PHOTO / WORDS

My Life So Far

Here’s to certain phases I have encountered.

I hate looking back. I have always felt the need to jump from one personality to the next like they were pieces of a ship sinking. Once I shed my old skin, I can’t stand to reminisce and think of the things I’m changing or leaving behind. Sometimes it can be fun to try on different suits but other times it can be pretty sour. But today I’m looking back for once. Onto the embarrassing trials and errors of myself trying to get closer to this person inside.

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2013. 7th Grade.

It was an embarrassing time where I felt the need to scream teen angst riding around on my Penny board(not even a real skateboard!) With my new found obsession with mediocre indie pop and film, I thought I was insanely cooler than the rest of suburbia. My friends and I would make music videos and run around the lake at night. We would take pictures of everything and sing Arcade Fire at the top of our lungs. But it was okay because I was confident and having fun. I might have been a bit annoying with my obsession with Ezra Koenig and American Apparel, but I was rocking it. I wasn’t afraid to love my body and I didn’t care about the waves of orange-skinned cheerleaders surrounding my middle school.

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2014. 8th Grade.

I moved schools, moved towns and left my two best friends for life. Suddenly that high-spirited, loud flame died out into an insecure gray mass. I was so used to being in a city where everyone was a plain piece of bread, I found strength in standing out. But my new school was full of kids into fashion, film, art and they were all insanely intimidating. Instead of being excited to find a community, I shut down and anxiety crept in. I layered myself with baggy, grey clothing, got huge frames and bushy hair to hide away. I don’t have many pictures from this year since I couldn’t bear to take photos of myself. It was a hard time but made me realize you can’t wait around for things to get comfortable.

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2015. 9th Grade.

It started to get easier. I coped in weird ways like I wore that grey cardigan wherever I went and pinned some of my hair back, but I was gaining confidence slowly. I traded in my chunky frames for clear, unique ones. I made two great friends where I finally felt safe. I began questioning big things like sexuality, politics, religion and gained more insight in the person I was becoming. I was still insecure but I was gaining footing on being more unique. Each day seemed to be a step away from grey matter and into colorful rays.

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2016. Early Spring.

I was going places all the time. Just another way to never have to sit with myself alone. So Christia and I hung out as much as possible with our 300-mile distance. Some memories from this time were meeting Cherry Glazerr, getting our fortunes told at Renaissance Festival and feeling on another planet at a Beach House concert. I was dressing more out of my comfort zone(though, the grey cardigan remained) and I was crushing on a cute guy from my Geometry class. This was a time of excitement and daydreaming. It was fun getting to live inside my head and push real issues aside. I began to feel again.

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2016. Early Summer

“Why is life so boring?” was a constant thought flashing beneath my eyelids. Rookie Mag became a bible to me and I couldn’t help but feel pangs of jealousy reading all the interesting stories. Everyone was involved and unique and experienced and all I wanted was something to hold onto. I had never been to a real party, or had a boyfriend, or snuck out and I felt like I was missing out. (Which looking back, why was I so hard on myself?) So I decided to hunt for love first. I chased it until I could get a hint of it. It didn’t last. It crashed and burned, but let me check off my first kiss. After that, I felt empty and dissatisfied. I just wanted a life that was worth telling. Then, I stumbled upon Mitski with Christia’s help. Mitski’s lyrics and songs seemed to fit with exactly how I was feeling–which was the lack of or explosion of everything. She knew my restlessness, my emptiness, my heartache, my every emotion. So while this time was weird and unsettling, I found security in an artist that knew myself more than me.

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2016. Start of 10th Grade

Off the diving board, I go, into the life of a beauty queen. Leaving my isolated life behind, I jumped onto a train filled with new friends from my old town that I thought totally understood me. It was an intoxicating feeling really, for someone who had never had a big group of friends before. Before I could realize, Christia and I lost ourselves in the pool of social media and status. I never really was one for anything of that nature, but I soon found myself coating my face in dark makeup and wasting battery on endless snap streaks.Everything I did was the same as the people around me than what I wanted. Instead of quiet night ins, quirky sweaters, and art museums, I wore Thrasher shirts, bad contour, and spent too much time taking “Instagram-Worthy” pictures. It was a horrible feeling looking back. I was trying to be man-eating, bad girl McKenna when inside all I felt like cutting myself into a million pieces.

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2016. End of 1st semester.

Snip! I chopped my front hair off impulsively and got bangs. And with my new look, I set fire to the picture of the ideal girl at my high school. I was so done. Done with the social media. Done with feeling insecure about my lack of curves. Done with the new ideology of a baddie-whatever that meant. The pressure of being a flawless Amazonian woman that loved boxer braids, acrylic nails and Drake was unbearable. Not that liking those sort of things was bad, but it certainly wasn’t McKenna Applewhite or who I wanted to be. And since I could never get myself into those things, I felt awful about myself for not being the epitome of what every guy at my school wanted. With the slash of my scissors, I cut away all those feelings.This was a time of realizing who I had become and transitioning back into myself.

 

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2017. New Year.

So here we go. With a rusty knife, I cut out all the emotional vampires from my life. I left my acne-causing boxed and processed foods. Hell yes to pressed juices and veggie rolls! Christia and I started yoga every Saturday. I began to start loving my body again and again. I ditched my old habits. I started new traditions. I left the people that made me feel sick and surrounded myself with positive lights. I didn’t realize how good it felt to be content with yourself for once. Sure I had my insecure days, but it’s been a long time since I was happy for who I was living for. (The answer was Me!)

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Now.

This is clearly not the last truck stop, but I’ve been finding more puzzle pieces to myself recently. I’ve realized that growing up can be painful, either painfully boring or painfully horrible. Looking back on the past girls I was can make my cheeks turn bright crimson but also, without those embarrassing mishaps, how would I get here? Learn to love the past you’s and the future ones. Be gentle to them. They might be downright obnoxious or peculiar but go with it. Maybe tomorrow you will like the dress you try on so much you will buy it.

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