Hi there, I’m Liv!
This is my first time writing for Willowjak and to be honest, I’m a tiny bit nervous. Recently I haven’t been writing a whole lot as I feel like I’ve been consumed in my online math course, work, and planning for the future. I am in my last “quadmester” of grade twelve, so as you can imagine stress levels are high and my brain feels like it’s constantly in overdrive. Though it seems like this past year has given us all the time in the world, for a young girl trying to prepare for life after high school, I am constantly aware of the fleeting time at home, assignment and application due dates as well as my limited opportunities to just be a kid. I think to be completely transparent I’ve been scared to pick up a pen. I have always loved writing and have always believed that it is not about grammar and proper structure, but as long as you make the reader feel something – you are a good writer. I think I’ve been scared to make myself feel something that isn’t regulated and routine.
When I was diagnosed with Anxiety I used writing as a coping mechanism to practice getting my thoughts out of my head and into a journal that I can simply close up and put back on the shelf. It helped a bit, but to this day those tear-stained pages and messy scribbles haunt me. I’m scared to open that book again for fear that I will turn back to past pages rather than writing a new chapter. Don’t get me wrong, I am in a good place right now, I am really and truly happy. I have spent the last year working on my mind so that one day I would feel ready to share my story & experiences, so here it goes…
If you knew me as a child you most likely still think of me as a goofy, loud, outgoing kid who lived up to that fiery expectation that comes with my red hair. I loved being the centre of attention, chasing the spotlight, and talking… boy, did I LOVE to talk. Since growing up I think I’ve mellowed a bit. I do not react well to big groups or crowds, I would rather not be asked to speak if my hand is not raised and I’m quite bad at making new friends. If you have done your Willowjak homework you might be thinking that I resemble the iconic “Shy Liza” (my big sister), but I think what’s different about our narratives is that I grew into this. I need to continuously enlighten people on my new and somewhat more guarded comfort levels. Some people find it insulting when I could once do something that I now choose not to. Though sometimes I feel like I’m really disappointing people or appear like I’m taking steps backward, I continue to tell myself that all I am doing is finally acknowledging my boundaries. I do what makes me feel safe and happy and am working on letting go of things that do not bring me peace and people who are not supportive of my journey.
I am not stepping back, I am simply stepping into my own and I want to share this journey with you because so often mental health and even growing up is a story told in the past tense. We hear from people who have overcome their hurdles because society loves a happy ending. I am here to share my story in the now, I am only 17 and my story is far from over. It will be unfiltered and truthful. For example, my first version of this blog’s ending was about how writing for Willowjak will become my new journal and I will take you along as I grow up and become more and more myself, but the more I read over that cookie-cutter ending, the less authentic it felt. I have just spent 618 words explaining how I am relearning my comfort levels and personal boundaries and within the same breath thought that I would publish my diary to the world. As I sit here and re-write this ending for the third time I am actively respecting my own comfort levels and not making a promise that I won’t be able to live up to.
Though I’m sure there are many of you who still think of me as that spunky little redhead who never didn’t have something to say, I want to tell you that I grew up. I’m still energetic and fiery, but I have put myself in control of when you get to see that unfiltered me. My anxiety makes it very hard for me to trust people, including myself. So for now, though I can’t share every aspect of my mind or how I’m feeling, I will continue to write until I trust myself as the writer again and you as the reader.
I hope you’ll follow along to read about my journeys through young adulthood, mental health and big life transitions.
You are right Olivia, as I think of you as that spunky red headed kid and teen that had such a command of the English language and intuitiveness that she could bring a whole congregation to stop and reflect with “prayers of the people” or inspire a group of young children with ideas and support in cupcake club.
It is okay to feel yourself changing in a world that isn’t what you expected or anticipated and realizing the changes you are going to experience! I don’t have any earth shattering advice, I just wanted to say: Good for you to recognize who you are and to be honest with yourself! You don’t have to be somebody that others expect, just be true to you. You’ve got this Liv!!!
At 56 I still do not have the confidence in myself that you show here, Liv. The confidence to set your own boundaries and be who you want. This hit home. Thank you for sharing. Your inspiring even to old folks ❤️