Just Being Honest

November 18, 2008
By Anonymous

At what point do people decide who they are and what they want to become? How do we know what truly makes us happy and what simply provides a false sense of security? Perhaps in my journey to answer these questions I caused a little more trouble, made some worse decisions, and had a bit of a tougher time than most do. Or maybe, I was just being honest.

Young, smart, quiet, and innocent, I was always praised for my good heart and good grades. I moved around constantly growing up and was not adept at making friends. I had no friends at all growing up, but I had a loving family, and that should have been all that mattered. High school soon came and along with that came a new school, not inside the city, but in a different town. "A lot is going to change over the next four years, but never forget who you are because that will never change,” my mom told me on the first day of high school, or "my new life", as I called it. I can still see the look on her face when she said it; I can still hear how proud she was and the love in her voice as she spoke.

In the last four years I have experienced things some could not imagine. It is hard to say where I went wrong or what caused me to seemingly run my short but promising life into the ground. There were plenty of mistakes made. I lost love for my family and myself, replacing this love for drugs and popularity. I have lied, cheated, stolen, hurt others, and hurt myself; I pushed away those who loved me and pulled closer those who used me. I have spent more time in the last month analyzing what happened than I spent thinking about my decisions in four years. No matter what I did or how low I sank, no mistake was worse than the simplest: I forgot who I was. Simply put, I forgot the person who I really was and started to chase who I thought I wanted to be. I was raised to dream big, work hard for what I want, and do whatever I have to do to get what I want. These are amazing qualities when you are a child and want good grades or a toy. These are also useful when you are an adult and want a good career or a family. How do these qualities help when you are 14 and all you want is friends, popularity, and acceptance? Perhaps I took trying to fit in to the extreme and, for a while, I thought I was always that underlying individual who did not make an appearance until ninth grade. I watched myself work hard for everything I had in those 14 years. I watched myself lose it all in a few short months.

Suddenly, I had everything I thought I wanted. Everyone knew me, my social life was never dull, I had money, friends, drugs, power, and everything a teenage party girl could want. I was accepted, respected, and known. That was what I wanted right? The one question I wish I would have asked myself is: “Where will I be able to go with this?” While everyone was in middle school, they were learning who they were, making mistakes, meeting friends, and having fun. I was working, studying, and getting my life together. Then when everybody was ready to settle down and prepare to be adults I wanted to have fun and make mistakes. Now, I finally realize that getting what I wanted meant giving up what I had. This year, karma took everything for which I worked. I no longer have good grades, I do not have any true friends, and it looks like I have nothing going well for me. What I do have though is who I am, what I have experienced, and what I have learned.

The last 17 years have been an act, who I thought I should be. I was like an actress so stuck in my role that I thought it was reality. Unfortunately it was real, but it was not me. I spent so much time hiding the real me from everyone, including myself, that I forgot who that person was. Now that I found who I was trying to be for 17 years, the curtain is closing and the act is over, but the show has not ended. I needed to lose everything, to hit rock bottom and be completely disgusted by the way I have acted, to stop and take an ‘intermission’ to collect my thoughts. I needed to learn from my mistakes, not be ashamed of them. I needed to see myself at my absolute worst to see how truly great I could be. It took me to hate who I was, how I was, and what I was turning into to realize how much easier it was to love and respect myself. It is a scary feeling when you realize that you are going absolutely no where in life, and it is ten times scarier trying to fix it. If I thought hitting rock bottom was hard, I needed to imagine how difficult it would be trying to get back to the top. When I fell, I did not know who I was. When “Act Two” starts and the curtain opens, I am going to stand up as Stephanie. I am a leader, a soldier, and a go-getter. If I could not stop my own drive and determination, then tell me who can.

The author's comments:
In our teenage years we mold ourselves into the person we are going to become. Most teens feel confused, lonely, and uncertain about their life and where it is going. With this essay I hope to show teens that they are not alone in the challenges they are facing. Also, I would hope to show that popularity, money, and respect mean nothing if you lose sight on who you truly are.

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