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.
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.
Everything’s been a little different since the fire.
The drive back home is darker now. The trees seem angrier, defeated.
Even now, when the breeze picks up it stirs around the ashes that had settled into the dirt, the ashes that first arrived over six months ago.
I can still remember it so vividly. I can still smell the smoke, I can feel the ashes burning my eyes. I remember how hard it was to breathe. The air was thick and the world was sluggish and grey. For awhile I forgot that the sky wasn’t normally orange. The wind was hot. Everything felt dirty.
I can still picture seeing what was left of my uncle’s house for the first time. The home and business that he had spent so long building was reduced to a pile of black dust and scrap metal and crumbling rocks. I wonder how long it took.
My brother found a metal garden sign buried in the rubble. It read one word. Simplify.
How ironic can the world be? The fire had already taken everything from my uncle, so why, at the last second, did it feel the need to cough up a message telling him to simplify?
I was angry for a long time. I was sad. Our little town doesn’t deserve this, I thought.
But slowly, I’m starting to think maybe there are some good things that have come out of this, scattered all around.
The hills were black for a long time. And then it finally rained. So the grass started to grow, and trees that I’d assumed to be dead starting sprouting leaves again.
And now, there are hundreds of wildflowers blooming all over the ground. I’ve never seen some of these flowers before in my fifteen years of living here.
Before the fire the hills were dark green and brown, earthy. During the fire they were red. After, they were black, scorched. But now, they’re speckled with blues, yellows, purples, light greens, and covered with orange California poppies.
The only way that they are able to bloom is because the brush above them was burned away.
Maybe there’s some irony in that too. But I think it’s also very beautiful in a way.
And it’s the little things like these that we have to be thankful for.
It’s strange how people can change without even being aware of it.
Take me, for example.
I used to have so much more to say but now I just have so much more to think.
There was never a conscious decision.
I never told myself, “Today’s the day I’m gonna grow up!”
I think it just happens gradually, it takes lots of time.
I think part of getting older is becoming more self-aware and learning new things about yourself.
I started to notice that things were changing when I discovered that my parents opinions aren’t always the same as mine; when I realized that even though it’s difficult sometimes, I am allowed to think for myself.
I started to see that someone’s bad decision shouldn’t define who they are as a person.
My friends tell me that I’m different than I used to be.
“It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing. It’s just a thing, you know?”
But I believe there is a lot of good that can come from change. I think that being different than I was before means that I’ve learned a lot and that I’ve started to become who I’m supposed to be – who I want to be.
I came to Ojai Valley School in the middle of my sophomore year and now I am 88 days away from graduating. Two and a half years at this school went by fast, but when I look back at the past it feels like a long time ago.
Life is so weird to me – the fun times go quickly and the sad, painful times go so slowly. Sometimes I want the time to fly and sometimes I want one second to last forever. As I’m thinking about all this, time won’t stop and life just keeps going.
I found this inspirational video by Robin Williams. He says “please don’t worry so much…because at the end none of us have very long on this Earth”. He also says that “life is fleeting.” I love the way he thinks about life, and that he puts this message out to the world.
Whenever I am stressed out about the future I always remind myself that “life is fleeting.” Sometimes I get so busy that I forget life is fleeting and precious. I need to focus more on enjoying life rather than rushing through it.
I recommend everyone watch this video, and I hope everyone gets the message.
I have Depression. I can’t control it – I don’t know when it comes and makes me depressed. My depression started a couple of years ago, and I’ve noticed a pattern for when it comes. Every two months it suddenly hits me. Sometimes it comes out of the blue, or sometimes something triggers my feelings and it happens. The trigger can be really simple, but it can be a big deal to me.
When I am depressed I feel really lonely and nothing seems interesting, it is very painful. To forget the pain I make myself busy by participating in activities and doing projects on my own. When I am not depressed I am very happy, I laugh at stupid jokes, hum along to my favorite songs, and blast music in my room and dance with friends. I forget how I felt when I was depressed, and I have a great time.
I think the only solution to solving my depression is time. I need time to process things. I hope that time will actually solve it, and until then I will keep myself busy.
Questions swirl: who am I, what am I doing, what do I plan to do?
I glance at the banister beneath my hands. It has a cool and smooth texture, but I can’t help but notice that every once in a while a splinter will prick my finger; one off-grain hair on the back of the hyena, one loose screw in a well-oiled machine.
Do I dare to be that screw, to be an off-grain hair?
The banister leers back at me, returning to its faux smoothness, mocking me – showing me that even those hairs are smoothed out. The bottom of the stairs approaches with a swirl of nonexistent dust soaked in blue lighting.
I can feel myself physically growing colder without anything else becoming chilled.
I imagine my breath swirling and dancing, taking to the air, oh how I long to dance that waltz, a waltz that is carefree. Of freedom, non-worry, to dance to an unknown beat, the beat that is all my own with no rules or steps, no one can dictate what it is, what I do, how I move, what I ask, how I ask, what answer I receive.
The end of the stairs comes faster than I want, as if telling me that my time for contemplative thought is over. I stare down the hallway, looking at the doorways – all the doors of different paths I can take; nothing black or white – all gray – all this sad, desolate gray, I can’t figure out what I should do.
I know that I want to leave, but I can feel fear closing in around my resolve, fire to ice. Am I a glacier, with more to me than is seen, or am I an ice cube, simple and nothing beyond my square?