Actually, I probably give some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard.
But, one thing that I’m probably even worse at is managing stress, and, more importantly, giving people advice about it. Because, in all actuality, I have no idea how to manage it and I don’t think anyone really does.
Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as little as that paper you know you should have enough time to write for your English class, yet you psych yourself out because, after all, it is a big chunk of your grade. And stress can be as big as….. well anything. It can take over your life and control you if you let it.
For me, one of my larger stresses I refer to as competition stress. This comes with all sports competitions, no matter the magnitude of it. It’s the pressure and the anxiety sitting on your shoulders like a bird watching its pray from way above so the pray can’t see them.
Lastly, the big stress, the whole shebang, is what I call the stalker stress; this is the type that even if you kick, scream, run, and hide it’ll find you somehow. It is the type of stress that resembles a person you don’t want to get to know, and one that you hope doesn’t know you. It is the boogie man hiding under you bed when you’re little and the clown hiding behind your door. It’s the reason that you hate walking alone in the dark because you don’t exactly know what you’re scared of at this point, you just know you’re scared.
But, I’ve learned one thing, and if people do ask me about stress this is the only true piece of advice I can give: it’s hard to manage stress, but it’s even harder not to be scared of it. So once you manage how to not be scared of the inevitable, life becomes easier, I don’t exactly know how, it just does.
P.S. I don’t want you to go on thinking that I have it all figured out, because I don’t. I’m so far away from it, but I’m managing, and will continue to until I can stop stressing about the little things and go on living life. But that will be a while, because it’s difficult and stressful.
I often wonder how people write autobiographies. That wonderment often boils down to my curiosity of how life plays out. How does one go about living a life interesting enough to write about?
What is it to live a life full of intrigue and well meaning? I haven’t lived that much of life but there are so many people my age or within margin that have already lived such extraordinary lives. I feel like I’m playing a game of catch up with a future I can’t even see.
How do I live an extraordinary life worth marking down in the books? How do I reach a point where I feel confident enough to write it myself?
I often wonder how people write autobiographies; do remarkable lives just happen or are they fought for? Am I fighting hard enough? Am I fighting for one at all? What does it take for a life to be incredible?
I’m a sophomore, far enough away from college, but ever since I was in the seventh grade, all anyone’s been asking me during family reunions or Christmas is college questions.
When you’re younger you feel like you have no weight on your shoulders and have your whole life to figure these things out, but now as I’m sitting in the Journalism room, staring at the college counseling books stacked on the brown shelf in front of me, varying in different sizes, holding the futures of so many students, I realize that I have no idea what I want to do. I then turn to my left and see the wheel of felt college banners shaped in a circle which are where many students go and will continue to go.
My family has all these big life plans for me, which sound great and all, but I’m not sure that’s what I want.
And everything matters now, these are the final years before adulthood, where every mistake you make, every bad test grade you receive, every thing you say and write matters; your whole life is being documented.
This begins to make me think.
As I’m sitting in my living room staring at the French doors which open to my courtyard, filling out applications for college summer programs all over the country, I’m trying to write about myself as a student and about my life, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
This makes me realize how much I haven’t done in life; I’m finally transferring out of my childhood, out of my adolescence, leaving my past behind as I take on the next chapter in my life.
I watch all the movies where life seems to fall into place for so many people, and their whole life is figured out. They go on a date with their dream boy, and lie beneath the stars staring up into the heavens picturing what their life could be together, but I haven’t had that, and who knows if I ever will.
You never realize how much is passing you by, and how many opportunities you’re missing.
Sometimes I want to be a cat. Doesn’t it just seem like the perfect life?
I could spend my days strolling around, exploring the webs of roads and paths that spreads over my town, connecting my kingdom. I would find fences to sit on and trees to get stuck in. I could hunt mice and birds and lizards, and bring my trophies back home to my owner, for him to worship me, his one and only goddess.
Then, at night, we could all sit on the couch with the TV running in the background, and I could assert my dominance over that pathetic dog by snatching all the back rubs. And, maybe later, I could chase around that mysterious red dot again, listening to my humans cheer me on with their laughter.
I would be a queen with incredibly soft paws, with a coat smoother than silk, blacker than the night sky, and eyes as striking as the stars in it.
One of my favorite things in the world is skincare. Maybe not the most deep or expected of passions but know you know. While I may not have the best skin, I do really love washing and moisturizing my face, plus all the steps in between.
I remember as a kid I never washed my face, or occasionally I snuck some of my mom’s face wash, but that was it. Then when I got older and interested in actually caring for my face, I got whatever I saw show up the most often on drugstore shelves.
The face-wash made my face feel tight enough that someone could play a snare drum solo on my face. Whatever moisturizer I mistakenly picked up was essentially a too strong concentration of salicylic acid (an effective BHA acid in small doses) suspended in a silicone cream; it left my skin sensitive and irritated.
It was a dark time that almost killed any desire I had to take care of my skin.
It was frustrating, what was supposed to help me feel good about myself was instead making me feel like I didn’t even want to try to take care of myself. Instead of feeling relaxed, my skincare was stressing me out, which in turn made my skin freak out.
So I began to actually research skincare. I started with the products that had made me so sad and pinpointed what ingredients didn’t work for me, and ones that could.
I followed obscure internet trails into back alley articles about the difference between moisture and hydration, pressure points to take down face swelling, and that products with pearl powder are known for their brightening properties.
Now, one of my favorite parts of skincare is all the research that goes into learning about different ingredients and their uses. In fact I often become obsessive and go down rabbit holes I didn’t even realize I stumbled into.
For example, did you know that snail mucin, which is exactly what it sounds like, is great for hyper-pigmentation, and that the best way to harvest it, cruelty- free, is to pamper the snails by putting them in a dark room and avoiding stressing them out. It’s like prepping escargot but the snails live in the end.
The more research I’ve done the more quickly I’ve discovered that skincare is an extremely subjective topic; recommendations and “holy grail” items don’t apply to all. While one person could love birch sap another could hate it, plus everyone’s skin is different.
Through all my research I also learned that caring for my skin isn’t about vanity, it is about taking care of myself mentally. It has become a part of maintaining my mental health.
I look forward to it before I go to bed and when I get out of bed in the morning. I use it to decompress at the end of the day or armor up for one. Skincare to me is time I have carved out for introspection and reflection, which helps me feel less anxious and better about myself, inwardly and outwardly.
The memory of you fades more and more each day I grow older.
What I remember is the crashing waves against the sandy coast lines of Malibu.
The wind blowing into my hair from the rolled down windows.
The blinding sun shimmering in my eyes, and I’d squint hoping it’d go away, unaware of how I’d long for the feeling again in the near future.
The bright blue sky in the distance.
The cheeseburgers that somehow always tasted better near the ocean
The laughter in my heart, and my squeaking voice as I’d sing off key to my favorite Abba songs with you and Rachel.
There wasn’t a care in a world during those moments, but they never lasted long anyways.
I remembered the endless nights just as clearly as the endless days.
The hours of screaming. The hours of crying.
The secondhand cigarette smoke and uncleaned bedrooms.
The weekends moving from your place to dad’s.
Child support money being gambled away on lottery tickets, and gas money for late night drives when I’d rather be sleeping.
One day I was pulled out of school early. I said goodbye to my friends, to my crush, and to my teacher, unaware that I’d never see them again.
Unaware that I’d never step into a school building again until fifth grade.
Unaware that I’d never live the life I longed to have until you weren’t there to experience it with me.
I never said goodbye. May 14th you made a promise to get better, but you never kept that promise for me or my sister. You left me, and never came back. Sometimes I see you in the crows that’d never leave me alone, and they’ve always annoyed me, but I’d take their beauty for granted because I never knew what it meant.
I blame you for leaving me. I blame you for worrying about the relationships in your life that constantly broke your fragile heart more than your own daughters who loved you more.
I hate you for never being the mother I always wanted to have.
I was ten years old. I’ll never have a mother to help do my hair for my senior prom. Instead, you chopped it off to my ears when I was nine, and left a curse on me so it’d never grow back.
You left me.
I’d never have a mom to meet my first boyfriend, to move me into college, to watch me go to law school and take on the world I always craved to explore. I have aunts, but is that really the same?
It’s been six years. All you are to me is a faint memory. A small memory, similar to a memory of passing smoke in the air. The same smoke that’d leave your lips. The same smoke from a habit you never really broke.
But you, my mother, are everything I loved and hated at the same time.
You are the sound of my favorite band, and the warmth I felt when I finally hugged them for the first time. You are the stars in the galaxy; the ones I don’t look at enough, but I know they’re always there. You’re the scent of oceans on a summer day, and the sweetness of my favorite cookies.
But you’re also the sound of terrifying police sirens coming to get me when I know I’m safe in my bed. The vision of snarling fangs glowing from a beast growling under their breath. The thought of betrayal; when those I love most don’t love me back, but you did.
At least I thought you did. You’ve told me so many times, but did I believe you? I always wanted to, but love is such a frightening concept to me that I can’t recognize even when it’s right in front of me. I can’t appreciate it like other people do when they love their own family, boyfriends, or best friends.
You’ve made me into who I am today. You’ve lit the match that sparked the fire in my soul. You made me appreciate music. You made me curious about the world. You gave me happiness in the smallest ways even when we didn’t have much.
But you also ruined me. You isolated me from the world, and when I returned to it I was fearful. It took me so long to learn how to communicate again, how to express myself, and even then I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the same, fiery spirit I had when I was a kid full of happiness and innocence. You made me closed off, and I might never forgive you for it. I can never fully place my trust into someone else’s hands, because it’s already been destroyed by yours.
But I thank you, Mother. You gave me life, though a part of it died with you.
But even then, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Do I miss you? No. Do I miss the thought of what you could’ve been? The thought of having a mother to watch me grow up? I miss that everyday.
So, Mom, I hope you’re happy up in Heaven. I never really believed in God, but I know you did, and I hope you’re happy there if that’s where you wished to be. Because after all the pain, the sadness, the tragedies, and heartbreaks you’ve been through, all I wish for you is happiness.
It feels like just yesterday when my childhood friends and I were placing graham crackers in our kindergarten cubbies for our Thumbelina dolls to eat, or sitting under the big, protective oak tree, hiding acorns from the boys in our class.
Flash-forward ten years and here we are today, possibly closer than ever, but yet there is a division between us, and secrets hiding underneath the smiles flashed to each other.
We sit down at the plastic lunch tables, and pretend to laugh at jokes we don’t get. We then walk away, our group separates, and we don’t see each other until the next class.
It’s weird to think we would hide anything from each other but maybe I did something that changed that. It’s hard to not always blame yourself, for things you know aren’t your fault, but maybe someone else thinks they are.
You try to confide in people who you once would, but things are uncomfortable, so you tuck your feelings away. And at last, your childhood friends are falling into different groups, and, finally, your group is divided.
You’re probably the single most important person in my life and we have an expiration date. I tear up whenever I think about losing you, and I drown in tears each time I realize that it is inevitable.
I will miss you. I will miss your beautiful bright smile from across the room, all your jokes (that are horrid by the way, but still better than mine), your amazing eyes when I simply need someone to stare at me with so much love and make me feel wanted, your stained soul that matches mine, all the warmth you can give me with a single hug, I don’t think there’s one thing I won’t miss.
You’re so sweet, you’re so romantic, you’re so good, you’re mine. I am so lucky to call you mine.
I want things to stay the way they are, I want to hold on to you forever, to the 251 days since I began to fall in love with you. That is not enough time for me to love you the way you deserve to be loved, and not nearly enough time for me to get sick of you in any way. I can’t even imagine that. I can’t imagine leaving you. We deserve more time.
At the end of the day, we’re going to be fine. We will live, and at one point we will move on. I just wish we didn’t have to. And who knows, maybe our lucky paths will meet again.