A year ago, I was a handful of months into my recovery. I was gripping the walls, looking for light in the darkest of places and praying that I wasn’t going to fall down. I was playing it safe and then forcing myself to take chances, living in a space that was sensitive and uncomfortable a majority of the time. I guess that’s the thing they forget to mention about recovery: the sensitivity of your skin when you are changing. In some ways, it’s like the growing pains you got as a kid during the one summer that you grew a whole five inches and a shoe size.
Change has a stigma of its own. I used to think of change as a sour goodbye as I walked away from something I loved. It’s hard to let go of something that has been a part of you for so long that you forget where the line starts and ends. Yet we should know that stigma can be wrong. I forgot about the joyful hellos that would follow. I forgot that change is a comfort—it promises that this too shall pass. For even when everything seems to swallow you up and move too fast, change offers a promise of the four seasons.
Being twenty-one years old, I find myself changing every day. I’m learning how to live on my own and not call my mom every time something gets too scary. I’m growing into myself. I’m learning to fit my heart in places that didn’t have room before. I’m learning how to love better, how to live healthier, how to give second chances, and how to tackle my aspirations.
The bottom line is this: If I didn’t have the ability to change and adapt to this life, I would still be depression’s slave, living on the rockiest of bottoms. That’s not what happened, however, because as hard as it is to believe on our worst days, it does get better.
If I had let my scars win, I would have lost so much. I wouldn’t have my favorite semicolon tattoo. There would be no TWLOHA blog, no everlasting friendship with my best friend. I wouldn’t have realized my dreams of pursuing a career as a music therapist. I wouldn’t get to close my eyes during the slow songs at concerts and breathe in the feeling of being alive. There would be no rebuilt faith, no newfound love of stars, no collage wall in my apartment, and no dean’s list GPA. I’m glad I changed.
I changed to stay alive, to fight for another day. This process, as uncomfortable and unfortunate as it was, made me closer to the person I want to be. As I broke bad habits and challenged my thoughts for a chance at happiness, I learned the value of patience, loyalty, support, empathy, balance, and motivation.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t still fall down. I do. I fall down and let myself acknowledge that it hurts, but there’s a difference now. I don’t let it stop me—my mistakes, my past, or my doubts. I’m a year wiser, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not human. There’s a balance that makes change possible. Because there is a bad, there is also a good. Because there is darkness, there is also light. Nothing lasts forever, but that isn’t a form of bondage; it’s a form of hope.
There’s so much waiting for you over that finishing line. There are so many things to live for, to hope for, to fight for. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not even saying that it will be fast or painless. It takes honesty and quite a few tries, but the view is pretty great. Change isn’t the enemy; it’s your best friend.