Elana Johnson is currently celebrating the release of her latest novel, Surrender, and this week is the Never Surrender Blogfest. Everyone taking part in the blogfest is blogging about a time they did not surrender. You can find more information, including a list of those participating, here.
I signed up to be a part of this blogfest without really knowing what I wanted to write about. There have been moments in my life that could've gone completely different had I given up, but nothing really stood out and screamed "blog about me!" Even as I'm typing this, I'm still unsure exactly what I'm going to talk about.
I wasn't a happy kid in high school. My parents were going through one of the longest divorces ever. To give a little history, my dad moved into the den when I was nine and into an apartment when I was thirteen. My parents didn't actually divorce until I was nineteen when my dad got re-married. Anyway, I was shy, awkward, and never really felt like I fit in. I never really felt like I knew who I was. Everyone else fell into a clique, but I kind of floundered at the edge of many. I had friends from a bunch of different groups and found myself bouncing from one to the next, never getting really close to anyone.
I don't really know what possessed me to try it the first time, but sometime during my senior year I started cutting. I'll never understand how harming myself helped me release some of the pain I was holding inside, but it did. Somehow it helped me cope. Looking back, I'm surprised more people didn't question how a girl who always complains about being hot could wear hoodies and jackets in the spring/summer in Florida, but only one friend ever noticed. She saw some of the cuts on my arm one day at lunch, although I brushed her off and said my cat had done it. After that, I got a little paranoid that everyone would find out. I tried my best to stop, and soon I was swept up into the craziness of a new job and then going off to college.
I went to college two hours from home. I remember the crazy mix of feelings when my family drove away that first day. I was scared and excited and overwhelmed. I tried not to cry as my parents were saying goodbye. I didn't know how I was going to survive all by myself (and my mom admitted later that she was afraid I was going to have trouble making friends). I was still shy, quiet, and awkward, but forced myself not to stay holed up in my dorm. I actually made friends a lot quicker and easier than I thought I would, thanks to parties and the drinks at said parties. I never thought I had a drinking problem, but it was always in the back of my mind because there is alcoholism on both sides of my family.
One day during my freshman year, my friend pulled me aside to ask me an innocent question. She wanted to know if what I told her the night before at a party was true. I didn't remember the conversation at all and had no idea what she was talking about. She bluntly told me that I confessed to being bisexual. It blew my mind. I had never really contemplated my sexual orientation up until that point, and had only had crushes on guys. But the moment she said it, a lightbulb went off in my brain and I just knew: I was bisexual. All of the pieces starting fitting into place. Although I never consciously thought about my sexual orientation growing up, some subconscious part of my brain had been figuring it all out and just waiting for the right moment to drop that bomb. And apparently the best time to drop that bomb was while I was smashed and wouldn't remember. Go figure.
As corny as it sounds, at that moment, I finally felt like I knew who I was. It was scary and exciting. When I moved into my new dorm for my sophomore year, I met Christen. We were both figuring ourselves out and started a relationship. It almost didn't happen because we are both very shy and quiet and awkward, and neither of us wanted to make the first move. Thank goodness we did, because we're still together five and a half years later.
I'm so glad I never surrendered to all of my negative feelings during high school. I could've easily used a sharper object to cut deeper, and never made it to college. I could've done something rash and scared my parents enough to keep me closer for school. I could've wallowed in my confusing search to know who I was and never left my dorm room. Had I let any of this overwhelm me, I may not have met and fell in love with Christen.
Every time I look down at my wrists and the blue stars I got tattooed on them, I remember the choices I made and the choices I could have made had I surrendered to my inner turmoil in high school.