(All title credit goes to my boyfriend. Fuckin’ jackass.)
High school for me could most simply be described with two words: living hell. I have struggled with depression and anxiety as well as attention deficit issues since I was in early middle school, and no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t manage to have a high school life the way other kids did. I took months off at a time, tried night school, back to day, and after everything the faculty tried to do for me, still ended up dropping out. I don’t let that phase of my life get to me anymore. I’m a dropout. That is a fact. I have my GED, employment history, and am enrolled in college. Those facts are far more relevant.
I’m taking three classes this semester at my homey little community college: Psychology, Philosophy and Dramatic Literature. Unlike in high school, so far I’m really enjoying the education I’ve been getting. The class debates are lively, and I find that I like everyone I’ve come into contact with. In high school, I may not have been introverted per say, but I definitely held a lot more negative feelings towards a lot of people and a lot of opinions. That’s not to say I don’t disagree with plenty of people now, I simply have a wider radius of what’s considered a tolerable opinion, and what’s objectively a piece of garbage. I isolated myself in class discussions back then because the notion of conflict scared me to the core. Now, I find that I can finally blossom in an environment like this because as of recently, I’ve somehow changed.
A few months ago, while I was drowning in the throes of a complicated and depressing love life, a stressful job, and family issues, I had a revelation. It hit me like a train on a track and has become one of my six 2018 resolutions.
“I am sick and tired of apologizing for who I am,” I realized suddenly, not quite knowing just how profoundly this thought would change me. Yet here I am, realizing that even though it took time for me to ease into the idea, I really did begin to follow my own advice. I stopped apologizing for things that I need not say sorry for, and I started embracing my identity more head-on and not shying away from myself. Do I still fight the eternal battle of that creeping self-loathing? Sure. Depression is still an aspect of my life, even if I’m fighting it hard. What I do notice, however, is that I’m making the change I wanted.
When I was younger, I had various forms of social media with varying levels of publicity. My Facebook has always been limited to friends, but includes family and real life acquaintances. My Snapchat is essentially the same. Over a year ago now, I ditched the other two platforms I had (namely Tumblr and Twitter), as they were starting to drain the life out of me. My friends on there were mainly strangers, mainly in places across the country or even across the world. I shared anything there, but it was meaningless. The world was toxic. I needed to get away.
These days, most of the hesitance I had when it came to sharing what I wanted to in places where my IRL friends could see it has faded away. I don’t remember an exact moment where this happened, but perhaps it was gradual and I just didn’t notice. Though, it’s here. I’m truly coming out of my shell, if it can even be argued that I had one to begin with. I’ve stopped caring what people think of me, and it’s making all the difference. In high school, I can’t imagine I would have ever been able to participate in class discussions the way I do now. I’d have spoken up, been shut down, regretted it, and remembered just how much I hated myself.
I’m twenty, I’m in college now; things are different, and I’m not the only one who’s matured. People who in high school I would have bitterly detested, I respect their differences in opinion and still appreciate them for who they are. No, not everyone has matured in this way, but I can tell that its not just me who’s going through stuff like this.
My dearest friend Nico said to me at the end of last year, “I have a feeling that 2018 is going to bring great things for both of us.” I told him I was hopeful, but I had my doubts. Me? Happy? Bullshit. As I reflect on my life on the ides of February, I realize that an eighth of the year has already gone by, and I’m okay. I’ve yet to drop out of college. I’ve yet to fall deep into a spiral again. Bad times are sure to creep up on me again, but I’m honestly, truly okay.
In a world as dark as mine can sometimes feel, this feeling is a blessing. I only hope that I continue to mature every day, and that I get the most out of my college education. After all, the one person who’s in charge of my destiny is me.