*WARNING: THIS IS A LONG POST*
I’m going to try something new today and tell you something about myself using the one-word daily prompt… Because I may only have five followers, and those only from the daily prompt posts, but I’d like to reach out and reveal myself more blatantly to those five followers.
I see the “insights”… Any time I post something without using a reference to the one-word prompt, it goes unread except by my friend, Carly. And I love her for that. But I have this blog to be discovered as a writer by other people who aren’t yet acquaintances. So I use the one-word daily prompt tags, and I get 10-15 views from around the world, and it’s super exciting, but then I realize that they are likely only reading a glimpse into how I think and see the world. Granted, that’s a bigger part of who I am than my profession (civil engineering is NOT my calling in life, but I do it so that I can afford to pursue music, and it’s a great place to explore what else is out there in the world since I have an excessive amount of free-time), but I have this thing about wanting people to know me.
And now I will explain why.
When I was about 10 years old, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Don’t worry, this isn’t a sob story, she’s still alive and I love her like any momma’s boy would, but at the time, it was extremely difficult for me. After being diagnosed and beginning treatment, my family moved to a new city, school, etc. This meant making friends with children who, let’s be real, would not understand what I was going through. Then I met Lauren Shuttle. She was the kid everyone in class talked about, but was never there… Perhaps a communal imaginary friend??
Nope, Lauren Shuttle was as real as you and me. But she was never there because she, too, was valiantly battling cancer. After she got through her chemo and started healing, I met her, and she was the most encouraging person in the world to me. As a child, I wanted concrete answers, and she could provide that. She wouldn’t sugar-coat it, she just told me as it is, as children do. Especially being directly de-sensitized to it herself, she had no problem telling me the horrors of it all, despite my traumatization. But she also offered me concrete encouragement… “Your mother is going to be just fine. Look at me! I went through cancer, and I’m still alive and kickin’!” Then she’d force a smile out of me, and proceeded to chase me around the playground at recess, announcing to the world and their mothers (because your friends are your world as a child, besides yourself), that she was in love with me. Secretly, I liked her too. Like, a whole heckin’ lot. But we were young and she was absolutely coated with cooties.
So when she didn’t come to class one day, we all sorta panicked… That was the only time in my life when I was justifiably worried over something so small as the absence in class of a friend, and it set me up for having a mindset where I immediately assume the worst in a situation when something seems off. Her cancer returned, and with a vengeance.
She passed away December 5th, 2004 at 11 years old. We were in 6th grade.
And like that, my security was gone. My mom had fought and won the battle with cancer by the time Lauren passed, but Lauren was still the only one who understood me during that time of my life.
But that’s not why I want to be known. It’s because the following year, another friend died suddenly from a sinus infection that went to his brain. And a few months later I was in a car accident with my mom, and I started to develop a form of PTSD and anxiety. I was depressed and suicidal. Luckily, I had the best friends God could have ever given me, and they kept me alive. Night after night, we talked on AIM (those were the days…) and they convinced me we all had stuff to live for. I had my music, too, but the friends were the ones who actually met me eye-to-eye and understood me, since we went through this crap together.
Half way through 8th grade, less than a year after my mom and I were in that car accident that sparked my anxiety, I moved from Detroit, MI to Phoenix, AZ.
And just like that, my anonymity was more a part of me than my personality. I didn’t want to know anyone and I didn’t want them to know me, because if I had a problem with feeling misunderstood before, it was just amplified to a whole new level. I sat there, across the country from all my extended family and all the friends I had ever known, and I realized there was never such a thing as someone who gets me. Maybe it’s not even a thing in general for anyone, but I take it personally.
Please do not misunderstand, my life is heckin’ amazing. I love life and beauty, music and literature, I love the stars and the Arizona mountains. I love people, as oblivious as they may be while driving. I’ve just been through something that came to define me, but here’s the thing… It allowed me to define myself.
I don’t have that lifelong friend who grew up down the street since we were in preschool, I don’t have the group of friends who hung out every day in high school. I still talk to my college buddies, but they are getting married, having kids, buying houses. That’s just not the stage of life I’m in yet, maybe not ever. The awesome thing about it is that my friends can be whoever the deuce they want to be, and I don’t have a problem being me, which often times looks completely different from them. I’m not used to being influenced by close friends, so I am a completely tailor-made version of only myself and my experiences.
The best part is, because I’m not doing this blogging thing for a living, I can tell you all of this without censoring or wording it just right. I read a blog post earlier about someone who does a travel blog, and is darn good at it, but in this post, she talks about how sometimes she is inauthentic because she has to be what the readers or brand want her to be. Maybe “inauthentic” isn’t the right word, but she requires a censorship over herself because she is catering to specific audiences. It’s really an amazing post, check it out here: “Is Flora Your Real Name?”
I wish I could be like Flora and be paid to do what I love and be myself, but there’s also an incredible freedom in telling you who I am, responding to one-word daily prompts, using incorrect grammar and spelling on purpose (trust me, I cringe when I do it, but it’s part of me being me), and not being required to cater to anyone but my own catharsis. So, if you made it this far into my post, thank you for letting me reveal who and why I am to you. Tell me about you.
Also, huge shout out to the bloggers that follow me: @varnikajain92, @motherishchildish, @sumyanna, @thediaryofamuslimgirlblog
Check their stuff out, it’s really great!!