This year I looked in the mirror. I gazed into my reflection without the words of judgement, completely objective. From there, I dove in fulfledgely into discovering every aspect of that girl looking back at me. What are her fears? Her loves? Her passions? In 12 months of active exploration, I have emerged from the jungle with a new appreciation for myself and a new semblance of who the heck I really am.
This year I graduated high school, marking the end of a life of comfort and predictability. I spent the summer holding tight to the memories that I had created the past four years and reflected on the transformation that occurred from the beginning to end of my high school education.
This year I turned the page in my life past my dance chapter. I performed in my last recital and tied up my pointe shoes one last time. Yet in doing so I learned that the cessation of dance class did not necessarily end my dancerhood; bedroom ballet sessions and finding self expression through the beauty of movement was forever within my grasp.
This year I stepped foot on foreign ground. I forced my terrified self to face my fear of crossing the ocean in nothing but a flying hunk of metal. In the submersion of my fear, I was liberated. I was reminded that, yes, I could. Too often I would tell myself that my greatest aspirations were off limits because my able body and mind could only handle so much. But I was wrong. In the darkness, I found my own light. I then found fulfillment in the bustling streets of Barcelona, surrounded by a culture unique from my own, my mind soaking in every bit of my atmosphere. I then left the city and escaped to the beach. Mallorca was where I was reunited with my spanish soul sister, Marina, and was simultaneously reunited with a peace I had not felt in years. I floated in the salty waters of the mediterranean and sat quietly with myself without judgement, without anxiety of the future, without pain. I simply was.
This year I started my first semester of college, attending the university of my dreams. I had expectations, but inevitably my reality has manifested into something else entirely. I have learned far more than I ever would in classes alone. I have learned to ask for help; I have learned to tell the people that matter most to me that I love them; And I have learned to sit in silence, even when it becomes seemingly unbearable. The connections that I have established here at the University of Michigan are invaluable. I have become a sponge, soaking in every droplet of opportunity that is offered to me and because of it I am saturated-- saturated with a hunger for knowledge and creativity and self expression.
This year I have uncovered a new self. Or perhaps she was always there, I just never took the time to see her for who she really was. She is passionate. She is loving. But most of all she is full, not just of home baked cookies and endless hippie bowls from Sava’s, but of life. She stares back at me, and for the first time, she smiles.