Looking Forward: What’s Next

You know how in super hero movies, towards the end, there’s also some bit of voice over where the now recently realized hero talks about what’s next and how unexpected his heroes journey was? That’s how I feel right now. Like I’ve come to terms and processed everything that’s happened and now I’m dramatically gazing out unto a city from the top of a skyscraper, wondering what lovely and marvelous things are in my future. And I wish I could hit a pause button and capture who I am in this moment because it’s all about to change.

I remember one of the last times I felt this way. It was the summer between 9th and 10th grade and I was in Louisville, Kentucky, on the balcony of a hotel, gazing out at the horizon as the sun set over the Ohio River. And I was thinking about how everything was going to change and wondering who I’d be in the summer between 12th grade and college. Well, now I know. I’m a little more sure of myself. I know who I am, and now I have more courage to pursue what I want. I’m not sure where 14 year old me went, she slipped softly into the night as my voice grew stronger, braver than hers.

I swear a lifetime has passed since I was gazing out at that river and now it’s come full circle as I’m now left wondering how much I will change in the future. Lesson learned? There is no end to the marvelous things that can happen, if only we are open to change.

The future is uncertain, yes, but at least this time I have a clearer view of what I want and where I’m headed. In just a few days, (June 20th) I’ll be launching a second blog called ‘Philomath Maniac’ where I’ll be blogging about tips to study better, good sites to learn and learning resources/books I’ve enjoyed. I have pretty big plans for that blog so all of that is just the beginning. I also may have an opportunity to give a TED talk so that’s pretty exciting! I should be hearing back about that in a few days.

And last month, I came out with my first poetry book called “Like A Lotus”!
Basically life is a lot different from last year and it’s been hard to wrap my mind around it sometimes. I look forward to seeing what continues to happen and what the rest of this year holds. I’ll be moving to college on August 18th and it wasn’t until freshmen orientation last week that this fact fully sunk in. And the funny thing is, I’m not afraid anymore. I’m just excited. I kinda got to see my room. Well….more like I pressed my face up against the glass door and was able to see the door of my room… but it was still an exciting experience regardless!

As a teenager, naturally I’ve heard a lot about how being an adult sucks. But maybe like everything I’ve experienced thus far, it’s not completely good or bad…it’s just different, and all we can do is learn to be okay with that and learn to take life as it comes. And maybe the scariest thing about being an adult is the uncertainty, the lack of control in the parts of our life that we’re taught that we should have all figured out by 18. So truthfully, all I have are plans. I’m not sure what comes next. But I’m learning to be okay with that because life is life. It’s exciting, scary, and full of change. But to me, that’s what makes it so great.


 

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Looking Back (advice to high schoolers)

I’m not really one for looking back. Actually, if you were to ask some of my closest friends, they would probably say I never look back. I’m very future-oriented. I’m more than ready to put the past behind me and focus on college and all the many opportunities that will bring into my life. I don’t believe in dwelling in the past so it feels strange to be doing this at all, but a recent youth group gathering got me thinking about a few things. This past Sunday, my youth group leaders spent the evening focusing on all of us seniors in the group. They’d put together a list of questions for all of us, advice and such we would like others and our younger selves to know. I actually wrote a similar post about advice to younger me so today I’m doing something a little different. So this is for my high school readers, specifically a friend of mine, Esther. I read once that we should always have someone in mind to write for so this one is for you.

Dear Esther, (and other high schoolers)

Learn broadly and intensely. And I don’t mean just for school, I mean read good books and have late, 2 am conversations with people you love about anything and everything (i.e. I once stayed up till 3 in the morning discussing what were the MBTI types of all the characters on “Gilmore girls” with my sister). Learn about different cultures and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. And I know right at your age, understanding and loving a lot makes you stand out, and not always in a positive way (believe me, I know!), but you will be a more interesting and well-rounded person because of it.

Another thing to remember is that high school is not the ‘best time of your life’. It’s just time, and like all time, you need to decide how you want to spend it. And, it gets better, it really does. I know it may not feel that way sometimes, but it’s called a life cycle for a reason. Good times roll around along with the bad.

I would also like to remind you to believe in yourself more. And I know how hard it is because you have all these thoughts and feelings, hopes and fears and it seems like just because there’s a ‘1’ in your age, that people (okay, fine, ADULTS)  will use that as an excuse to deny you respect and validation as a human who is capable of doing things and you’re given ten billion reasons to hate yourself and to lose faith in what you can do. But please, please, don’t. You will figure out who you are and it’s a long, messy process so be patient with yourself.

Don’t give up and don’t underestimate all the amazing things you are capable of. This is something I have struggled with throughout high school. I never really believed in myself. I let myself live by a long list of all the things I couldn’t do.

Also, forgive yourself when you mess up. Because you will. A lot. But just remember that it’s okay to change. It’s okay to change your habits or your hair or your clothes. Most importantly, it’s okay to change the way you think. You don’t have to hold certain opinions just because your peers, or even your parents do. (For example, I am a feminist.)
It is important though not to waver in your integrity. Test yourself and everything in your life by asking: “Is this right for me personally?”

Be a leader. You don’t have to be loud and commanding to do so. My mom would always tell me to set the example and that actions speak louder than words. And so with everything, I try to ask myself: “Am I making things better by saying/doing/behaving like this….or am I just making it worse?”

But on the other hand, if you have to choose between ‘helping’ someone at the expense of harming yourself (either mentally or physically), choose to protect yourself. Know your limits. Know what kind of people are good for you and what people are toxic. For example, I know/have known a lot of people with mental illnesses. I’ve learned that I can help people with depression/anxiety without harming myself. But not a lot of people can. But anxiety is where I draw the line. I can’t deal with anyone with bi-polar, sociopathic, narcissistic, tendencies. And then there are just some people that are toxic for other reasons.

Be open to meeting new people. Please don’t form cliques. Just don’t. Not only does it exclude others, but you’re harming yourself by blocking yourself off from many learning opportunities. Speaking of learning, learn from anything and everything. Learn both from the mistakes and triumphs of all those around you. No one is ever completely wrong or completely right.

And lastly, I want you to remember that nothing is ever irreparably damaged. There will, of course, be days where you feel like a fragile glass figurine and all it will take is a touch or a word to crack you into a billion pieces and you’ll be lying in bed, staring at the ceiling (maybe crying), and wondering if this chaos and pain is some inevitable chain that will forever keep on twisting tighter around your heart. But it’ll get better, you’ll grow stronger, I promise. And along with those dark days, they’ll be some moments that you’ll want to live over and over again because they’ll leave you full of hope and a grand love for life. That’s just life. Simultaneously perfect and horrid at the same time. Hold it all close to you because all these moments will soon be a fleeting wisp of what once was, and someday, you’ll look back (much like what I’m doing right now), and be in absolute awe of how everything came together.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Accepting Failures Gracefully

I am wrong. I have been wrong for quite some time. I was wrong about failing and I was wrong about me. I’ve let my life become a series of if only’s and why me and I just viewed my life as a series of things that against my control, happened to me. The only thing I have been right about is that often when we don’t have any lessons learned to write about, that means we’re in the middle of one.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a list of things I wanted to do/be and one of the things on my list was to learn how to accept failures gracefully. Ah, I’m doing a terrible job of explaining this. Let me try again.

Throughout all of senior year, I’ve been absolutely horrible to myself. I have torn myself down in the worst ways possible. Ihave doubted and questioned everything about myself. Mostly I said things such as “If only I had learned to like math earlier, then I wouldn’t be so behind” “If only I were better at test-taking, then I wouldn’t gotten such a low ACT score.” “If only I had prepared earlier by getting a job, etc, then I would have money for college” And then I began to think that maybe I should just not go to college this year so I would have more time to ‘fix’ things.

And this is something I’ve always done to myself. I’ve done the mature thing of placing blame where it’s due, so mostly placing it on myself. But then…I’ve just let that blame sit and let myself grow weak under it until soon, I had formed a cycle where every failure was completely my fault and that my life was just a series of things that were destined to go wrong. Senior year has been great in a lot of ways but that’s not what this post is about so I will now continue.

And I’ve realized that I have been wrong about what failures are. Failure is just life not playing out how we planned it all in our heads. We’ve made failures possible only because we expect this messy chaotic universe to perform a certain way. Namely, to our advantage. But just like our lives are not a random series of things that had the misfortune to occur to us, it also does not follow a self-devised script. That is not how life works and that is what I have been wrong about this entire time. Every single thing has two sides but it is up to us what side we see. Like, for example, my arthritis. It is something that happened to me yes, but I have made the best of it and become better become of it. Am I some sort of failure because my body sucks at even sitting or opening things? No. So why have I not confronted everything else in my life with the same level of optimism?

And so now I am thinking that failure is not the things we did or what happens to us, but what we didn’t do. Which is use every situation to make this big ol’ thing called life less sucky. And it’s not about waiting for the good times to roll around and wait out for ‘things to go right again’, But to exist as complex creatures in an equally complex universe.

So through this all, I’ve lost sight of the most important thing here. That I love learning and I love astrophysics. I love life and things are never going to go the way I’ve planned. Actually here’s a list of some of the things that have gone wrong this school year:

  1. I didn’t get into the honors college.
  2. I didn’t win any scholarships.
  3. I don’t have a lot of the money to pay for college so now my parents have to take out a loan.
  4. I didn’t get into the dorm I wanted, actually I got into the worse one on campus.
  5. I’m still not caught up on math and I have a placement test in about a week.
  6. I got a really low ACT score (21).

And I’ve let all these things overshadow everything that has gone right. Actually, I need to stop saying that things went “wrong” or “right”. They just went. They just happened.

No one is to blame, not even me.

And from here on out, it doesn’t matter what happened so much as what I am going to do about it.

So yeah.

I was wrong.

This is not the first time and it definitely won’t be the last.

Not because everything went ‘wrong’

But because I simply did not to see all that went and could still go ‘right’.


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Verbal Ink Essay

So I was looking through my stats here on this blog and I noticed that some of my most popular posts are just essays that I’ve written for scholarships. So here is another one that I wrote a little over a month ago. I never heard back from the people who held the contest so I assume I didn’t win, which is kinda sad because I am quite proud of this essay and was hoping I would win. Anyways, the prompt was:

 

How has language helped you find your voice?

(And I’m always looking for constructive criticism on my writing so feel free to share any tips or thoughts in the comments below! Enjoy!)

 

About a year ago, I was reading some poetry by my favorite poet when an idea popped into my head. If she did it, why couldn’t I? What’s stopping me from being a poet? Poetry was something I’d had a history with, I’d attempted writing poetry back when I was a preteen but soon tossed it aside, figuring there was no point to doing something when I had nothing important to say. So I had stopped.

But last year, I had fallen into that dangerous mindset of believing that I did not have a voice. That there were no words I could say that carried any weight. And this bothered me. I began to take a good look at my life and wonder: “What can I say that is important? What do I have to offer?”

That night, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just write. So I wrote a poem. It was terrible, but it was mine. It was my voice loud and clear. So then I wrote another poem. And another. And another. And throughout that summer I continued writing mediocre poetry and posting it on my blog that no one read.

It was then Autumn and all I had was poetry no one read on a blog that no one ever read. Everything felt safe, I was comfortable with this arrangement.

Ah, but then I had another idea….

What if I tried to get my blog popular? What if I posted my poetry on Instagram?

So that’s what I did. I reached out, marketed, my blog posts got better, my poetry was climbing out of the pit of mediocre. I was scared half to death of how my poetry would be received.

And over those few months, something amazing happened.

I had found my voice.

Soon people from all over the world were reading my poetry and my blog. I received comments on Instagram about how inspiring my poetry was, how brave I was to post them and how I must continue writing. I had done it. I found my voice and boy, was it loud!

Around that time, a young woman stumbled across my Instagram account and we got to talking . We both loved the same TV shows, we’d come from similar backgrounds and really seemed to hit it off. Over the next few weeks she began to share her story with me. That she was a recovering alcoholic who had let alcohol ruin her life for a year. That experience had given her major PTSD and she was currently in a bad place mentally and physically. I’d of course had no experience with this sort of thing and couldn’t believe that she was reaching out to me, who was only 16 at the time. She was 22.

But then I got to thinking about how my blog was doing and all the people I was inspiring with my poetry. And I realized that I had a way with words. I had the ability to encourage others, to bring a sense of hope wherever I went. So again, I thought:

“Well, why not?”

So we continued talking and I was there to offer words of encouragement and tried my best to talk her through panic attacks and to help her be optimistic again. They were just words I had figured and it’s not like I could actually make an impact with just talking, right?

And it never hit me until she finally wrote about her story and how I had helped her. Permanently altered the course of her life. Here’s an excerpt from her blog:

“Through this account I met some amazing people, one of those people being my friend Kate.
She runs the account kate_cruz17 on Instagram.
We are two uniquely different people, but I swear to you that if it wasn’t for Kate I’d be a whole lot worst than I am.

She from day one knew that I had a story, and over time she learned it and helped me through it.”

And then it hit me. I have a voice. My words are powerful and life altering. I am no longer that shy, timid girl last year who believed that I have nothing of value or importance to say. With my voice, my words, I can help people, I can make a difference.

I can change the world.

In a few months, my first poetry book is coming out. In less than a year, I have written over 50 poems! I have readers from all over the world who hear my voice. And over this past year I’ve realized that one voice can change the world if only we have the courage to speak up.

Wellspring of Words

Words aren’t meant to stay hidden
In the depths of our souls

Share the story of your life
For there are truths that need to be told

Do not let your words land in whispers
You are too powerful to barely exist
For I have seen the change we can bring
So be an open hand, not a fist

And I know that right now you feel weak
All you can do is force air out your lungs
But we are not creatures of silence
There is still much work to be done

And like you, I did not know what to do
Until one day I picked up a pen
And began writing my story in a rhyming verse
And now my words pour forth with no end

 

 

 

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Nothing Is Impossible

I can remember the day I began to hate math. I was in 1st grade, it was the beginning of the school year. I couldn’t grasp place value. Everyone tried explaining it to me. My Mom, older sister and finally my Dad tried. I just couldn’t understand it. It was too concrete. I remember thinking about how I hated math and would always hate it. And for the next 10 years of my life I did.

I remember the day I began to think I was dumb as a rock. I was in 3rd grade, 8 years old. School was so hard, I was never nearly as clever as my older sister who was good at EVERYTHING. I know a lot of people say that about older sisters, but my older sister was way better than all your older sisters! In 5th grade, she was at the spelling level of a 12th grader. I mean, she was bright, just caught onto stuff in seconds. And so I figured that since I wasn’t as smart as her, I wasn’t smart. It didn’t matter that I had the vocabulary of a college professor or better reading comprehension than most adults could ever hope to have, I wasn’t good at school so I concluded I was stupid. And it stayed that way for the next 9 years of my life until this past Fall when I saw my I.Q score read: 124. I realized that the reason I couldn’t grasp things wasn’t because it was too hard, but too simple. And I wasn’t dumb, but abnormally smart.

I remember the day I stopped writing poetry. I’m not sure I’d even call it poetry. But when I was 10, I was learning about poetry in school and my assignment was to write a poem. So I did. It was terrible but I loved writing it. And I kept on writing more terrible poems but I enjoyed doing it so I continued. Finally, I grew frustrated with my lack of talent. Figured there was no point if I couldn’t be good at it right away. So I quit. And it stayed that way for the next 6 years of my life until last spring when I decided to try poetry again.

I remember the day I gave up on drawing. I was 11 and was going through that “I love horses!” phase that I’m pretty sure every preteen girl goes through. Don’t deny it. You also dreamed of riding the horse of your dreams through fields of wildflowers…..
Anyways, my uncle who knew of my horse obsession, bought me a drawing kit and a guide on how to draw horses. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know by now that I’m an all or nothing type of gal and with drawing, I made no exceptions! I bought the supplies, read the books, practiced….but I sucked. I mean I was TERRIBLE at drawing. The horses and everything else I drew looked like the stuff of nightmares. So I packed away my drawing supplies, put down the pencil, and accepted that I was never going to be good at drawing. And for 6 years I did.

But what I can’t remember is when and why I believed that who I was at the time was who I was going to be forever. I cannot remember the day I decided to accept mediocrity. I cannot remember when I decided that there was a list of things out there that were simply impossible for me to do. I do not know the day I gave up on myself. I cannot recall the hour I began to shrink myself into the binding ropes of expectations.

I’ve learned something about myself. It began to come to the surface when I began to rethink my hatred of mathematics. It continued to drift upward as I began writing poetry and read all the sweet comments that people leave under every Instagram post. The realization crept upon my conscious as I easily grasped the abstract concepts of Physics.
And finally it has emerged to the surface as I now embark on the hobby of drawing.

I am impatient.

I am impatient with myself and all my shortcomings. I want to be amazing now. I want to be a popular poet now. I want to be an amazing artist now. I want to be compassionate, I want to overflow with kindness. I want to transcend my fears and see the world. I want to change the world, touch peoples’ lives. I want to be strong and brave and beyond clever. I want to be strong in my faith and also strong in mind. There is so much I want to be and sometimes I get a glimpse of the woman I want to be in the way I write my words and the way I smile. I see her in the way I carry myself on some days and how I speak to others.

But all I see are mere glimpses, just a shadow of the great woman I want to be. I am impatient and I want all that now. And that is my Achilles heel. I do not know how to do things small.

I do not know how to start small, but I will.

I am not a great poet, but I will be.

I am not a genius, but someday I will be.

I am not an amazing artist, but I am going to be amazing.

I am not a thing of legends, but someday I will.

And I’ve realized that if we tell ourselves these things every time we falter, then nothing can keep us down. We are invincible merely by believing that anything is possible. God did not say that only certain things are possible but that everything is possible with him.

Be patient.

Do not give up.

The day will come when your perseverance pays off, and you WILL be amazing.

 

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The Bright Side: Living With RA

When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Or JIA. (As those diagnosed lovingly call it). Since the age of six, I knew something was wrong with me, after I came close to dying from pneumonia. Soon after, intense investigation commenced, as doctors, some of the best in the state, tried to figure out why I had intense rashes, loss of joint movement, abominable pain and three close brushes with death. I spent ages 6-8, being poked and prodded at by doctors, all puzzled by my symptoms. It was 2005, and JIA in kids was pretty much unheard of. Probably why I wasn’t diagnosed till 2008.

Eventually, between 2005-2008, I adjusted to my new life of hospital visits, bloodwork and waiting rooms. It wasn’t ideal, but I was just a kid and had come to accept this new normal. The needles didn’t hurt so much anymore, the meds not so bad, and the doctors weren’t as scary as they had once appeared. The doctors said I could get better….and I believed them.

Until I was 9.

The year 2008 ushered in symptoms I wasn’t accustomed to. The pain in my lower abdomen was far more intense than ever before. And it occurred more often. Out of the blue, it would hit me, like I was being repeatedly stabbed with a rusty blade to the gut. Gradually, I found myself unable to move like I used to. First went my ankles, then my hips, then my hands. By the end of the year, as I neared my 10th birthday, all I could do was limp around the house and my doctors urged my parents to put me in physical therapy, saying that if my condition did not change soon, I might find myself in a wheelchair in just a few years. I remember hiding back in my room to cry more often and a state of hopelessness came and washed over me.

My meds were upped and they now had me on a drug originally used for cancer patients, but had proven to show better results for JIA patients. The pills worked for a bit, but by the end of the year, they were administered hypodermically. One of the side effects was decrease in eyesight and on my 10th birthday, I got my first pair of glasses.

Growing up Baptist, Bible stories were drilled into my head at a young age. I was taught that even though the events transpired long ago, they were still applicable today. So I remember, every night before I fell asleep, praying that God would do what he did for the lame man. To grant me just one miracle so I could walk again. I would imagine throwing off my finger braces, just as the man from the story had thrown away his crutches.

But God had other plans.

April. That was the name of my physical therapist. A short, dark-haired woman who pushed me through months of physical therapy. She was extremely patient and always greeted me with a smile every time I saw her. I was constantly frustrated with myself but she was always there, speaking words of encouragement (and strapping more weights to my ankles and wrists as I swam, which was so much fun).

I still remember my last session, when she (almost in tears) said how strong I was and how it inspired her, gave her hope. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized what a wonderful compliment that was and I regret that I brushed it off as nothing at the time. To this day, I still wonder about her, how she’s doing but I never knew her last name so that’s the end of that.

February. 2009. 10 years old. We had finally convinced my Mom that having a laptop wasn’t a bad idea and she fell in love with Google. So on another one of her researching sprees (that was notorious for lasting awhile) she came across an article that talked about kids having something called Celiac Disease and how it was often just diagnosed as JIA. We brought it up with my doctor and she just laughed and repeated for the billionth time that “I’ll have you know, I graduated from The University of Chicago and I am absolutely certain that it’s just JIA. But we (okay, mainly my mom) wanted to prove her wrong so she’d stop waving her resume in our faces every time we suggested alternatives. Thank God for the internet.

March. 2009. Thus commenced the first of my Mom’s tests to prove my doctor wrong. Her idea? Absolutely no dairy for the entire month. Extreme, yes. But even though therapy had enabled me to once again walk without limping, I didn’t know how I could go through it again. If I’d mentally and physically survive another relapse. So after at least 10 lectures from my Dad on how “If you really want to get better, you have to do whatever it takes! Stop skipping your meds, do your exercises…” And he always went on this long spiel about stretching which I can still repeat (Or that might be because I still get that talk from time to time). At the end of the month, I was a bit better. But this wasn’t the miracle my mom had hoped for (My doctor really ticked her off), so for the next month, she had an even better idea.

April. 2009.

glu·ten

[ˈɡlo͞otn]

NOUN

  1. a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease.

 

An entire month. One last shot. A chance for my mom to prove my doctor wrong and my one last shot at getting better.

We were ludicrously naive to what did and didn’t have gluten so I’m pretty sure the results could’ve been a lot better but they were drastic enough that we knew. Gluten was it. The miracle. There were still a few months till my next appointment so I continued with the gluten free lifestyle. My Dad wanted me to continue going dairy free as well, but puhlease! I was desperate, not crazy, so gluten free was all I did.

At the next appointment, my doctor was impressed with my results. My parents proudly mentioned that I was allergic to gluten and that’s why I was doing better. And she shot that idea down. I can still hear her: “Look, I went to The University of Chicago…we know what we’re doing and there’s no evidence backing up this celiac disease. It just took the meds a bit to kick in! Any other doctor will tell you this!” Ugh.

Over the months, I improved so much, that I was finally taken off of all meds. I remember how excited I was on my last appointment, February 9th, 2010.

Time passed and with every month, I continued to improve. I could walk, then run, and soon all prior events seemed like it had happened to a completely different person.

And as the memories faded, so did my concern for my health, I pretty much forgot about how Gluten had affected me and in 2013, I stopped my gluten free diet.

Big mistake.

March, 2014

I couldn’t move. There are 360 joints in the human body and I swear that all of them had stopped working. I couldn’t even lift a finger. I had felt completely fine when I went to bed and had no idea that I would relapse overnight. For what felt like forever, I laid there. Willing myself to move. I couldn’t open my mouth to cry for help because even my jaw had stopped working. Tears burned my eyes and blurred my vision as I tried not to cry. And I once again fell into the routine of forcing myself not to feel anything. Crying wasn’t going to fix anything.

After what I imagine must’ve been an hour, I felt my left arm loosen up. Then my left leg. Then my jaw finally loosened and a sob escaped my throat.

We had recently gotten rid of my old bed and was in the process of looking for another so I had been sleeping on a mattress on my bedroom floor. I remember it took me a good 20 minutes to get up off the floor. First, I rolled onto my side, then I hooked my left foot around my desk that was at the foot of my mattress. Then I began to slowly and painfully drag the rest of my body over to the desk. I remember stopping and staring at my desk for the longest time. The 2 feet I’d have to pull myself up might as well have been 200.

At this point, my spine started working again and I somehow managed to sit up. I still couldn’t uncrook my elbow, so instead I lifted my entire left arm and placed it on the surface of my desk. After falling down too many times to count, I managed to pull myself up off the ground.

You know how in Zombie movies, the zombies walk funny? Like one shoulder is jutted out and they’re always dragging one leg behind them? That’s how I imagined I looked.

I dragged myself out to the living room (which was on the complete other side of the house!). My dad was the only one up. I almost started crying again. My jaw had stiffened up again and I was so afraid to tell him because I knew that if I said the words aloud, I’d have to face them. Face IT. The arthritis. And I knew I couldn’t do that. I just wasn’t strong enough. I had broken in the worst way possible and in that moment, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be okay again.

Finally, after laying awkwardly on the couch for 20 or so minutes, I finally gathered up the last of my strength to speak.

“Dawd, I wrewalsped. I cwan’t move”

Every word hurt and every movement drained me of the last of my strength.

At this point, my mom had come out and my dad told her what had happened. They both helped me stand and told me to go take a really hot shower. My mom helped me to the bathroom. A feeling of helplessness crashed over me and I thought I’d drown if I didn’t try to do something using my own strength. I didn’t want my family to see me like this so I insisted on taking a shower and getting dressed on my own.

Hardest thing I’ve ever done.

With the shower drowning out all sound, I finally allowed myself to feel and face the situation at hand. I remember as I was crying, trying to find the bright side to whole situation. I told myself  I’d get better in hopes that if I said it aloud enough times, I might actually start to believe it. I knew it was all my fault which made it all the worse. We all encounter days that we don’t think we’ll ever live through and that was mine. All my childhood fears about not being able to walk, unable to move had come true and I’d brought it upon myself. All I knew for certain was that I didn’t want anyone to hurt the way I was hurting so when I got out of the shower, I smiled at my family, tried to laugh about how clumsy I was and to assure them that I was going to be okay.

The thing about lies is that if we repeat them enough, we will start to believe them ourselves. I said “I’ll be okay” so many times to myself and others that I began to believe it.

The first week was hell. I had to relearn how to do everything, how to dress, how to walk, even how to hold my spoon so I could feed myself. I refused all help and was determined to show the world that I was going to be just fine! For the first week, only my left side of my body worked. My hands were the worst. Damaged beyond full recovery. They still haven’t healed. And some days, I’m not sure they ever will.

As Spring blossomed into Summer, I slowly healed. I went back on a gluten free diet and life was starting to return to…normal? I still don’t what that is sometimes. My ankles returned to a working state and I once again had no problem walking and running. My back, shoulders, and all my other joints healed and I thought I was in the clear. But hey, it wouldn’t be my life if something else didn’t go wrong!

So again, the story continues:

July, 2014. That summer, I went on a week-long mission trip to another part of my state to help out families who needed home repairs, but couldn’t afford to hire someone. And on the second day, I injured my hand. It didn’t seem to serious. just a strained tendon. On my right hand. So I wasn’t able to help out as much as I wanted to but on the bright side, was able to spend time with the people we were helping. That’s a story for another day though. Kept the wrist brace on my hand for about two weeks, and when it came off, I thought it was just a simple hand injury and I would be able to move on with my life.

That was not the case.

Over the months following, my hands got worse, until I was having trouble griping things and I was once again in pain. A knot of who knows what (I think it might be scar tissue) formed around my knuckle on my first finger. And then we knew. It was time. Back to the hospital. The place I hoped to never have to go to again. But this time I was determined not to just be that poor girl with arthritis. I wanted to do something more. So in September of 2014, I started this blog and if you go back to those first posts, you can read about much of what I’m about to tell you.

October, 2014. I went back on medication and had to take a couple months of physical therapy. I was actually very avidly blogging at this point so as embarrassing as it will be for me, I will post a link so you guys can go and read about those months.

At the end of December, I finally finished physical therapy and my wrists got a bit better. I wish this story had a happy ending, but alas, the world is not a wish-granting factory but I find hope in the fact that it doesn’t end here. And that even though I have had so many days that I didn’t think I’d live through, I’ve had so many more that I wish to live again and again. Fact of the matter is, it is the pain I have endured that has make me stronger, kinder, more optimistic than I ever thought possible. And yeah, I have moments where I don’t like my life very much, but I love being alive. Alive is messy, and painful and we all go through stuff that will sometimes literally break us, but being alive is also one of the most extraordinary things in the universe.

Our pain is NEVER permanent and I know this pain is only temporary. This life is only temporary and if having RA has taught me anything, it’s that when bad times roll in, we have two choices. We can either choose to yell and cry, get angry at the universe,  for giving us pain, or…we can be hopeful, remain optimistic in the face of adversity. Find the bright side. Cause when you come to think of it, life is pretty amazing. RA may have robbed me of my body, of my health, but it has given me so much more. I am a better person because of it. I am optimistic in the face of pain. It has taught me that life is only precious because it ends, and we cannot let ourselves die on the inside while we are still alive. Am I strong? I don’t know. Am I hopeful? I’d like to think so. I don’t think I’m ever going to be as whole as other people my age but that is something I can live with.

I’m always in this life, going to have RA. But just as I have RA in my bones, I also have an optimistic spirit

And that is something that will never break.IMG_3338-2

 

 

 

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Current Status: Senoritis

I did a few personal posts back when I first started this blog and since I cannot find it in me to write a huge, deep thoughts post, I’m once again going to do something similar. As you can probably gather from the title, I’m suffering from Senoritis. I am SO close to finishing High School and it’s driving me crazy because I just want to be done already! I’ll be graduating Mid-May so I have about 2 months, 2 weeks to go! The rest of all this is just going to be an update on whats been going on in my life recently so don’t feel obligated to read any of this!

Anyways, this past Saturday, I FINALLY heard back from the honors program and if you follow me on Instagram (@kate_cruz17), you will already know that I did not get in. (You can read my essay here.) I’m actually not as disappointed as I initially thought I would be because I know I can apply again after my first semester and I also know that there will be plenty of opportunities for me, wherever I go. Also, I would like to thank y’all for actually caring about whether or not I got in and for encouraging me throughout the very long waiting process! xoxo

Also on Saturday, I got to, once again, attend Winter Jam! For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a Christian concert comprised of 10 bands who tour the east coast every winter. This year was my 7th year attending. Meaning I was only 11 years old when I first went!

And then today, (Sunday) I received a Presidents Volunteer Service Award for all the hours of volunteer work I’ve put in at a nearby Science Museum. It felt like a well timed reminder that I can make a difference, despite not getting into the honors program. I was once again reminded that life is what you make of it and even though I didn’t get in (and very well may never), there are still things I can achieve. Important things that can one day change the world.

  
 But the best part was watching my friend, receive her award. She’d been volunteering at the museum for 9 years but couldn’t make it today because she was in the hospital. Because of her spine, (I don’t know what the disease is called) she’s in a wheelchair and has had kidney failure amongst a number of other things. So she’s always in and out of the hospital. Since she couldn’t be there with us, I called her up on Skype so she could at least see everything that was going on.

The Volunteer Coordinator was giving out awards and such and then saved hers for last because we were waiting for one of the employees spouse to get to her room in the hospital. And right when he announced that she had won the award, the spouse walked into her  hospital room with her certificate and a ton of balloons. We all started cheering and she was laughing/crying and it was the sweetest thing to witness. We were all so proud of her and how she still manages to come to the museum with a smile on her face, despite her health.

Oh and I’m pretty sure I’ve only mentioned this on Instagram, but in a month or two (I haven’t set a definite date), I’ll be publishing a collection of 50 of my poems! The book will be called “Like a Lotus” and I can’t wait to see the finished product! There have been a few requests from friends of mine to publish my poetry, but I’m hoping the rest of y’all will buy a copy as well.

 

Hope you all have a lovely week! ~Kate

(I’m trying to get on a blogging schedule again and will hopefully have another post on Friday!)

 

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