A Year Ago: My Journey out of the Darkness

A year ago, I was much different than I am now. And in another year, I’ll be even more different. With confidence, I can now look to these horizons with hope for what my future will bring and where my hard work will take me, but it was not always this way.

A year ago, I was in the darkest place I had ever been regarding my mental health. Throughout my youth, there had been multiple instances of me getting extremely anxious or seasonally depressed, but nothing could compare to the hurricane that was my sophomore year. After experiencing two traumatic events in my summer home after my freshman year, I waltzed into my sophomore year knowing that I was not ready to live by myself in a room of my own in an apartment that felt very lonely half of the time. Yet, I did it. I took the jump.

A year ago, it was May. I was mid-production of a musical where I played the villain. Everything was negative. I’d sit in my room whenever I was not doing school, work, or extracurricular activities and just cry or sleep. I wouldn’t feed myself food that was good for my body. I’d just given up.

A year ago, I went through every month from July to May and found a thing that went wrong in each of those months and used that list as validation to give up. I remember calling my mom and telling her that a traffic ticket was a valid reason to stop trying. I remember sitting on my balcony and convincing myself that, in the grand scheme of everything, my life did not matter and I did not need to keep suffering like this. People had used me. People had abused me. Best friends had brushed me off like I was nothing when I’d told them that I was feeling like giving up. They wouldn’t even follow up to see if I turned out fine. If people who I had cared about were completely fine leaving me, maybe I was meant to leave it all. I didn’t take a breather. I didn’t stop with my monster agenda. I kept pushing and trying to do my jobs, but inside I was gone. I was already leaving.

I looked like I was fine. I acted like I was fine. You were meant to think I was fine.

June came. I let it all tumble out. I finally opened my mouth about the struggles. I opened my heart to the new friends that had surrounded me. I opened my eyes to the future.

Here we are. It’s a year later. I am stressed, but I am happy. I can see the horizon. I can see that endless run into my future. The only things that make me cry now are the ideas of my friends graduating. How did I get here?

I pulled my ass out of the rubble, but I didn’t do it alone. I went home for the summer. I wrote a million things about how I felt and what I wanted. My family helped to piece me back together. My friends were there, even from hundreds of miles away. I made goals and I accomplished them. I watched Wonder Woman and The Force Awakens about thirty times. I came back strong and I came back fearless.

I do not need your validation. I do not need the people who left me. My heart is my own and I control what breaks her. I do not need your permission to like myself.

If you are in the dark right now, I promise you that the light is still out there. You cannot see it. You’ve traced back every wrong for the past year, but I see that glowing light waiting for you. Please keep pushing, though it hurts more and more each time. Speak up to those who love you. They do not find you to be as annoying as you feel when you ask for their hands to hold. Tell the people who you love that you need their love as well. If they push you away, push them right back and go to the ones who are there. They might be new friends, but they are true friends. This seems like the end. It is not. You are a bright, young thing and you deserve all the choices that exist in this world for you. Do not let your traumas take away your triumphs.

A year from now, you will look back on the dark. It will still hurt, but it will be valuable. Like a battle with your greatest villain, this will be your victory to bear. You are stronger than you know. A lot of your emergence into adulthood is learning that your strength has not been tested yet, though it has always been there.

You are strong. You have a future of memories that you deserve. You are worthy of love and care. You are special. You are valuable.

You are in the dark now, but the light is waiting here for you.