Finding my voice

April 29, 2020

I remember sitting in my first ever class of high school, the third row of Mr. Strickland’s World History class, not knowing what the next four years would bring or who I would become. The class filled mostly with sophomores instantly struck me with fear. So, I sat quietly with the intention of protecting myself from the judgement of others.
In fact, for the next three years I did the same thing. I continued to worry way too much about what others thought and wonder when I would become comfortable in my own skin.
The struggle of finding my identity persisted and the social anxieties remained. But by my junior year, instead of continuing on a healthy path of self-discovery and growth, I did the opposite.
I fell into a deep, dark hole of restricting and obsessing over what I ate. I used it as a distraction from the fact that I didn’t like who I was, and hoped that it would change me into someone that was liked by myself and others. But I was severely mistaken.
When I look back on my life the past few years, although it may be cliché, I cannot help but picture a flower. I was a budding flower growing little by little. Then suddenly I hid from the sun. I slowly shriveled up and lost all of my color and beauty.
Consumed by this unhealthy obsession, I was drained of energy and lost every bit of personality I had. While numbing myself to current pain and future worries, I had numbed myself to any sense of enjoyment as well. I silenced myself more than I ever had before.
After being in the dark for so long, an ounce of sunlight was all it took to give me hope. I remember one day, while in recovery, I suddenly felt the feeling of being happy for no reason. It reminded me what it felt like to be myself. I didn’t know what “being myself” meant exactly, I couldn’t put it into words, but I just felt it. And it felt amazing.
Once I started recovering and living my life again, I also began to find my voice.
At senior retreat, I opened up about my struggles in front of my entire grade, which is something I never thought I would do. In that moment, something changed. By being vulnerable and using my voice, I silenced those fears of what others thought that I carried with me my entire life. Yes, I still feared that I would say something wrong or what people would think; however, I knew that I could use my voice to help others.
The rest of senior year, I did my best to live fearlessly and colorfully. I talked to people that I never talked to before, I committed myself to earning a spot on the lacrosse team, and I generally just tried to be myself. This does not mean that suddenly I began to live a perfect life. Life is far from perfect and I will always have my struggles. After four years of high school, I do not know exactly who I am or my purpose in life. But I did learn that when you open up and be your genuine self, life is a lot more enjoyable.

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