A Personal Low

28 Aug

When we first arrived in North Dakota I felt life was about to look up.  My asthma was no longer acting up so I was able to come off the steroids and I began dropping weight.  My skin cleared up a little and, I thought, with all new people I could really reestablish myself in a positive way.  I loved the country, the flat fields of flax and sunflowers that looked like a watercolor painting, the cool, windy weather that you could stay outside all day in, and a church where I was able to establish myself in a “Uth Group.”

School was another story.  It was eighth grade and I found myself facing a curriculum much like the year before.  The school was academically behind, and the students were far more concerned with popularity and their own well defined cliques than study.  First day of lunch I was invited to a table of girls who proceeded to gossip about everyone else in the cafeteria.  I could not believe how cruel they were in their judgments.  The following day I opted to sit away from them and found a table by myself.  It was a lonely while before one girl from the table came to join me.  She told me she did not feel like she fit in with the other girls but they were the group she went with from the beginning so she could not establish herself elsewhere.  She was a little ditzy, but she was a very sweet girl and, from then on, we shared lunches together and little else.

I am a highly social person, I have always craved the presence of others and I find energy in conversation.  It comes with little surprise, then, that this new-found isolation cut me very deep.  I was still a very awkward looking person, I was becoming somewhat shy because I feared deepening the negative impression I gave by talking, and I just felt like I didn’t belong.  Nichole had become tied up with the wrong crowd and she was becoming mean, having little to say to me and disrespecting our parents constantly.  I was isolated and I had reached my breaking point.

One day I refused to get out of bed, I told my mom I was no longer going to be attending school and that was that.  She was very upset and called my father at work.  He asked me to come to lunch with him and I obliged, ready to make my firm stand to him as well.  He spoke to me kindly, never scolding me for my feelings but simply, softly, encouraging me.  He told me I was a sweet girl and that everyone faces parts of life that are hard to take.  He told me that what makes some stand out from others is how they endure those trials and live joyfully regardless.  Life would not always be this way for me, he said, and when the trials were over I would be happy I had stuck through it.  It was that day I decided to adopt a new attitude: no matter what I would choose joy.  I would fake a smile until it turned real, I was going to get through this.

The Early Years And Losing My Smile

27 Aug

When I arrived in Alaska my expectations were carefully optimistic.  I think I was too young to realize how heavy a burden my weight would be.  Fourth grade began and I found my crowd, as always.  I did not see that it was the unwanted ones, I had been placed into the cast of characters who had been labeled as, for lack of a better word, losers.  The summer before fifth grade I gained a friend in my new neighbor, Kay.  We were the same age, living in the same duplex, and our fathers quickly introduced us.  Nichole, Kay, and I became inseparable that summer- going on many adventures in the Alaskan forests.  Kay was a spirited,pretty, little blonde girl with a squeaky voice and tenacious attitude, not to mention a sense of humor that played perfectly off of my own.

As that school year began it became clear Kay and I were not regarded as being so similar by our peers.  She was adopted immediately by the popular crowd and, at school, our relationship deteriorated.  She treated me as the rest of them did, haughty and rude to me while around her school friends.  To further differentiate myself I developed a love of poetry and ancient cultures, immersing myself in books on the subjects.  I wrote one poem in particular which my mother believed to be far above my age, and my teachers agreed.  One day as a surprise she came in to the class and read my poem to everyone.  “And you’ll never guess who this was written by,” she said, completely unaware of the undesired attention it would cause.

Summers were always good, Kay would come back to normal and we would share many laughs and adventures together.  Hiking through the various mountains, camping, walking through frigid rivers, making slushie runs to the Youth Center… it was a very happy time.  I was insecure about my looks around Kay, but away from the influence of her friends she was kind and supportive.  It remained this way until seventh grade.

The awkward phase of life had begun, I shot up to a solid 5’9 almost overnight.  I was not quite so chubby as a result, but I was by no means attractive.  Acne became a serious problem, I broke out all over my face and back and no dermatologist I went to was able to cure me.  And, to my dismay, my breasts developed at an unequal rate and they stopped growing when they were vastly different sizes.  I was awkward epitomized.  Furthermore I had decided to stop spending time with my old group of friends, through time I realized they were not a positive influence.  In their situation they had chosen to speak ill of everyone and became far too interested in crude materials.  I suppose, despite my problems, I must have been a little less offensive to behold because I was then adopted by the average group.  We had fun together, they were lighthearted and kind, and we always had some good laughs.

Underlying though, was the growing realization that I was not pretty.  Far from it, I was detestable in many ways.  At a time when other girls were obsessed with boys and ensuring they were wearing the most current fashion trend, I was obsessed with Phil Collins music, art, and english.  Everyone was experiencing what it was like to have their first boyfriends, while I could not even imagine what it would be like to be seen by a guy.  I wanted desperately someday to be in love, to have a marriage and a life with someone I cared about.  I saw the silly relationships around me and I decided to make a rule for myself: I would not allow myself to date until I was done with High School.  I wanted my heart to be as whole as possible when I met “the one,” and I knew that, only living places usually two years, I was not going to find my match until college at least.  I was happy having made this decision but it does not mean I did not find myself yearning to be liked.

After the longest time I had lived anywhere at one time, four years, we received the assignment to move to North Dakota.  It was so hard saying goodbye to Kay and the great wilderness I had come to love, but I found myself hoping that maybe I could establish myself differently with a new start.

 

An Introduction

26 Aug

I am Maria Mitchel and I am an unremarkable human being.  I live a fairly common life, I have no fascinating interests or talents to speak of, and, for me, spontaneity consists of waiting to plan something until the morning of.  No, it can be honestly stated that I am not here because I believe my life would be of entertainment value to a general blog-reading public, but rather because I find myself desiring an outlet through which to relay my average life story and the difficulties that come with it. Any story of merit requires character building, so I will begin with a brief, rigid analysis of my background.

I was born in the Spring of 1990 to two very loving parents, one of which happened to be in the Air Force.  This meant for me that the remainder of my dependent life would be spent under the ever-changing will of my father’s superiors.  On average it was two years between every reassignment, with some lasting a little over one year and the longest coming in at four. I perpetually found myself in the position of “new kid,” and I began to surmise the only constant was my faith and my family.  Being that they have so greatly formed who I am, I suppose it would do well to introduce them.

My father is a terrific family man, always putting us and my mother first.  He is not very tall person, but his stature is broad and strong, so much so that we have always likened him to a gorilla.  Though he is intimidating for some to behold, in truth he is a very gentle man in most regards.  This, by no means, should indicate he is lax in his career.  His life has been an amazing rags to riches story in which his hard work and amiability have earned him a great deal of respect and position.  He is a generous soul, but absolutely terrifying if he should feel any of those close to him are threatened.  He is humorous, sardonic, wise, and an amazing cook to boot.

My mother is the most patient soul I know.  She is, to her core, selfless and giving while still maintaining an astounding strength.  She is the easy laughter to my dad’s quick humor and her eyes are always alight with joy.  She made the decision to end her career when she had children to be a stay at home mom, and I cannot imagine a job more fitting for her.  Her attitude is still that idle hands are the Devil’s tools and it is nearly impossible to get her to sit down for any extended period of time. She is strong, hard-working, joyful, and loving.

My only sibling, Nichole, is only one year my senior, so we found in one another a willing playmate no matter what the situation was.  She was the rough and tumble type: always arguing any case with any who dared bring one against her.  She was the kind that from the start seemed to be a little adult and she meticulously watched over me.  She remains a stubborn individual, and I find myself having great difficulty understanding her at times, but I know that her heart is golden and that she would do anything for me if I needed her.  Random acts of kindness are a big strength of hers, and she constantly surprises me with kind words or thoughtful gifts.  She was the scholar from birth it seemed, quiet and intelligent all through school and determined to never be outdone.

I was always very much the opposite: a free-spirited peacemaker who would roll with any punches if it meant keeping everyone around me happy.  Humor was my shield and companion and it was rare to never I could be found without a huge smile on my face.  I had an airy affect and few worries, so it came as a great surprise to my parents when I reached middle school that I was labeled as an excellent student by my teachers.  I have a passion for animals, I have always been able to get along well with them and make them behave.  I delight in the arts: painting, drawing, sewing, and baking new projects all the time.  My ability to learn and retain music has always been remarkable, though my singing voice was quite another story.  In all, I am a normal girl with normal hobbies and interests and little else to speak of.

With introductions out of the way, I am now pressed to find a position in which to begin my story.  I will spare you the details of my infancy or early childhood and begin in third grade.  We had just moved to Florida from Turkey, I was readjusting to being in the States and overjoyed to be close to my extended family again.  At the time I had little worries, I did not notice how I was always “it” in the games of tag or how sometimes I’d find myself gasping at night.  It was not until later, when I stopped breathing entirely, that my life changed.  I was diagnosed with a severe case of asthma.  The remedy was albuterol and a strong steroid, the latter of which had the despicable side effect of a sudden gain in weight.  My Grandmother began to make comments in the guise of jokes.  She would pinch at my fat as I walked by or allow Nichole to eat anything and hand me healthier alternatives.  My confidence began to sink.  When we left Florida a year later, I had some idea that things were about to get much harder.