When I was 16, I had a dream of changing the world with my words.
I was often told I was smart. They said I was talented. That I had a gift. Looking back now, I don’t quite see it that way.
My poetry was nothing more than teen angst at best. The stories I wrote never made it past the first chapter. My academic writing was a joke, and not a good one at that.
So I started to tell my real stories – stories about loss.
Loss of life. Friendship. Love. Motivation. Loss of innocence. A child. Loss of trust. Family. Composure. Direction.
I gave my stories up for everyone who had experienced a loss of words, because I knew how it felt to feel loss.
At 16, I dreamt of changing lives.
I thought maybe if I could make people feel more connected to one another through all of the loss we experience as individuals, I could find a way to close that divide. I wanted to bring people together with my words, with my experiences.
So I wrote about death, and how it ripped me apart to lose my best friend. I wrote about toxic friends, and how it was difficult to let go of someone who had been like a sister to me. And I wrote about heartbreak, and how I still feel small aches when I think about the scars it left. I wrote about depression, and how impossible it became to see the light.
Then I wrote about sex, and how I wasn’t ready emotionally. I wrote about abortion, and how isolating it was to experience it alone. And I wrote about divorce, and how painful it was to know I destroyed a person who had put so much faith into me. I wrote about childhood, and how empty promises don’t make a man a father.
And I wrote about panic attacks, and how they consumed me completely. I wrote about the future, and how complicated it can be to make a decision that affects the next sixty years of my life.
Today, I wanted to write about the loss of a dream.
But the thing is, I haven’t lost it.
Eight years have passed, but I still dream of changing the world. I watch as loss pulls people away from each other because of the pain. And I wonder if they’ve ever considered how loss can pull them back together in new ways.
Loss doesn’t have to be only about what you’ve lost. Loss can be about what you’ve gained.
Death gave me an appreciation for people. Ending a friendship gave me the power to say I deserve better. Heartbreak gave me strength. Depression gave me new perspectives. Sex gave me a better understanding of emotional intimacy. Abortion gave me a chance for a future of my choice. Divorce gave me an opportunity to find the right person. My father leaving gave me a stepfather who has been the most incredible dad I’ve ever known. Panic attacks and thinking about the future gave me more anxiety, but I guess we can’t win them all, right?
It’s safe to say I’ve gained a lot from all of my losses, maybe even more than I’ve lost.
I still have a dream that I can change the world with my words, and even if I lose that dream someday, maybe I’ll gain a new one.
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