I remember being in eighth grade, and it felt like I had the world at my fingertips – the universe was my oyster.
God, I was so young, naive and so full of prepubescent life.
I know, I am making myself sound so old now and I’m only twenty years old – granted, it feels like an eternity ago.
But you see, back then, I had my “road map” all figured out, and I can hardly recall a moment where I was even discouraged back then, not even a little bit. If I fell down, whether that be failing a math test or upsetting a friend, I got right back up on that horse.
Back then, I was on fire.
Being a pre-teen is that deliciously wonderful in-between period where you’re starting to know what you want, you’re presented with your first real responsibilities, but you are still clearly not an adult. In a shorter sentence: it’s exciting, full of youth, and experiences.
It’s kind of funny because most thirteen and fourteen year old don’t exactly know what they want at that time. All that is on their minds are soccer practices, games with mom and dad cheering them on, those middle school plays that everyone seemed to get into . . . and of course, those horrible dances where everyone would stand around awkwardly, staring at their first real crush from across the gymnasium floor hoping they would look back.
I’m not saying that those kids didn’t have dreams nor am I belittling them, but that’s the typical time frame when things are generally more . . . weird. And oh, things were weird for me, too, no doubt about it. But thing was, I was unstoppable Julia, and I had goals that felt far more wide and expanded than any other junior high, adolescent fourteen year old.
I continued to obtain those goals and those dreams as I transformed into my high school self, and those ambitions did not leave my side for one minute. I wanted to be a writer, a dancer, a film director, as well as a singer. Though I was fifteen, or sixteen I knew that I would have to work hard so I could make those dreams a reality and while some of the dreams dipped in and out like most teenagers’ dreams do, there was one that stayed consistent throughout the years – to be a writer.
I had the spirit, the drive, the never ending curiosity to succeed.
But as I grew older, specifically around the my Junior year of high school, these things started to feel unattainable. I found myself having to work harder than the average student to achieve the same results, and I was constantly dealing with something that was unfamiliar to me – lack of self esteem and confidence issues with my intelligence. I struggled specifically with math, and my difficulties with understanding the concept of the subject became ever more highlighted in high school. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of studying, tutoring, and tears I went through just to pass a math class and the whole time all I wanted was to get back to my golden era, as I like to call it, the time where I thought I knew what was going on.
But I was growing up, and this was the real world – as much as I hate that term, it stands true. I didn’t want to work harder than everyone else, I wanted to keep my active social life and I wanted to believe that I could make it through without math tutoring or staying up late nights studying for an anatomy and physiology test.
My friends at that time had outstanding grades or were constantly on high honor roll. They would talk about how they aced a test without studying for even a little bit. This definitely made me feel self-conscious and that feeling began to eat away at the part of me that had held my “spark”, my determination.
I could literally feel myself becoming weaker, and more discouraged.
When I was eighteen we discovered that I had a learning disability. I remember sitting in a conference room at my high school’s counselor’s office with tears welling in my eyes when we figured out why I had such a hard time learning certain things. The reason why it took so long to find was because I scored so high in English on my ACT, that the math score and science scores were overlooked. I was upset that it had taken this long, but nonetheless I was relieved, and slightly happy to know that English was still my strength, the one thing that I knew I could always use to get me by in life – my passion, the part of me where I didn’t feel completely ignorant. It was almost like it was all that I had.
But deep down, I knew that wasn’t true.
I just had to dig deep enough to realize I was smart, witty, bright and full of wonderful ideas. But like learning, it took awhile in some of these aspects.
As of today, I’m almost finished with my first year at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as a transfer student. It has honestly been a crazy year, filled with discouragement, encouragement, anxiety, self-reassurance, lots and lots of tears, being stubborn, continuing to doubt myself and my abilities, and becoming one hundred percent, without a doubt, tired of being in a math class! There have been parts of me this year, especially the second semester, that doubted my major, English, and whether or not I wanted to continue to pursue it.
It is in these moments where that nagging, little discouraging, evil voice will creep into the good, ambitious part of my brain where my dreams lie and disturb my peace.
Sometimes I just want to scream and shout, throw something, punch something and curl up in a corner and pity myself.
But that’s only sometimes.
This year hasn’t been entirely like that, thank god. I’m trying to remember that there are parts of it that have been good moments where I should feel proud of myself. In fact there are a lot of those moments. They are moments where I found myself acing long gruesome essays, working long and hard on speeches, realizing the sometimes you may not receive the best grade, but taking pride remembering how hard I worked and the effort I put in, and learning how to go to people more often for help. I have to learn to hold onto those times where I can sit and tell myself I did a good job, instead of focusing on the negative.
It doesn’t come easy to me though, that’s why I am currently working on it right now.
And those are the two key words: