Finding Your Own North Star

 

North Star: a star that is used as a reference point in navigation or astronomy.

A necklace. That’s all it is on the outside. A necklace that we found on sale for $30 towards the end of what would’ve been my first semester of high school. It’s nothing too special: it has no monetary value, the chain is severely tangled, and the pendent is dirty looking beyond the fix of a simple cleaning. Yet, this necklace means so much to me. Why? I was in line at Target a few days after I got it when the lady ringing up my purchases told me she liked my necklace and asked if it meant anything to me. I told her no it didn’t actually, I just thought it looked cool. That turned out to be the last time I ever said that.

For about three months before buying the necklace, I was in the hospital for a swallowing disorder that has a super fancy name that I honestly don’t remember. It was brutal. I was told I was lying, that I was wasting money, and that I was ultimately killing myself for “refusing” to eat, drink, or speak. This was the first time I was introduced to the phrase “find your own North Star” that I heard in passing conversation in the Children’s hospital wing. That phrase sunk in and then it was forgotten in the bustle of medical tests that I was enduring. Flash forward.

I’m sitting in English class in my first day of high school (three months late) rubbing my new necklace between my thumb and forefinger (which for some reason calls me down a great bit in stressful situations), and thinking about the question that was written on the board “What keeps you going?”. I was stuck. I had absolutely no idea. My life had been a living hell the last few months and I didn’t want to keep going. But here I was. So why was I here, what kept me on this Earth right now. It was in that moment that I went back a few pages in my notebook to try to jog some inspiration and saw where I had absentmindedly scrawled “find your own North Star” between notes and a study guide. I didn’t remember writing it, but in that moment those words hit me deep. Find your own North Star.

My necklace is a compass. It’s a dainty necklace with the cardinal directions on it, and in all honesty I had no idea the other directions were on it until just now because the others didn’t mean anything to me. Fun fact of the day 🙂 The find your own North Star meaning to me goes a little like this: No matter what situation you’re in. No matter where you are. No matter where you go. No matter what tragedy hits or celebration occurs or if you lost motivation or if you feel empowered. The stars are always there. They never go away. The stars in your life can be a goal, a dream, aspirations or anything else you could possibly want. In life, there are times you will feel lost, like you have no where to go. You’ve lost where you came from, your sense of direction and feel like you’re ultimately spinning in circles. I encourage you to look up. Find your own North Star. Keep moving. Move towards your goal, dreams, or aspirations. Move towards what you want. The best thing is: it’s your North Star. No one can tell you which one will take you the right way or what decisions will bring you closer to it because their star is different from yours, they’re going another way and that’s okay. North Stars will guide you home.

This necklace (see picture) and its symbolism has guided me through a lot . It’s been through two boyfriends, the loss of a house, the loss of family and friends, two surgeries, more hospital visits than I can count, two trips out of the country, and has inspired me to share my thoughts with you. It is my hope that those of you who read this, whenever you see a compass remember this and look for your North Star and if you’ve gone astray get back on the path. I have faith in you to reach where you are going. You are capable. Find your North Star to bring you home.

Driving Away

I'm driving away
down roads that line
my heart that's 
beating in perfect time
to the memories of my past
beginning a new 
present and future 
destroying the person I grew
to be now
and retreating to hide
behind the curtain
of who I actually am inside

Struggling to Breathe

We breathe in an excessive amount of air every single day. Most sources report an average of about 550 liters, but yet many of us forget how to breathe. Life comes at you welding tragedy, suffering, and hardships and the simplest thing, the thing we have been “practicing” all our lives ends up being the hardest thing that we as people will ever have to do. Breathe.

Life is full of intricacies. You have the solar system, the laws of physics, magnificent buildings, and the human body. The human body is built to keep itself alive and do the bare minimum functions to keep it going. The average human does not have to think to breathe. We go through life and our body without us thinking about it breathes for us. Steadily. In and Out. So why when hardships come we find it so hard to do what was so easy for us to do all along?

I have faced many hardships in my life and I know I’m only seventeen and haven’t faced true hardship or whatever and I get that. I believe hardships do not discriminate. At the age of seventeen I have faced: foreclosure, death, an abusive relationship, mental illness, and an uncontrollable dangerous family member. This list isn’t all inclusive and it isn’t meant for you to pity me, just for you to get perspective on why I’m talking about this tonight and why I struggle to breathe.

Foreclosure. A scary word to most home owners who aren’t sitting comfortably and something that I had to learn about the hard way eleven months ago. When you get foreclosed on, you forget how to breathe. Life as you know it is being ripped away from you and it’s scary. You feel the need to find something you can control, something that you thought you had, something you thought you couldn’t lose. That it was guaranteed. You turned to your breath. You long to hear that steady flow of movement draw in and out, but it’s gone. Only a faint whistle sound remains.

Death. An eternal lasting consequence of living in a broken world. When someone close to you dies you feel wrong for breathing, for having something they no longer have. You wonder why and how. Why did they leave you and how does this breath that is supposed to be locked inside their chest cease to exist for them and still thrive for you. You try to stop. You focus so hard on trying to stop it that your breathing gets irregular and rough and you’re not winning. You won’t win. You’re unsure of how this can ever be normal and your chest go back to a slower rate. You are struggling to breathe.

Abusive Relationships. A living hell on Earth. When you are in an abusive relationship you’re told you’re not worthy to breathe. You are not worth the air to sustain you. You are worthless. Every day you fall toward the idea that they’re right. That you walk this earth as a burden and you’re a waste of what was put on this Earth to keep creation alive. You struggle with the concept of what you’re worthy of and this puts a sour taste in your mouth. The taste of failure. You try to breathe in but are constantly reminded of how unworthy you are. You struggle to breathe.

Mental Illness. When your mind takes control of a false reality. With Mental Illness you are not you. Your body is a child’s toy in the hand of your mind, moving and breaking all to the same beat of worthlessness, panic, and failure. You move like a robot breaking at the joints and being stuck back together in a haphazard fashion. Your mind tells you what other people cannot and tells you the truths of a make believe world. Mental Illness throws you through a roller coaster of insanity and lets you reach for that bottle to escape. Allows you to throw those pills back. Allows you to inhale deep and exhale once and for all. Breathing has almost ceased.

An Uncontrollable Dangerous Family Member. You are locked into your house with a person who might as well be Satan himself. He comes bearing knifes and threats, with fists and heavy objects just waiting on you to fall asleep. He’s an outside normality with a built in monster. You’re told you won’t be breathing much longer and you believe him. You count your breaths as you shut the door between him and the knife. You count your breaths at night wondering if they will be taken from you before the next morning. You breathe heavier when you leave the house finally free. You count your breaths because you don’t know how many are left. You are struggling to breathe.

 

Raise Your Glass

Raise your glass to those
who ooze with courage 
who destroy stereotypes
and who brave society
because us others
us who stand down
us who are firm molded
and us who hide
we are living life
through the storms of others
and through the looking glass of our peers

I’m Broken

I'm broken
to a point where mending 
is unheard of 
down to the joints
down in my bones
deep within my soul
I cry out
begging and pleading
struggling to grab on to anything
that can hold me above
the brutal waters of the deep 
its desire to swallow me whole

Skinny

I am skinny. Not the “cute skinny” or the “fit skinny”, I am just skinny. No, I’m not anorexic and no, I don’t have any illness that’s causing it. I just am.

Today I want to talk about my experience with skinny shaming. Yes you read that correctly. Skinny. S-K-I-N-N-Y. wow that’s a new phrase to some people which is honestly pretty weird in my opinion, but we’ll roll with it.

For starters, let’s clear up some things. First, I’m not trying to get you to pity me. That’s ridiculous. Also, I don’t want you to tell me how happy I should be for being skinny and how you wish you were or how lucky I am, because in all honesty, that’s ridiculous too. It’s a body type. Secondly, I don’t actively try to stay skinny. I don’t work out regularly unless it’s tennis season and even then it’s not much and i don’t go on any elaborate diets.

Let’s start by discussing the way I feel about it. As a person, I don’t notice body type. I notice things like eyes and smile and hair. Is that cliche? Probably. Although in my defense, it’s easier to stare right in front of you than scanning up and down someones body upon just glancing at them. So with that being said it is slightly infuriating when you see someone staring at your body like it is a product for them to buy and to have the nerve after they stare to get a look of pity in their eyes and resort to the default comment of “you need to eat a cheeseburger”. Really? I need to eat a cheeseburger. Well that sounds great if I hadn’t just ate some chicken nuggets, a large fry, and a milkshake from the nearest Burger King. Thank you for reminding me that I, a seventeen year old girl, need to feed myself. I can and I have already taken care of it and I have been for a long time, but thank you anyway. I appreciate your concern.

My favorite thing I think anyone has ever said to me about this issue is “are you anorexic” that one shocks me the most. Now someone tell me: Why on earth would you ask anyone if they had anorexia? Anorexia is a serious illness and is not to be taken lightly. For example: I was out running some errands one day and decided to pick up a smoothie from smoothie king. As I was ordering my smoothie of choice, the lady behind the counter was curious if I have anorexia asked if my smoothie was a meal replacement and invited me to a support group her church had, all within the first two minutes of our interaction . For a minute I stared at her and when I focused back in on this middle aged lady I put a smile on my face and told her thanks for the offer, collected my smoothie, and walked straight to my car. Hurt.

The heaviest I have ever been in my entire life is 106 pounds, but I at average sit around 99 pounds. I am anywhere between 12-19 pounds underweight if I take the bare minimum of the healthy weight. When my boyfriend picks me up, he notes that I’m as light as a feather, and when my best friend makes comments that she’s 140 pounds and that’s what I should be and I know that should be my goal and it hurts. It hurts a lot. You can tell I’m 99 pounds. You can see it in my pictures by looking at my twig like legs and my arms that look like chicken wings. You see it when I’m in a bikini with my hipbones protruding and my spine lightly sticking out. This was how I was made and something I shouldn’t be ashamed of and shouldn’t have to be considering going on weigh gain pills. I should be proud of who I am. I am not my weight. So why to others does it seem like I walk around with an I am 99 pounds sticky note taped to my back.

To end this all, once and for all (hopefully). I know what I weigh. I stand on the scale every day see the numbers. I know. I see it for myself and I know what I look like. No I don’t have an illness and yes I’m perfectly normal. I am just me, although to you, the people that call me sticks and skinny minis and anorexic: you know me as 99, because thats all you seem to care about anyway.

The Weary

Where are the weary 
the ones seeking rest
from life around them
unmoving unless
a spur of motivation
or gain
inhaled deep within
grain by grain
building up slowly
picking up limbs
and forcing movement
before the future turns grim