all this time of day. I open the door and go to my favorite, most comfortable couch in the world. It’s time to do some homework.
I’m sitting here, zoned in, and typing away at my computer when the door opens. Yay, friends! Robert and Joseph walk in, and I am so grateful for the homework break. They greet me with big hugs and make me feel warm and loved. I grow even bigger. We go into Robert’s room, turn the LED lights on, he connects to the speaker, and we all just take some time to relax and vent about our day. Eventually, the rest of the apartment comes home, and one of their roommates makes dinner for us all. I love them all so much; they’re like family.
“You’re welcome to spend the night.”
“You know you love this couch.”
“I’ll make you coffee in the morning,” they all try to convince me to stay after dinner, but Vic is already on her way.
Victoria is my best friend. Ever since we roomed together at boarding school, I knew we were going to be friends for the rest of our lives. Our relationship has grown so much since coming to college, and we have learned how to support each other in unconventional ways. But, I honestly do not know where I would be without her.
She drove us to this new spot she discovered called Riker Island, and we finished the rest of our homework as the sun set.
“I rolled an herbal joint.”
“You’re doing drugs, Vic?”
“No! It’s herbal. Green tea, rose and lavender. It’s very calming,” my best friend says before she takes a hit and offers me one.
“I’m good. Thanks… and thanks for bringing me here.”
I’ve never been here before, but Vic said she knew a place I might like. She was right. I do like it here. My fingers are cold, and my ass is wet from the damp sand. But, I am still big, and I can see the stars. I can see more stars than I’ve seen all year. The sky is so big and so beautiful. I feel so lucky. Today has been such a great day. I love my life, my classes, my friends… I love this place. I love being me. I go to bed big, with a smile on my face and a happy heart. But when I wake up, I am small.
I realize I forgot to take my medication.
I am small. I wake up ten minutes before my alarm, but I physically cannot get out of bed. I am small, with no motivation and no will. Maybe I just need a little more sleep. I drift off into a dreamless state, and when I awake, I’m still small. I have another class online that I can still go to. I don’t want to. You have to. Shannon. Get up. Now. You already missed one class, and you have two more today. You need to go to class. I go to the bathroom and don’t have the motivation to put makeup on. I don’t feel like dealing with my hair, so I throw on a hat, some clothes, and log in to the class. It’s really hard to participate when I am small because I don’t know how to make myself bigger. Keep your negative thoughts to yourself. I roll my eyes at my own thoughts, grab a granola bar, and walk to my last class listening to my ‘Lost at Sea’ playlist. This playlist makes me shrink and grow. It allows me to feel the feelings that I am feeling while also reminding me that things will get better and I will grow. I feel myself grow a tiny bit bigger when Falls by ODESZA plays. But, I am still small when I get to class.
Fuck. I have to present. Why are you upset? You love presenting. I take deep breaths and try to calm myself down. What is this? Why am I like this? A lot of things are harder to do when I am small. I give my presentation way too fast, and I sit down, finally getting the chance to breathe. Something is wrong. I don’t feel good. I open my laptop to find a distraction, but I can’t even log in. The tears burn at the brim of my eyes. Do not fucking cry. Are you serious? C’mon, you are strong! You got this! But that was just a lie I told myself. I got up to leave to go to the bathroom and barely made it to the first stall before stumbling to the ground in tears. It hurts. It hurts so bad. I’m shaking and trying to take deep breaths to calm myself down, but I cannot stop the tears from flowing.
Why do I feel like this? I don’t even know how I feel. I can’t put it into words. I just feel bad. I’m hurting. Be rational, Shannon, think about happy things. I think about my family and my friends. I think about my accomplishments. But, I am still so small. I have no reason to cry. Yet, here I am. Get it together. You have no reason to cry. You are fine. I wipe the mascara-stained tear streaks off my face and go back to class. It ends quickly, and I have to go meet Joseph and a few of his roommates for a project.
I really don’t feel like being around anyone right now. They could make you feel better… Seeing them makes me happy… but I am still small. I smile, and I laugh with them, but I can’t help the horrible feeling underneath. As soon as the project ends, I walk home.
“Shan! Shan!” my friends call, waving excitedly from across the courtyard.
I wave back but cannot even muster up a smile. You can’t even smile? I still feel bad, and the tears are back already streaming down my face. I run into the closest building, straight to the bathroom, and once again, I’m sobbing. I don’t know why I feel like this. I hear the bathroom door creak open, and I try to silence my sobs until I hear it close again. My phone rings, and it’s Vic face timing me. Smile, you can do it.
“Hey,” I answered weakly.
She takes one look at me before asking where I was so she could come pick me up. I hate being small. I feel vulnerable, and I do not want to put my friends down. I’m always the one cheering others up. They shouldn’t have to be cheering me up. What if they don’t like small Shannon? I just want to be big again. I want to be big, Shannon.
I hear the door slam open, and the next thing I know, my best friend is crawling under the bathroom stall, engulfing me in a bear hug. She lets me cry in her arms for a while before we get in the car.
“Have you eaten today?” She asks me accusingly. She glances from the road to me, and I can tell I don’t have to answer the question because she already knows I haven’t.
“Yeah, I had a granola bar.”
She scolds me, and the next thing I know, we are pulling up to my favorite Mexican cuisine. What did I do to deserve someone like Victoria in my life? We eat, and she comforts me, and I truly believe that everything will be okay. I’m still small, and I still feel bad. But Vic helped me grow a little, and I feel a little less bad.