Polaroids

On the center of the granite countertop of the mini bar in my grandparents’ house, a home I spent the majority of my childhood in, sits a single polaroid. In that polaroid is a picture of me as a little girl, food all over my face with my dog right in front of me.

That is the only photo I have from my childhood and I can barely remember the story behind the photo. Now, it makes me wonder how many memories I’m missing out on because I can’t remember. This is also because I have no photos to revamp my memory.

I have no photos of myself with long hair, with my parents, or pictures of my dogs. All I have are my memories; the ones blurred between the lines of trauma and bliss that was my childhood, the ones I desperately want to forget and remember all at once.

Photo Credit: theverge.com

It’s terrifying that I have such a clear memory of the smallest details nowadays, but I can’t even remember the details of my parents’ faces. The little things in life that were defining aspects of my day to day life as a kid are blurred images in my mind today.

All I would have are these photos, but I don’t even have those.

Now, I have an abundance of videos and photos piling up in my Snapchat memories and phones new and old holding numbers of concert videos that I barely look at anymore. Videos that I refuse to give up, in case I want to look back on them and smile. I have photo albums filled with developed photos, polaroids from prom and random nights with friends, lining the shelves of the desk in my dorm room.

Some people say you need to live in the moment, to put your phone away and let your mind keep the images. But, I can’t. I don’t take photos and shaky videos to post them on my social media; I take them so I can hold on to the memories forever in the literal palm of my hand.

I have no photos from my childhood. Not a single one. Not in a photo album, on my phone, but I wish I did. As much as I try to forget everything from my life before I was ten, I wish the memories weren’t becoming just memories. I wish I could hold on to a photograph and relive the moment all over again.

But, that’s why I take photos all the time through the lens of three different cameras. So in thirty years, I can look back with a clear image and not just rely on the one in my head.

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Shortcuts

Let’s face it, they’re nice. Who am I kidding, they can be great.

Would you rather win the lottery or work your ass off everyday, struggling to get by?

Would you rather get straight A’s and not even have to try or be in a class where getting a B- minus is a HUGE accomplishment?

Would you rather do your Spanish homework or go on Quizlet and find the answers?

Would you rather tell your mom you swept the floor or would you rather actually sweep the floor?

Would you rather take an hour to fold and put away your clothes or just shove them in your closet in less than thirty seconds?

What I’m getting at here is, shot cuts can be nice. Who am I kidding, they can be great. Yet, as great as they are, most make life harder in the long run.

Cool, Quizlet got my Spanish work done in two minutes, but do I even know what the heck any of the questions are asking?

Cool, my mom thinks I swept the floor, but am I really the type of person who will throw away their integrity just to get out of a thirty second chore?

Cool, my clothes are out of the way, but, shoot, when I went to get dressed, a mountain of clothing fell on me.

Cool, I did twenty push-ups instead of twenty-five, but is getting done first even an accomplishment if you cheated?

Photo Credit: lovethispic.com

Many days, I see people taking short cuts too, so its nice to know that I’m not the only one. But, more than just self-reassurance, I find it comforting that I’m not the only one who occasionally struggles with putting short term effects over long term results.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you need to walk twenty miles to work instead of driving because you have legs. I’m nothing saying to use them, to not even think about taking the car. I’m not saying no short cuts for you. But, if work is a three minute walk from your house, don’t take a short cut and drive. Being efficient and taking a short cut are two VERY different things.

Efficiency is great. A needed skill set in the always-going world we live in. Why would you walk twenty miles to get to work when you can take a quarter of the time and drive? Why take three hours hand-writing a story when you can type it in a half hour?

A lot of the time, people mistake efficiency for cheating. The definition of efficiency is to get the most done in the shortest amount of time with the least work. So, maybe you’re thinking, that you’d rather read the Spark Notes of a book than read the full book.

Here’s the thing, when your teacher asks you what the main character’s last name is, will you have a clue?

When the Spanish test gets handed back, will you get a good grade?

When your mom asks if you did your chores, will you lie directly to her face?

When the race comes and your teammates are strong from doing all the pushups, was the satisfaction of doing less in practice worth the shame you feel now?

Recently, Ive been working on doing the right thing instead of taking the easy way out. I read my English books instead of reading the summary, so I get a good grade on the test. I worked hard in practice and I got a personal record in my race. I took the time to get what I needed to get done instead of putting it off for later or completely ignoring it at all.

I’ve realized that no matter how much you don’t want to, pushing through the little things is what makes you better, stronger, and smarter. Suffering through a hard workout will eventually result in success; thinking about what you say before you speak will result in less regretted words; and putting your all into everything you do will result in a life that you’re proud of.

Take the route that’s right, instead of the short cut. Because, as cliché as it sounds, it’s not the destination that matters, its’ the journey.

Because I’m a Woman

I watch a channel on YouTube called Yes Theory.

Their entire philosophy is based on the premise that when we start to say yes to things, we open ourselves to experiences that would never have been possible if we had said no. It encourages its followers to be spontaneous and preaches the idea that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.

To live out this philosophy, the main people involved are three 20-something, friendly, and fit guys who travel around the world and complete challenges based on the spontaneity and kindness of strangers.

In their latest video, one of the guys is abandoned alone in Slovakia with no money and no phone, where he must attempt to return to his friends in Budapest.

I love everything about this channel and I hope someday I can live my life in a similar fashion.

But, I know this isn’t as realistic for me. Simply, because I’m a woman.

The thought of being dropped off in and exploring a random country sounds like a dream. The thought of being dropped off alone in a random country sounds terrifying.

I hate that just by being female, doing anything becomes more dangerous. I am a strong believer that a woman can do anything a man can. While that is true, it’s also true that women have to take a lot more precautions than men do.

I read a study that asked groups of men and women about the things they do in their everyday life to avoid being assaulted. The responses from women went on for pages. For men, there was one answer: “Nothing. I don’t think about it.”

Photo Credit: twitter.com

Words cannot express how much I wish this weren’t the case, how much I wish men and women were really, truly equal when it comes to things like this.

I wish that my mom didn’t have to worry about me going to the beach with my girl friends at 5 PM, even though she is fine with my older brother going to the same place with his guy friends at one in the morning.

I wish that women weren’t twice as likely as men to experience sexual assault or violent crimes.

I wish it weren’t like this, but it is. And let me tell you, it sucks.

To any men who are reading this, appreciate the fact that you don’t have to make sure you have your keys in your hand when you’re walking to your car at night. Be grateful that when you’re running by yourself and a truck drives behind you, you don’t have to stop to let it pass so that you can see what it is doing. Remember that there is a reason why girls always go to the bathroom in groups.

Tell this to your sons. Make them understand what it’s like. Teach them how to make women feel safer.

Maybe someday we’ll live in a world where a young woman can walk through a city alone, the only thing on her mind being how grateful she is to be there, and her biggest concern being what she will eat for dinner.

That’s all we want.

 

“Time… and I Have Gone Away”

When I was younger, I thought that by the time I was this age, I would have everything figured out.

Obviously, I haven’t lived up to that expectation. Looking back, I really didn’t have a clue what I would be, considering I thought High School Musical movies were a credible source for what teenagers are like.

Now that I’m actually in high school, I know that the expectations I had for this age were completely unrealistic. It’s definitely not as glamorous and there are far less organized musical numbers than I had envisioned.

But, when I think about who I will be in five or ten years, I picture some perfect version of myself. I’ll be kind and successful and doing all of the things that I wish I could be doing right now. I won’t be insecure about how I look, how I speak, or anything else that I care about now. I’ll have grown out of it by then, because I’ll have realized that it doesn’t matter.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

I’m sixteen now, but I’m still fantasizing about my future self, just like I did when I was six years old, and my expectations are still probably just as ridiculous.

I like to think that once you grow up, you know yourself completely. I like to imagine that I’ll have it figured out. I won’t have to picture the type of person I want to be, because I’ll already be that person.

In a perfect world, it would work like that. But, this world is far from perfect, and so am I.

I don’t think anyone ever fully grows out of certain things. We learn and grow our whole lives, but it’s not like everything just magically falls into place one day.

When all is said and done, I just hope that who I am in ten years is someone I’d like to know now.

Goodbye

You left.

You were the one that thought I wasn’t good enough.

I was the one who treated you better than you deserved.

So, please tell me why I am the one who is texting you, trying to mend our relationship.

Tell me why I want to be on okay terms with you, while you don’t.

Actually, don’t. Don’t answer any of those, because I am done.

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

I can’t wait until the day you look for me and I am gone.

I can’t wait until you realize what you had and want it back.

Until you’re a man who can actually handle me, rather than the boy you are now.

I can’t wait until you yell for me and I don’t come running to your side like you would imagine.

I wish I could see your face during the moment you read this, the last thing I will ever type to you.  Goodbye, first love.

A Letter to My Favorite Band

Photo Credit: CelebMix.com

 

Dear All Time Low,

I know it’s cheesy when fans say you saved their lives, but here’s a fan saying it once more.

You saved my life.

Figuratively. Never once in my life have I contemplated ending it all, but what I mean is that your band has made all the rock bottom moments easier to go through.

I’m supposed to be the one who has it easy. The girl from a well off, supportive family who wants me to succeed. The one with no financial issues, boy drama, or grief. If only that had always been the case in my life.

But, because of it, that’s all I’m allowed to be. The girl who has it easy and who shouldn’t be sad, because what do I have to be sad about? That’s why I don’t tell my friends anything, because I’m supposed to be the happy one.

But, that’s why I feel saved by you and your music. When I put my earphones in at the end of the day, the layers of thick skin I put on to build a barricade around myself falls down. I’m finally myself; every flawed, fragile, and delicate piece of myself free to be the real me when I listen to “Missing You” or “Therapy”.

It’s not just the music, though. It’s the community you’ve created for me and every single fan you have. I’m thankful for the concerts you perform, because I would’ve never been able to meet girls there who I’ve spilled more secrets to than the friends I’ve had for years now because I felt so safe.

Thank you for making me feel safe.

When I met you guys July 7th, 2017, I didn’t say everything I wanted to. Partly because I only had thirty seconds with you guys and partly because I was too shocked about the fact that I was finally meeting my favorite people in this world to even formulate a sentence beyond a simple “thank you”.

So, here’s the truth.

Thank you for making such amazing music. Songs that inspired me to learn guitar, lyrics that I want to get tattooed when I’m older, and music that will always stay on my playlist no matter how many times I change the music I listen to.

Thank you for being there through it all. When my parents died, when I went to boarding school for the first time, when my school burned down, and when I felt abandoned and alone in this rapidly changing world; the one thing that has remained constant in my life is your music.

Thank you for creating the best fan base in the world. The ones that held me up, literally, when I went crowdsurfing for the first time during your set at Warped Tour and for the ones I screamed and cried with when “Therapy” was performed.

Thank you for making every moment obsessing over your band the best moments of my life.

I’ve written many letters throughout the years to many different people, but I didn’t know how to begin or end this one. The reason is that no words could truly explain the  impact you’ve had on me, my happiness, and my life.

“It’s just a band” most people say, but you’re not just a band.

You’re my band.

My favorite band and even in thirty years, when my music taste is completely different from what it is now, you’ll still be my favorite band.

So, I’ll end this letter the way I started it.

Thank you All Time Low…

You saved my life.

Here Now, a Long Time Ago.

Do you ever wonder what the world looked like before anyone was here?

What would the earth look like if there were no buildings, no cars, no sign that it had been touched by any human ever.

Take a look around at exactly where you are right now. Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes, and try to picture it.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

I think there would be lots of dry grass where I am. If I were to lay down on the ground, I would slowly sink into the scratchy brush until my back met the hard dirt below.

The air would be cool. There would be lots of oak trees everywhere.

A creek might curve its way through the little valley, slowly moving across the open space. Supposedly there used to be one, but it’s long gone now.

It’s night time. The sky would be so dark, but the stars would be so bright, speckled against the blackness.

I’m not quite sure what it would sound like. I know there would be wind, rustling the brush a little bit. The barn owls, coyotes, and mountain lions would roam through the hills, looking for something to eat.

I’ve never known the world when it was untouched, the way it was supposed to be. But, I think about it all of the time.

I wish I could be there.