Dear 15-year-old Kelly,
Ten years from now, you’ll be finishing up your bachelor’s degree in English after years of trying to figure out what you want to do. You will be a published writer. You don’t realize this now but writing will become one of the most important parts of your life. Writing will help you grapple with your stutter. Writing will help you stop running away from the parts of yourself that you don’t like and refuse to accept now. Writing will help you figure out feelings you’re currently pushing down.
You’re about to embark on a journey that will last until you’re 20. Its already begun but you don’t know how it will skyrocket when you choose not to encounter your authentic self, your stutter, your sexuality, and other things. You unknowingly decide to run away from yourself because your scared of being more different than you already feel you are. You’re already feeling anxiety linger beneath the surface of your skin. When you begin running away from yourself, your anxiety will increase to an overwhelming level. You will wake up every morning, terrified to face the day. Your heightened anxiety will stay with you for the remainder for your teenage years. You know you’re different but you choose to see yourself as normal in aspects that you’re now experiencing because of medication. You still stutter even though you’re fluent. Just because you decide to look the other way doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But it’s how you’re coping with all that has happened to you.
The stories you choose to tell yourself now will shift as you get older. It’s only when you begin to tell yourself stories with truth in them five years from now will you stop running away yourself. You will realize how tired you are jumping from one thing to another and running around in circles for so many years. You will also realize how much of your teenage years you were mentally absent because of fear and anxiety. Fear to embrace all the parts of yourself that aren’t considered normal by societal standards. But your normal always has been and always will be a little different from everyone else’s normal.
You will be okay. I promise.
On Saturday, the 25th of August, I will be turning 25 years old. My golden birthday. For those of you who don’t know my story, I’ll give the short version. I was supposed to be born on November 25th. My mom had a liver transplant when she was 20 weeks pregnant with me on July 1st. I was born at 27 weeks on August 25th, 1993. I weighed 2 lbs 2oz when I was born and dropped to 1 lb 7 oz shortly after. I had to spend the first five months of my lifein the hospital and I was on oxygen for the first two years of my life.
Everyone who I have told this story to over the years has responded by saying I am a Miracle Baby. I’ve known this my entire life. It’s a weird thing to live my life knowing all that of this traumatic and scary events happened that I have no recollection of. How I spent the first five months in an incubator. How it must have been for my parents to see me so helpless. How nerve-wracking it must have been to have a child who was going to have challenges beyond their control. How worried my parents were about my later development of both walking and speech. There were so many things that could have gone wrong.
I know how lucky I am to be here. I know that had it been just a few years earlier, I would not have survived. I arrived at just the right moment where medical technology knew how to help premature babies have a good chance of surviving. Though I’ve developed later than most people throughout my entire life and I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that began as bronchopulmonary dysplasia when I was an infant, I’m so fortunate to not have any serious problems that have stuck with me from being born three months early.
We all have stories and events that define our lives. Miracle Baby was put on me long before I could comprehend anything about life. It’s been a part of who I am. I don’t know what life is like without this story that’s still mindblowing to understand. Every so often, I will stop and think, that really happened. It’s crazy to think about. I’ve been given a unique perspective from what happened to me when I was a baby. Every year on November 25th, I give a little moment to the day that seems so far away from my actual birthday. I think about the person I could have been had I been born on that date. But I’m also thankful for the person I am and for the life I’m so fortunate to live.
On my birthday, I always watch the news broadcast that was done on my early arrival. My mom and dad had a news story on them a month earlier to talk about my mother’s liver transplant while being pregnant. The first few years I would watch the news broadcast, I would think I was looking at someone else’s life because that’s the only way my young mind could comprehend this incredible story. It was only when I turned 12 that I began to process the fact that this story is mine, that little baby that looks like a tiny baby doll is me. This year on my golden birthday, I’m reflecting on how far I’ve come in the last twenty-five years and how all that I’ve gone through has only made me stronger.
Thousands of feet up in the air,
I’m trapped in this metal tube.
I feel dizzy and I’m not spinning.
Overheated from the lack of air circulation.
Head throbbing that will eventually turn into a migraine after I land.
I close my eyes and the spinning becomes faster.
Minutes move along like hours.
I can’t read the book I want to read.
I can’t look at my phone for longer than 5 seconds,
Just long enough to change the song.
I look forward to the blue chair in front of me.
Nothing is working.
The amount of feeling awful comes in waves.
I sleep for a minute or two, just enough to numb the nauseousness
before the turbulence causes the spinning to return.
I feel like I’m going to throw up but I know I won’t.
I don’t get physically sick from motion sickness.
I just feel awful as my mood plummets to the ground we’re flying over.
I repeat these words in my head because I can’t write this down.
I’m hoping I will remember this when I do.
I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.
For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.
In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!
If you want to read my entire essay, “Finding My Voice,” you can purchase Colorado’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction on Amazon or Z Publishing.
Internet culture has its pros and cons. With sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, you can interact with like minded people without leaving the comfort of your couch or putting on clothes. You can stay up to date with friends and family with the click of a button. You can spend too much money when shopping online for items you don’t need but are 86% off. There are also major downsides for spending anytime on the Internet. Sharing your opinion or life can become personal when someone decides to threaten you over what you’ve chosen to post. People don’t realize that just because their anonymous doesn’t mean anyone won’t take the threat personally. I’ve often seen people say whatever they like, not thinking about what their words mean or say about them. Words words still sting, no matter how they get to you. Words hurt more than people realize. There are ups and downs to everything. Learning how to protect yourself online by blocking trolls and listening to your gut reaction when something doesn’t feel right is key when being involved with Internet culture.
August 12th, 2018
I love when I’m in a place and my phone isn’t on the forefront of my mind.
This is so important for someone like me who seemingly can’t detach from the lure of always needing to be updated on who posted what and when on Instagram.
It’s an addiction I’ve been trying to control for a while. Habits that I’ve blissfully unaware of harder to acknowledge than one would assume.
Denial and ignorance take over my mind for a long time until my awareness over my routine becomes too strong to the time that falls out the window due to too much time scrolling through stranger’s photos on the app that’s different to detach from.
It’s only when I’m on my own and away from good cell coverage that I can step back and see what life is like when it doesn’t revolve around feeling the need to know who, what, when, and speculate on why.
Although, I had this feeling when walking through New York. Being out and about in the city, I barely thought about what could be happening on the addicting app. It was another view into a life where technology wasn’t sucking up the time in my day.
My goal is to get to a place where I don’t feel the need to check Instagram too many times a day when I’m in good cell coverage or have WiFi.
For now, deleting the app will have to do.
(Some of this is rambling, some of this is incoherent. I’m tired and excited to spend the day not on my phone.)
Like previous generations, millennials contain all different kinds of people.
Passionate people. Lazy people. Stupid people. Thinkers. Scientists. Writers. Makers. Creators.
Yet people, specifically the media, consistently box us together.
I saw a headline a couple of weeks ago about a teacher who said she couldn’t teach millennials because they aren’t willing to learn.
This is both untrue and unfair.
Yes, some millennials are unfocused.
Yes, some millennials are lazy.
Yes, some millennials don’t want to learn.
But making a statement specifically stating all millennials are untraceable is an insult to those of us who have gone to school and more school because we dream of doing what we love.
You can’t box hardworking young adults with lazy, entitled ones.
Old generations put the blame on us while forgetting who raised us.
This isn’t meant to be hurtful, I’m tired of being grouped with labels I cannot relate to.
Every generation has a variety of different people. Stop putting the bales on millennials. We are ALL responsible for the constructs of the society we’re currently living in and it’s important to take responsibility for all of our actions in order to teach future generations to learn from all of us.
Every generation has people who aren’t great. Just because some millennials aren’t willing to be taught doesn’t mean it applies to people born in the early 80s to the late 90s.