Dear Good Girl,
Picture, if you will a room in a basement in a quaint, unremarkable suburban town. The floor is littered with piles of clothes; the walls are decorated with posters of Paris, The Ramones, The Beatles, and Janis Joplin. And sitting on a tiny bed is a girl who is starving herself. This girl is starving herself out of guilt, out of frustration, out of fear. And she is crying because she feels like an absolute failure. She is already in debt, about to graduate college, and cannot imagine what the foreseeable future holds. She has no job prospects, did no internships or collaborations while in school, and she feels like she completely underutilized the many resources that were given to her. But it’s too late to fix any of it. The little girl stares at the poster of Paris and literally can never picture herself there in any realistic fashion. She is in an on and off relationship with a guy who also has no sense of direction or respect for those around him. She has cut herself out of her parents’ lives simply because she doesn’t want to hear all the ways that they’re disappointed in her. Her professors are confused at the dimming light that was once a bright, interested student, but can only do so much to help.
Her weekends are spent riding the clock at her retail job and then sneaking off to drink with her friends and make out with strangers. She frequents many shows with no-name bands at local dive bars, sleeps over on random couches or, worst mistake of all time, drives home drunk. School assignments are done in a 3 AM Adderall induced fog and turned in at the last minute for which she receives fairly good grades, despite being mostly made up B.S. (hello, English majors) Her heroes are manic pixie dream girls- figments of imagination made only to benefit the lives of the men she meets but has no depth set into the core of her being. She’s coasting. She is devoid of any character, any integrity, and any plan for what she wants her life to look like.
That girl was me.
If you asked me, I couldn’t even pinpoint the exact moment that something inside my heart clicked. But I know that once it did, I began to slowly see my true worth was in the content of my character, the way I treated others, and how hard I worked at achieving my goals. Even if I didn’t meet every single goal, I at least know I have tried everything in my power to make it happen. I learned what it was to go to bed satisfied at the work I had put in, or the people I chose to be around, or the thoughts I chose to listen to as Truth and those I dismissed as lies.
Fast forward to 2017. I have been happily married for 3 years (to a guy who has a dream for his life and is nice to his Mama!), have lived in two different states, I even have a savings account (with money in it, go figure), and kind of know what a 401k is. With my parents’ frantic urgings, I finally got the help I needed and started seeing an amazing counseling couple who could listen to me without any judgement or condemnation. Food is no longer seen as an enemy (I did marry a chef ironically enough), and exercise is not a punishment but rather a privilege. I write poetry that is no longer bitter angst against my drug addict birth mother but full of hope and encouragement. I am an assistant manager at a bookstore where I get to meet authors that I have loved since childhood, and some that I have recently discovered to be new favorites. I get to read books for free and share them with the people around me. I recently found myself at a dinner table surrounded by bestselling authors who started following ME on Instagram and who I now consider lovely friends.
Friend, I could break my life down into bite size pieces and say “ten steps to take if you want to change.” But I won’t. Because I know that every journey is different. The insanity of wonder that I find myself in didn’t come to me by following a formula. I won’t subject you to it.
Know only this, dear friend: you may feel like you have nothing going for you. You may, indeed, be very correct in that assumption about yourself. But know that the cycle of your life can get re-rigged by a simple step forward in a new direction. It may the wrong direction but don’t let that stop you! You never know what will happen unless you try. Your life doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. But if you’re tired of the rut that you’re in, you can step out of it. There is purpose in your life. Talk to someone you can trust. If there is anyone in your life that looks like they’re doing well, go to them and ask them to mentor you. You will not climb out from rock bottom overnight. It may feel like or even be years before you have anything to claim with satisfaction. But if you keep climbing, eventually you’ll find yourself out of the hole, gazing in wonder at the life you have before you.
Do not give up, do not second guess yourself. It will take work. It will take sweat and tears and maybe a bit of blood. It will be hard. Look down on no one unless you’re helping them up. Look up to no one unless you’re looking to the Heavens. Walk alongside everyone you meet with comradery and courage and speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. When you chip away at all the excess in your life that neither benefits nor inspires you, that’s where true North can be found. Run towards it, not because life is a race, but because you possess unbounding joy and limitless hope of an amazing, meaningful, and exciting path before you.