There comes a time when I think we all learn the importance of who to trust and who to not trust. As of recently, I have come to lose much trust in males–not all, but definitely the idea that males, boys, men, whatever are not ones I should easily trust. I usually find it hard to trust women too, especially if they are around my age. I tend to make friends more easily with anyone who is at least 5 years older than me. There are always exceptions, though.
It is easy for me to just put up a wall and choose to trust no one, but with that mentality I have also come to deeply harm myself. In a rather short span of time, the way I related myself and the belief I had of overcoming adversity has changed for the worse. Ten years ago, I was a naive little teenager, but I had a clearer idea of what I wanted in life. I use to have this innate amount of faith that I would be able to do whatever I put my mind to if I just believed that I could. Today, I constantly struggle in trusting in my own abilities.
At 14, I remember my first appointment to see an optometrist because I could no longer see my teachers writing notes on the board. While my Mom and I were waiting for my name to be called in the office, we were skimming through one of the many magazines in stock. Within the magazine we were looking at, there was a small advertisement for the Institute for Children’s Literature. Essentially it said something like,
“Do you dream of becoming a writer? Take our Aptitude Test, get your results, and sign up to have your own personal instructor that works at your pace to help you meet your goals.”
Before then, maybe at the age of 12 I had always loved to read books and had wondered what it would take to sit down and write one myself. One summer I even challenged myself to read as many books as possible–I think I got to like 60 or 70–and they were thick too. Looking at my Mom that moment when we both saw that advertisement, I just remember her smiling at me and quietly ripping the page out of the magazine, slipping the paper into her purse. Thinking back, I realize how much she played a role in wanting me to discover every facet of life that could interest me, without ever shutting down my curiosities. Writing was one of those many interests and it still remains as one, even if my own inner critic tells me I suck.
It was not until very long that I had passed the Aptitude Test and was enrolled in the writing course closely after my 15th birthday. My Momma was paying for my 10 writing courses, where the last assignment was to write a first draft for a children’s book. To my dismay, I never finished the courses. I got to assignment #9, but then I was not able to come up with what I thought was a “good enough” idea for a book…there was so much already out there and I wanted a totally unique idea, not one that closely resonated to Harry Potter or Twilight–as that was what was “in” at that time. Do not get me wrong, I love my Harry Potter, but let us be honest: No one will ever be able to write anything that surpasses J.K Rowling’s magical world and amazing life lessons.
At 15, I started to sign up to all the college access websites in search of scholarships, college hunting, and ultimately dreaming of getting as far away from North Carolina as I could. Whenever Augustana’s song “Boston“came out, I was done–all I wanted was for that song to become my life [[She said I’ll think I’ll go to Boston, I think I’ll start a new a life, I think I’ll start it over where no one knows my name…I think I’ll get a lover and fly him out to Spain…I think I need a new town to leave this all behind]]. So, my focus became New England but definitely Boston. Through my hunting, I specified my filter searches for New England. Slowly and surely, I started to receive interest letters from many colleges and universities not just from North Carolina. At that time, I had also recently seen Homeless to Harvard, where I first grasped what the meaning of an Ivy League school meant. Before that movie, I had no earthly idea schools even had such reputable statuses. But Elizabeth Murray was my inspiration. If she could do it, I could do it. Without signing up for more information, I started getting letters of interest from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Cornell…eventually, I received letters from all of the League. Back then, to me that meant that I was worth it–someone was seeing me. Those letters made me feel invincible because from the other kids I had talked to in school, no one was getting those letters.
My freshman year of high school I got into the Elon Academy and became part of the first student cohort in 2007. As found on their website, the program consists of “an intensive college access program based on academic enrichment, leadership development and family involvement. The program serves academically promising Alamance-Burlington high school students with significant financial need and/or no family history of college, historically barriers to considering a college education.”
I remember almost not making it for my interview with the Elon Academy because I had been feeling sick that day, but I think that my high school was the last one to hold interviews…so it was that or nothing. So, I remember I went with a red, stripped blouse, black slacks, high heels, and a high ponytail. I honestly never thought I would get in and it is still one of the biggest blessings I hold dearest to my heart.
At 16, I discovered Questbridge and I truly believed I had a chance of getting matched with one of their partner colleges. Here, I thought, was my one way ticket into college with all expenses paid and out of state! Back in my time, I applied for the “College Prep Scholars Program” where from my understanding then, I could be awarded certain things, maybe things have changed since then. Of course, the biggest award was being able to be part of the actual program and get a jump-start on college applications with a certainty I could get matched with a partner school. I did not get into the program, but I did get invited to go to one of Questbridge’s National College Admissions Conference at Yale University. The Elon Academy funded my trip to Connecticut and also gave me the sweetest chaperon to accompany me.
That same year in high school, I had discovered I was really good in my allied health class. Anatomy was just a language I could understand and I had been able to memorize all of the human body’s muscles, ligaments, and bones. I had joined my school’s allied health club that competed with other high schools on the basis of writing, terminology, and other topics I cannot remember. Heck, I competed and I think I came in like 3rd place for a writing competition. If I took Allied Sciences II my senior year of high school, I would walk out with my CNA and have a greater chance of working towards a health-related career. But, I [stupidly] made the choice to not take the class my senior year. My teacher even reached out to me, asking why not. I was one of her best students and I can see now, that back then, she saw my potential when I took it for granted.
At 17, I began applying to colleges through the Questbridge College Match Program. I think back then, the maximum number of partner colleges you could apply to were 8. My guidance counselor was absolutely amazing. She knew of Questbridge, or I cannot remember if I had introduced it to her. Mrs. Royal was able to get me waivers for all my transcripts, so I pretty much applied to 10 colleges for free. The only two exceptions outside of the Questbridge partners schools were Boston College [my die-hard dream] and my only safety school in North Carolina–good ole Appalachian State University. When my time came to do my College Match Application, I had all the faith in the world that I would get accepted into at least one…but, I honestly got no where. No institution I had applied for “wanted” me. Officially, I got into two schools: I was wait listed in Boston College and I cried angrily [& ungratefully too] as I read my acceptance letter to Appstate. Though every part of my being had only wanted to escape North Carolina and leave behind every memory of my Dad, it was obvious that was not meant for me. But, at least I had tried and I would still be going to college.
Six months before I turned 18, I was falling for my high school crush hard. May 23 was our first “outing” and we met up all throughout the summer before I went to Chile for exactly a month. We liked each other a lot. Not a day went by in Chile that we did not speak and towards the end of my trip in Chile, we continuously stated how much we missed each other. Long story short, we fell in love–passionately, crazily, and maybe more from my end, a little obsessively. I have read some of the messages we sent one another on Facebook and I cringe with embarrassment and laughter. He was never a bad guy. He was actually quite mature, regardless of what I thought back then. He liked my quirky weirdness because it complimented his own. We were fucking adorable, but also incredibly genuine about we felt for one another.
He liked me for who I was and through dumb teenage shit, I slowly began to question my own worth. There were moments he had some fault that led to me questioning myself, but as I read those God-awful embarrassing messages, it was clear that I had ultimately created this vicious view upon myself.
In my head, I thought he was too good for me–making me think I was not enough.
In my head, I thought he was so creative and fun–making me think I was boring and a party-pooper [to say the least].
In my head, I began to think he just liked me for my looks–making me think I was just being seen as an object.
Those were all insecurities created by me, and I have no fucking clue where they came from.
He never told me any of those things that my mind constantly spewed. On the contrary, he always told me to just be myself. And God, what simple advise. He told me to be positive; if I did not like something about myself, to work on it, to talk to people about it –not bottle it up to myself thinking I was doing myself a favor. Regardless of what my mind thought years ago, he was actually onto something wonderful. I think my biggest take-away to that has been this: just have a little more trust in life, in yourself and surely, everything will be okay.
Five years later, I think I got the message.