“I don’t know what this confidence thing is. I don’t know the secret behind it. I don’t know how to use it. I’m not even 100% sure I can say I live everyday with it because I never notice it. I just know that when I turn 16, I don’t want to live behind fear anymore. I don’t want to lay sleepless because I’m wondering what would’ve happened if I would’ve moved to do something instead of sitting back. What’d happen if I would’ve said something instead of being quiet. This year is going to be different. I’m going to live and find myself by living. Doing what I want to do. Saying what I want to say. And not in a rebellious manner. But in a way that I can be happy. I want to take risks and live on edge and say “I did it” rather than “I didn’t”. And I want to live everyday knowing that I’m one in a million. There’s never been anyone like me. There will never be anyone like me. The world gets one shot in meeting a guy like me and I want to show it and everyone else who that person is. I don’t know if that’s what confidence is but it’s how I’m going to handle being 16.”
-Me, 38 Minutes Prior to Turning 16
I do this thing where (almost) every year, I think of a word that I want to model my year after and somehow, someway, God always sees to it that I learn a thing or two about that topic. Think I’m kidding?
I moved to a new state, totally went against the football plan and did a musical, and miraculously earned a spot in the school’s nationally acclaimed Show Choir program
15: Change Pt. 2 (because I didn’t think of one)
I grew my hair out, I got in my first real relationship, I learned how to deal with a breakup, AND I learned how to deal with betrayal
I started taking my writing seriously by dropping my pen name and openly submitting works under my real name, I spoke up more in class, I went out of my way to talk to new people
This one was pretty much a copout because I had to prepare anyway lol. Prepare for college, prepare for a new life where I’d be the captain of my own ship, prepare for a life where I knew I’d lose at least 90% of my “closest friends” (Fun Fact: I lost about 97% but hey, that’s just how graduation rolls)
Experience everything life has to offer. Go to parties, sign up for clubs, find new talents, hold a job longer than a month. Basically everything that typically goes down the freshman year of college.
With my birthday being tomorrow (well today if I actually post this on the 10th like I intended), I figured this was a solid introduction for this week’s introspective post. So let’s get right into it shall we?
Let me first start off by saying that Hollywood lied, okay? Eighteen was cool, but it wasn’t “Been waiting my entire life for this” cool. Literally 90% of being 18 was accepting responsibilities I had no idea were this deep and having to adjust my entire lifestyle and method of thinking to accommodate for it (I’m talking to you college dinner plans). Even so, the last year was pretty incredible. Freshman year of college was by far the best experience of my life and I can’t wait to go back next week, I found a core group of friends which was something I missed out on all of high school, and I’ve seen more growth in myself as a writer than I have in any other previous year.
With that being said, I still feel unfulfilled. Part of me enjoys living in the now and taking in every moment God blesses me with, but another part is actually pretty ready to grow up. I saw a lot of issues within myself in my 18th lap around the sun that shook me. Granted, no one alive is perfect but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to grow right?
Biggest issue I had with the last year was my lack of consistency. Be it fear of commitment or just downright laziness, I didn’t stick to a lot of the things I said I would and I’m not proud of that. There were several opportunities I missed out on and I know that some of them may haunt me for a while. Not necessarily out of regret (though I do wish I stuck with them), but because missing out is going to make the future road just a bit harder to walk on. So this year, I’m going to stick with the things I say I’m going to do and pursue. I have people around me now who will hold me accountable (shoutout my roommate this year, Chase, and the rest of the UT Savages) but I need to practice being diligent enough to keep myself in check. I’ve learned that actually handwriting things makes me more likely to see them through as opposed to just saying I’ll do them and keeping them in my head so I’m thinking of making a list or note or something and posting it on my door come move-in day. Knowing me, I could get overly ambitious with my goals and stretch myself thin so I’ll have to be careful to balance both desires and responsibilities so I don’t burn myself out.
Another thing I want to address this year is my ambiverted tendencies. In my poem Progress I have a line that goes, “I found myself being quiet in places I should be loud, And loud at times I should be quiet, All to please people I’ve had no profound interest in”. I wrote that poem a year and a half ago and it’s still somewhat of an issue for me. On days when I’m feeling incredibly extraverted, I tend to get lost in the sauce (aka caught in the moment) and lose the genuine side of my personality. As a result, I end up coming off as disrespectful, prideful, and immature. On days when I feel like an introvert, I close myself off and prevent myself from being vulnerable from the people who could help me most. This leads to trust issues as well as me just being miserable. My problem is I don’t quite yet know how to balance my love for inclusion with my need for space. I haven’t yet mastered the art of being a social butterfly while still being an individual. Whenever I calm down and revert back to being me, Chris, I’ve noticed that not only do I conduct myself better, but the words that come out of my mouth are so profound, they speak louder than the guy who’s flexing and putting up a front because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’ve also noticed that in telling people about my problems, it helps me figure out solutions to solve them as opposed to shrugging them off and just ignoring them like I usually do. So that’s definitely something I want to work on this year.
Finally, I want to unlock my full potential this year. I was talking to a friend the other day and she asked me why I was scaring her, and I guess other friends too, when I said I contemplated transferring schools. First of all, TWO UT alumni beat Usain Bolt, I have a newfound sense of pride in my school lol. But in all seriousness, I said it’s because I felt like I didn’t belong there. Like something was missing… I say this upcoming statement, not as an arrogant announcement, but as a true sense of belief that I’m sure anyone in my family or who knows me personally can attest to. Had I 1) Possessed a stronger grit than what I have now and 2) Believed in myself from the getgo, I’d be in an Ivy League school on scholarship right now, if not my dream school itself. That’s not to say that I regret making UT my choice in undergrad. Talking to a lot of people helped me realize that unlike the typical “state school,” UT is actually nationally renowned. Heck, world-renowned in some departments. It’s a DREAM school for some and I’m blessed to be attending and thriving in a school that pushes it’s students to their very limit. I’ve had the wrong perspective all of last year which hindered my potential to make freshman year as big as it could’ve been (which is saying something because last year was HUUUUGE). But back to my original premise, potential. I want to take this writing thing as far as I can this year. I want to take advantage of all the opportunities my school offers and meet incredible people and establish lifelong connections to take me where I need to go. I want to make memories that are so impactful, my grandkids will be telling their grandkids about what I did.
Everything basically boils down to that first thing I mentioned I want to address this year. Consistency, consistency, consistency! I have to be consistent in my character, in my work habits, and in every other facet of life.
In a way, my new hair symbolizes my focus on this topic. Dreads? How? I’ll tell ya. Anyone who’s tried growing dreads can first attest to the fact that it’s a true test of patience. The reward is amazing but the process is rather frustrating. You first have to wait until your hair gets so knotty that it begins to lock itself… Unless you do interlocking (like I did) but that’s expensive. Once they’re locked, you have to go through the ugly stage of waiting for your new dreads to form themselves. In the meantime, you can look anywhere from a bug enthusiast who keeps their collection on their head to a knockoff ODB. You could in theory cut corners by putting fake hair in but c’mon… Like no… Anyway, you go around looking rough for a while and it’s hard and sometimes you contemplate quitting by cutting it all off but you stick with it because you envision all the cool things you get to do once it’s here. Consistency and Patience work hand in hand.
So in a crazy sense of irony, the one thing I’m sure my Mom and Arielle would change if they could is actually an integral part of this year’s growing process. That being said, I make absolutely no promises about next year when I pick a new word lol. So here’s to a solid year of blessings, lessons, and memories!