Light

Around ten o’clock every morning the sun shines through my room perfectly, allowing it’s warmth to soak my skin despite the freezing cold just beyond the walls. If I don’t have class or work or any other responsibilities, I’ll lay in bed and allow the warmth to fill me up. And, just like plants in the same way sun gives them life, I feel life flowing into me as well. I’ve learned this year about the importance of soaking up life. About letting light in every form it may come, be it the company of a friend or serenity of solitude, pour into you and fill the parts of you that so desperately needed it. Because sometimes you don’t know. You don’t know that that impromptu conversation with a stranger is going to turn into a sharing of stories that will leave you feeling giddy and nostalgic. You don’t know how that random drive will lead you to a beautiful place, filling you with a serendipitous memory you can call your own. You don’t know about the things that seem like a burden at the time, either. You don’t know how that person leaving your life was really making room for someone better, even if it was just yourself. You don’t know how that horrible moment was paving the way for a beautiful mind.

But even among all this unknowing, it’s hard to deny that life isn’t always working for you. We’re always going to outgrow a part of ourselves. And if you remember being younger and struggling to sleep as your legs kicked back and forth along the bed and the growing pains kept you up then you know that growth is not comfortable. In the same way that your body changed so will your life as a whole. You’re going to outgrow the person that you were; you’re going to outgrow the person that you are. In the midst of all that, you’re going to outgrow other things too: dreams, people, circumstances. The only reason it’s uncomfortable – the only reason it hurts – is because you don’t know what’s next. But if you can trust your body to grow into exactly who it’s meant to be, you can trust life to allow you to grow into who you’re meant to be.

You don’t have to know what’s going to happen to know it’ll be okay. Life is always working for you, not against you. It’s just a matter of sitting in the sun every chance you can get even if you know there’s nothing but cold around you.

Bloom

Winter beat me down. Freezing the soil that was supposed to help me grow and leaving my soul covered in ice and ready to shatter at any given moment. The constant battle between feeling the warmth of the sun and hiding in the shadows became exhausting and left me tired. Tired of the pain that comes with clawing my way through the frozen dirt. Tired of the ache that is felt when my mind wanders to a place it shouldn’t. Tired of fighting for people who didn’t fight back, leaving me covered in bruises while they were left standing tall. I had been pushed away, people not realizing that what really happened was I had been pushed down as they walked away. There had to be more to life than this. Flowers don’t bloom in frozen soil and you can’t move forward when you’re lying on your back.

But I know that winter is both an end and a beginning, and I will honor every ending. Even if the ending is a broken heart. A broken soul. A broken smile. The sun continues to shine every day and whether I’m hiding in the shadows or not, the ice around me will still melt. And while the sun shines around me, I know that there is a light within me that shines as well. It may be hidden behind the cold and darkness right now, but it is trying to break through and eventually it will thaw out the frozen heart that aches within my chest. The light is beautiful, and so am I. When it gets its chance to shine through it will flicker and fade like everything else, but it will shine with an urgency that lets the world know that I am not done. I have not been defeated.

Soil cannot be used until it has been beaten and rained on. I am confident that while I have been put through the wringer time and time again, I am being prepared for something great. For someone great. Someday I will know how the stories that have been building up inside me were being archived to tell to the right person. To someone who wants nothing more than to hear about the mess within my mind and smile when I tell them about all my little victories. About how sometimes simply getting out of bed made me proud. About how the mud that once covered me flaked off my skin to reveal a softness I never knew I had. A softness that was preparing my heart to love in a way it never knew it could. They will see the unsteady light within me and know that it, too, is something worth fighting for.

Though winter beat me down, spring brings a new sun. A new peace. I still have to fight my way through the cold and rely on my own uneasy breath to warm up the layers of ice that have been collecting over my spirit, but I will keep breathing, even if my lungs begin to ache. The soil that has been stomped on, trampled over, frozen and soaked is only being prepared so a garden of the most beautiful flowers can begin to bloom in the new sun. There will be daisies and sunflowers. Things that remind me of light and beauty. Things I always have but cannot always see. While I have been left hurt and uneasy, I am grateful that I was pushed down and beaten by others because it has ripened my soul. I am not always the best and I am not always right, but I do my best to do what is right. A new season is coming and by the grace of God, I will bloom in every way I know how.

My Own Battle

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a very emotional conversation, I opened up to someone about something I had been holding back for what feels like my entire life. Overcome with tears, I told them about my own personal mental health struggles and how, for a long time, I haven’t felt okay.

I’ve never been the type of person to get too emotional. For years, some of my closest friends had never even seen me cry. It wasn’t until senior year that that started to change (granted, it was a pretty emotional year for everyone). Yet, I was still the one others would turn to for advice, encouraging everyone around me to enjoy life even in the middle of chaos. I was always the “overly optimistic” one, the “positive” one, the “happy” one.

I’m not saying I didn’t always feel that way, because sometimes I did – I meant every “it’s a good day for a good day” that I said. I just believed so strongly in this “attitude is half the battle” mindset that I used every ounce of strength I had to ensure I had the right attitude because that was the only way I could win the battle. I even thought that if I could make everyone around me happy, then I would be happy too. Didn’t Gandhi say something about a candle never losing its light by lighting others? In reality, though, what ended up happening was I was giving so much of myself away that, rather than being filled in return, I was being drained. My light may not have faded, but I was running out of candle to burn.

I had done what I thought to be such a great job at shoving down my doubts and insecurities that I truly thought I was okay. The panick attacks or sudden mood swings or days where I would dissasociate myself were just “off days” and nothing to worry about. My relationships with others were even suffering but, to me, that had to be for another reason: fate, God, I don’t know, but it wasn’t because of me. But, as life got harder and things got to be more than I could handle, it quickly became evident to me that maybe the way I felt wasn’t just from one or two bad days, but from a mind that had been drowning and a heart that had been breaking for far too long.

In the initial conversation where I confessed these parts of my heart, I was still torn between feeling trapped and feeling free – now I had admitted to these feelings, so I needed to do something. Luckily for me, I was talking to someone who I felt confident I could lean on, so I wasn’t diminished or looked down upon in any way; I was encouraged and met with an equal understanding – something that I will forever be grateful for.

It’s only been a few weeks since that conversation that helped me shed some light on the darkest parts of my heart. I still don’t know exactly what to do; maybe I’ll go to therapy, maybe I’ll start yoga or mediatation, or maybe I’ll just practice being more self-aware, but I know I have seen healing in many ways since then. I’ve only opened up to a few people about the way I have felt, but the support I received has been beyond encouraging. It’s reminded me that, no matter how I feel, there will always be someone with a shoulder for me to lean on. It’s amazing what healing can come from simply acknowledging that healing is needed.

Now, I don’t mean for this post to be sad and my hope is that nobody reads it with a heavy heart. I hope that it serves as encouragement to open up and reach out. I talk so often about vulnerability and feeling without suppressing, but I neglected to acknowledge the deepest parts of me that needed to hear those lessons. It wasn’t until I opened my heart up more and more to another person that I began to notice that there was something deeper that needed attention from me. My hope is that someone reads this and something in their heart shifts in a way that lets them know it needs some extra attention as well.

The more I talk about it, the more healing I see. I’ve realized that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to not be happy all the time and it was always unrealistic of me to think I had to act that way. I hope that as time goes on, I can continue to accept that lesson. I know there is so much beauty to the life around me. Hopefully, as I continue to open my heart up, I can let the darkness work its way out as light works its way in and I can start to truly see that beauty again.