An Open Letter to the First Version

“I don't know what I'm saying. I guess what I mean is that sometimes I don't know what or who we are. Days I feel like a human being, while other days I feel more like a sound. I touch the world not as myself but as an echo of who I was. Can you hear me yet? Can you read me?” 

Ocean Vuong, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

 

As I get closer to my own personal two-decades-deep milestone, I become more familiar with what it means to grow into a new body. A new Hannah; a continuation of an image made from old bottle-cap sized memories and coin-like moments of happiness. 

This year has been equally as encouraging as it has been tiring. I laugh to think that I am only nineteen, and yet still consider myself old. As many sunsets I have seen, as many shows I have gone to, how many flowers I’ve picked, the number of friends I’ve made, the number of books I have read, the songs I sang, and jokes I’ve made- I am still only nineteen years in. The small reminder that I am only as old as the moments I let myself feel. 

This revelation in mind, I decided to ask some important figures in my life about how they have been shaped and reshaped over their years. Enjoy the kind & curious memories.

Love always, 

Hannah 

The questions I asked to choose from:

  1. What is a piece of advice you have kept with you?

    1. One piece of advice that I have kept with me is what my mom told me which is to make sure you know who you are and how you define yourself because if you don’t, other people will define you based on their standards and they will define you wrong. - Líah Gilkes

    2. As the youngest in my family, I have been given a lot of advice from siblings, cousins, parents, you name it! The one piece of advice that has really stuck with me is something my Grandma always told us. "You can't control the actions of others. All you can control is how you react to the situation."  She wanted to teach us that we have power over our own emotions and that is the most powerful tool a person can have. - Ally Collins

    3. One piece of advice I’ve kept with me is “there are always good people in bad places.” I’ve been able to apply this to so many experiences in my life. Another one that’s stuck with me is “you can’t put a price tag on your imagination.”  Think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself. - Chloe Brosmer

  2. When have you felt yourself shift through versions of yourself?

    1. I have felt myself shift through versions of myself when I have had panic attacks. My mind races resulting in obsessive ideas affecting my outlook on life; causing me to become different versions of myself. My anxiety causes my philosophy in life to shift rapidly which I feel makes me take on different versions of myself. -Luke Lauchle

    2. I have felt myself shift through different versions of who I am throughout my college experience for the most part. Emotionally speaking, I started to change who I was fall semester my freshman year. By my sophomore year, I started making peace with who I was and who I am now. A friend of mine encouraged me to stop seeing them as two different people. I started doing things that made me feel free. This was a version of myself that I never considered as possible. The shift between these two types of women, from freshman year Mary Kate to senior year Mary Kate, was certainly difficult; little did I know, I was standing on the precipice of my own being. - Mary Kate Barnett

    3. I would say I often feel I have different personas that I use or push away. In most of my everyday life—I am Tori. I love kindness and I love giving everything to everyone. That said, I also have Victoria—who carries her own burdens and I try to keep her locked up a lot. This version is the root to a lot of my breakdowns and insecurities because I can’t figure out how to help her. Sometimes I forget or can’t switch and it makes things worse. - Victoria Perry