Change.

 

Change is gathering up ahead.

I’m trying all of my adjectives.

A little while ago I was talking to my friend, Jewel,about how, when I was a little girl, I had this vision of my future self. The vision was very clear:

I’ll be independent, living in my own apartment, working a really cool job and helping people. I’ll be the person people turn to for support, understanding, laughter and ideas. I’ll have a worth of knowledge and wisdom to share. I’ll be sociable, confident, proud and happy with where I am in life. I’ll be glamorous because I’m free and comfortable with who I am.

Ringing any bells?

It suddenly hit me that somehow, without consulting the picture I had painted before I even turned twelve years old, I managed to create and execute a plan that would allow me to live exactly the way I hoped I would.

Magic? Truth.

~~~

Among the things that have already changed this past year is that I’m no longer The Sick Kid. Sure, I’m still sick (she says so nonchalantly), but I think that not being surrounded by healthy kids all day made the title fade a little. It’s not how I think of myself anymore. It carries much less weight in the equation these days.

And yet… I am sick. How will I manage?

The Change, it’s all-encompassing. I’ll be starting with a completely blank page. I’ll be living and working with people I don’t know. Absolutely everything around me will change and be different than it is right now. Three months from now I’ll have a whole new world.

I find myself in need of a reminder that that’s a good thing. That’s why I’m writing about Change – because it’s desired. It’s healthy. It’s what I want and what I’ve been waiting for all of this time.

Take a deep breath and look around. Appreciate where you are right now before it all changes. Don’t let a single good thing pass you by. Take snapshots of moments with the people you love and admire. Spread your arms and soak in the feeling of the present. Change is coming.

Get your adjectives ready.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

I walked off an old me… And now, breathe deep, I’m inhaling. –Alaska, Maggie Rogers (in love with this song!)

{By the way, please note that this is filed in a new category called “Changed.” Future posts will also be in “Changed.” Welcoming in a new era, three years on…}

 

One Hell of a Year – 19

18 started with uncertainty, exhaustion and a dramatic collapse. I was plagued by the question marks and the sorrow of regret, immersed in the emotional storm of goodbyes and the pre-graduation pressure. My strength was failing me, just when I needed it most. I couldn’t help but reflect on the year I had had and feel as though it might have gotten the better of me. I graduated and said goodbye to a place that had been my home for the best and worst years of my life. A few days later I fulfilled my dream of cutting my hair short, and embraced the new look as a symbol of the new phase in my life.

18 continued with me starting my volunteer position and feeling lonelier than I’d felt in a long time. Starting from scratch in a new environment was a challenging, frustrating and upsetting process for me, and my friends weren’t around. They too, were going through their own processes of change. It took some getting used to.

I wasn’t quite sure where my place was. High school wasn’t my home anymore, but the foundation wasn’t my home yet. It was strange, and at the same time sort of freeing.

A few months in and everything had settled down. By ‘settled down’ I mean ‘picked up’. I had so much going on – because things were going well – that I very nearly couldn’t handle it all… And I loved every minute of it. My friends and I adjusted and the time we spent together became true quality time. My memory and my diaries are peppered with our adventures, our birthday celebrations and our (many) lazy, lounging catch up sessions. We realized that not being together all the time meant having countless stories to share, and we appreciate every moment we get to spend together now. We are evolving and so is our friendship. I love them so much. I’ve also made new friends along the way, and we’ve had our own share of wonderfully random adventures…

The foundation became my home (understatement). I’ve always tried to be kind to other people, but this year it was my job to do so. I made people’s lives better and I made magic real. I’ve grown so close to the people I work with and we’ve had such a beautiful time together. The staff meetings, the lunches, the office banter, the events, the work itself… It’s been my everything. They know me: they know how much I care, they know what I’m capable of and they know just what to say and just when to say it. I’ve learned so much from them and I’ve loved feeling embraced by their love and appreciation.

As 18 started to come to a close I started to figure out what my next step would be. My goal was to know my plan by my birthday and my plan succeeded. I’ll be finishing my year with the foundation in two months and moving out of my parent’s house to do another year at a new non-profit. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited about something so inherently scary. Realizing how little time I have left with the foundation has made it all very real. I’ll miss them and I’ll miss being one of them, but I will never, ever, forget how much it has all meant to me.

18 is over, and it was better than anything I ever expected it to be. I’m overjoyed to say that looking back, I feel proud. This year did not get the better of me – I made it what it was. I truly lived it to the fullest. 18 will go down in history as one hell of a year…

This year I’ve realized that I love who I am as an adult, I’ve wasted way less time worrying about things I can’t control and I’ve learned how not to give a fudge and just cut myself some slack.

This year I changed my ringtone to “Here Comes the Sun”, and that really says it all.

19 – bring it on.

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. –What A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong

 

“You can take the girl out of the foundation but you can’t take the foundation out of the girl.”

I Hate Everything – A Tale of Optimism

For quite a while now my first thought every single morning has been, “I hate everything”. Well, to be fair, it’s usually a word that starts with “F”. Or “S”. But the second thought has been, “I hate everything.” It’s like the soundtrack to my life. *

Why? Because I’ve been in immense pain. But why have I been in immense pain? Because I’m busy. And that’s why it’s a phrase of optimism.

You’ve known me for a very long time – remember when I turned 16 and started freaking out about growing old and being sick? – and you know I’m big on self-reflection. I’m astounded when I think about how much I’ve grown in the past seven months, on so many fronts. Besides all kinds of official things – being upgraded to an adult credit card (not below 18 anymore), having no more age-related driving restrictions, having control over my own medical everything – there are the things that are less obvious.

I’m not here to list all those things. Normally that would be a classic post, but today I’m content with just the knowledge that I have grown. Today, I’d like to talk about the fact that I’m busy (and therefore I hate everything).

Since September I’ve been volunteering with a certain charity, and in the past few months I’ve had to make a decision: either find another place to volunteer for a year, or go on to university. I took the higher education entrance exam (psychometric test) and got a high enough grade to enter the excellence program and receive a 50% scholarship (!) at my school of choice. Attending the course, preparing for the exam and still working (i.e. volunteering) three days a week took a lot out of me, but the success felt amazing. So that covered the technical aspect of university for me, but I was left with the question: am I ready?

I’ve never told you where I live, what my real name is or what my religion is, and you’ve never seen a picture of me. You know no truly identifying factors (which I’m sure has driven some of you crazy). I have my reasons for this, but the reason I love the most is that this blog is the opposite of real life. In the real world, the first things you (usually) know about a person are what they look like, the part of the world they live in, their name and maybe their religion. It takes longer to learn about their personalities and their feelings, if you ever do. In this world, our world, the only things you know about me are my personality and my feelings.

Which is why I’m still not telling you anything, including where I’m volunteering or what country I live in. I wrote all of this simply to explain that in my country, it’s not weird that I’m not starting university at 18. In fact, even if I go when I’m 20, I’ll still be on the younger end of the scale. Generally speaking, I’m much older than my age suggests, so I’m not worried about fitting in socially with an older crowd, but I am worried about my feelings. I’m so separate from my contemporaries as it is, and if I jump shoot choosing a profession, studying and starting a career I fear I’ll feel galaxies away from everyone.

It has come down to the fact that I have doubts. I’ve decided that the fact that I doubt I’m ready to start is enough to decide I’m not ready. I’m not the sort to waste my time and I take things very seriously, so I’m not going to start until every aspect feels right.

Which leaves me with finding another place to invest my heart for a year. I’ve been busy because I’m following leads and putting myself out there, all the while keeping up my regular work schedule. Sprinkle in tutoring, physical therapy, exercise, doctor appointments, additional work events and the occasional (*gasp*) attempt at fun, I am exhausted.  

So my brain is occupied with hating everything the majority of the time because I constantly feel like I’m dragging my body around and running myself into the ground (please note that I’m still taking care of myself – I haven’t aborted the mission of health just yet). When the thought first started popping into my brain I was kind of amused – it is kind of a funny way for my mind to have phrased my displeasure – but I recognize that it’s a sign of me being proactive with my own happiness.

I am my own person, and I am making the decisions that are right for me. I’m not just sitting here, feeling miserable, and hoping I do something worthwhile with my time. I’m already doing it. I’m being smart about my life. I’m building my path from scratch and turning it into something I can be proud of. Even if I don’t always realize it, I know that every step I’ve been taking recently has been an offspring of a superpower: optimism. Somehow I’ve been operating under the assumption that I have the ability to make everything work out.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why hating everything means I am a true optimist. Farewell.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

We’re on the right side of rock bottom. –Rock Bottom, Hailee Steinfeld

*I literally push myself up into a seated position on my bed and think, “I hate everything.” Then I go to the bathroom and think, “I hate everything.” As I’m getting dressed, I’m thinking, “I. Hate. Everything.” When I find my way to the kitchen and start making breakfast, I’m just a broken record of, “I hate everything”. It’s quite the life I lead, my friends.

Beach Happiness

Last year, on a particularly hard day, I spoke on the phone with my friend, Beatrice, about why we were both so depressed. We had many reasons, and this led us to a discussion about the different types of sadness. The list covers a lot of ground, including: hypothetical sadness, death sadness, projecting sadness, jealousy sadness, bittersweet sadness, extreme weather sadness… we ended up listing about 75 types.

 

After half an hour of compiling this list, I forced her to help me come up with the different types of happiness. Surprisingly, we found this extremely difficult. When we challenged ourselves to think of the bad it poured out of us as though we’d been mentally preparing our whole lives for the moment we’d need to recount it. But the good? It was slow to come to mind. Over the course of a few days, with the help of a couple more friends, we eventually had a list consisting of around 50 types of happiness.

 

One of these types is beach happiness. Neither Beatrice nor I thought of it initially, but it rings true for all of my peers and I. When I’m on the beach I just feel… peaceful, I suppose. The sound of the waves replaces the sound of worry in my mind.

IMG_1896

I stand on the beach looking out at the sea and marvel at how tiny I am compared to it all. If my life is so small compared to the world, then the problems in my life amount to nearly nothing. I’m never one to belittle my own suffering or the hefty challenges I face every day, but during certain rare moments I truly believe they aren’t all that important. The beach supplies the majority of these moments.

 

Yesterday was an odd summer day in the middle of February so I flocked to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend. The water was freezing but I almost prefer feeling numb to feeling my normal pain. The smell of the water and the sunscreen smeared on my (pathetically) sensitive skin remind me of summers past, in just the way that bug spray reminds me of hiking trails around my childhood hometown.

 

My mom reminded me that one year I had a birthday party at the beach and that I hated it. I remember the reasons for this being that sand got on my birthday cake and watermelon, that we never had time for the dance party or limbo (I’ve always been quite the planner), and that a boy from my class (who was not invited) saw me in my bathing suit (mortification. I hate you, Speedo.)

 

My mother remembered the reason being that I got salt water in my eye and that at that exact moment the love affair between the sea and I became a tale of regret and disappointment.

 

Safe to say the discord has dissipated, and I have kept a special place in my heart for the beach throughout it all. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m forced to miss out on fun – a seemingly harmless substance the majority of young adults seek and occasionally experience. I’m more of an 80-year-old stuck in an 18-year-old’s body type, and I have to “take care of my health”. Which means I often need to miss out on all sorts of experiences because fun has a clear consequence for me – pain. Pain leads to sadness, but mainly, pain leads to more pain. More pain leads to trouble sleeping, which leads to extra fatigue, which leads to extra pain, which leads to even more trouble sleeping… it’s only one of the viscous cycles that people with chronic illnesses need to live with.

 

But just because I have less fun doesn’t mean I have to be less happy. This year I’ve been privy to a few types of happiness that weren’t on my list before: proving myself happiness, spreading joy happiness, professional growth happiness and above all – somehow, it will all be okay happiness.

 

At the very least, that’s how I feel after I go to the beach.

 

Love,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Take me back to the basics and the simple life, tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease. –Ease, Troye Sivan

 

Have a suggestion to add to my lists? Share in the comments below please!

Believing in Bloom

Sometimes I just feel it’s only me.

According to my brain and heart, there is Truth, Magic and Bloom.

Truth is personal. It belongs to each of us and to none of us. Whatever my Truth is, it’s legitimate, and whatever yours is, it is too. I try to see and understand each person’s Truth in the way that they do. You can’t deny the validity of somebody else’s world.

Magic is something I can’t seem to pin down… Magic is fleeting moments of pure joy, along with moments of awe and appreciation for everything that this incredible world holds. Magic is seeing the bigger picture and knowing it’s the little things. Magic is… hope. It is not something I control, but it’s something I’m learning to preserve in order to survive. To survive in the hopes I will reach:

Bloom.

Bloom is something I will only truly be able to achieve once I am better. Once I am healthy. Once I am free: released from this prison that coils bars around my bones and marches jail keepers around my core. You know my pain and you know my frustration – I feel no closer to health than I have any of the multiple times I’ve cried to you in writing about how hopeless I am.

Therefore, Bloom feels like an abstract concept that I run the risk of never really understanding. I’m not sure I believe in Bloom. Will it all just pass me by? It’s scary to think about it, because what if I find nothing but disappointment? What if I never get to Bloom?

~~~

Still I wonder. So I take a step back and evaluate my life. What I’ve done thus far with the circumstances I have been given makes me proud. I can declare, with my whole heart, that I am doing well. As always, “still so many ups and downs”, but I don’t take for granted all that I have been managing. When I compare now to this time last year… I know so much more than I did then. I just don’t know enough about Bloom. I’d like to believe it will happen naturally. Must sustain myself until then.

~~~

According to my brain and heart:

Bloom is what my Truth will be once Magic decides to come and stay.

~~~

Ella.

Song Quote:

I wish I could live a little more, look up to the sky not just the floor, I feel like my life is passing by and all I can do is watch and cry… I miss it when life was a party to be thrown, but that was a million years ago. -Million Years Ago, Adele

(I think everyone must relate to this song so differently… the first time I heard it I cried because I felt it perfectly summed up how I feel about being sick. Now when I cry I think to myself “My life is passing by and all I can is watch and cry”.)

~~~

P.s. This post is loaded with references to earlier pieces I’ve written and posted on this blog since I created it nearly three years ago. Did you catch them?

Goody Goody

Change is change and takes adjustment, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. Things are picking up, settling in, taking off. It just feels like everything has fallen into place. True to myself I know how to recognize when things are good, and right now, things are good. And I love the weather.

The pain is still here but I’m taking care of myself. The sadness is still here, but there’s satisfaction to combat it. The loneliness is still here, but it has less of a sting to it.

I feel happy again. I feel like I have more good moments than bad moments. I’m crying less. I’m doing more. I’m watching a lot of Gilmore Girls. I’m busy again. I’m seeing my friends more. Or rather, enjoying the time I spend with my friends more than before. I feel like I have what to say, I have what to share, and I have what to be proud of again. I’m interesting and complex and funny and lively. Again.

I wish I could sleep. I mean, it would be helpful, you know? But you can’t have everything. I like that even when it takes me hours to fall asleep, I don’t talk myself into a frenzy. I write stories in my mind like I used to when I was little.

I feel curiosity for the first time in a long time. Being out of school has reminded me that I love learning and I love knowledge, and it’s a joy that is precious. I like surveying the months since graduation in my mind and realizing I’m now out of the dip. I like my clothing and I like how I look. I like that I’m good at staying in touch with people. I like that I persevere. I like that my diary hasn’t been as depressing these past couple weeks.

I like that I’m starting a course soon where I’ll meet new people and make new friends. Winter romance? A possibility.

On that note,

Ella

Song Quote:

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces. -Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles

At this point I refer you back to “An Ode to the Changing of the Clocks”, because it is once again how I feel and I’ve been pining to feel this way for months.

I Wonder

Please give me a pass for sounding incredibly pathetic right now, but I have a mental catalog of really great hugs I’ve received. I suddenly thought of someone I haven’t seen in about a year who gave me a great hug the last time we saw each other. It was a lingering hand hug – you know, the kind where the hug is officially over but neither removes their hands quickly. It occurred to me that I might have written in my journal about that hug, so I started digging through my drawers and retrieving old diaries.

As I was looking through them, page by page, I was struck by how much I have changed and how little my life has. The entries from last year could be the ones from yesterday, and the ones from two years ago could be the ones I’ll write tomorrow. I write with more finesse, maybe, or a slight twang of additional maturity, but I’m still dealing with the same difficulties. No matter how I change, advance, grow or learn, I can’t get away from this pervasive problem of my life.

I never imagined I would graduate high school and be sick. I’ve accepted a lot and have a lot of accepting left to do, but nothing can alter the fact that I’m greatly displeased with what is happening in my life. The things I’ve been writing here for over two years, about how little control I have over what happens to me and how useless hopes seem to be, are as relevant as they’ve ever been.

Now don’t get me a wrong, I’m a pro at making the best of whatever situation I find myself in. I believe in seeing and appreciating the good as I live, and remind myself every day how important it is not to see good only in retrospect. Not to look back on a time in my life and see some good aspect of it that I didn’t realize was there at the time. So as I suffer and smile through it I make lists in my mind of everything that is good, and this helps me. Helps me some, but not quite enough. Not enough to cover the sadness.

The sadness. It runs deep, maybe through my veins or my nerves, maybe in my heart or in my soul. I prefer to be alone with it, to retreat at times and allow myself to feel it as it courses, because I have a lot to cry for. I have a lot to be thankful for, but also a lot to cry for. The pain is a constant that seems to stem from my very core and that makes no sense, but the sadness I understand from the inside out. It’s there in the silence and it resonates in music, it thrums in my ears as I walk and buzzes in front of my eyes as I sleep. It’s a part of me, an integral component in my days. I live with it and it lives in me. But I no longer wonder why.

I try to remember that maybe the fact that I can’t imagine my future means it is destined to be better than anything I ever could imagine. I read my diaries and see the process of becoming who I am right now, a person I genuinely like. I can’t put my finger on just when it happened, but I have become an adult. I think practically and reasonably about decisions in my life, and I spend so much of my time now thinking of what I’d like to do with it. What do I want to study? What shall my profession be? Where do I want to live? (How will I afford that?) Which is the ladder I would like to climb?

It’s a quick step to the spiral of anxiety, realizing no matter how I plan I cannot conquer this disease and cannot live to my fullest potential. I harbored a secret hope that after finishing high school I would start to feel better and that I’d slowly but surely rise out of the pain. But alas, I’m just as sick as I was before, and I need to start figuring out how to manage adulthood in my current state. This point in my life is about proving that even if I am sick, I can still be okay.

I remember my childhood so vividly. I remember crying and thinking that good tears should not go to waste, trying to find a parent in the house and show them my state to receive some extra hugs. The real world doesn’t dole out any extra hugs when I suffer. I no longer wonder why.

I am still, in my essence, happy. But I am still, in my reality, sad. I mourn for the things I cannot have, cannot do and cannot be. I mourn.

There’s doubt. Isn’t there always? I doubt that I will ever get better. I doubt that I will live to see a time of peace in the world. I doubt that… that…

Well, this leads us to a sore spot. I know I’m lovable, okay? I know that. It’s not one of the things I doubt. It’s just something that has yet to be proven. I feel so silly for writing this, but in a way I feel it should be recorded just the same as all my other feelings.

No one has taken an interest. I’m the last of my friends… I’ve never been asked out, never been kissed, never been the object of someone’s crush. And I know my time will come, that I just haven’t met the right person yet, and that we each have our own timelines. But it makes me wonder. I wonder: why hasn’t anyone taken an interest?

When will it be my time? My time to be healthy, my time to be loved, my time to be free…

I wonder and will continue to wonder, but one thing can be said for sure, and that is that time doesn’t stop. In this moment I am older than I have ever been before and the youngest I will ever be again, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. Maybe life won’t disappoint me.

I know we’ll be fine when we learn to love the ride.

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

If I fell in love a thousand times, would it all make sense? –Sense, Tom Odell