That’s Enough for Me by Isabela Ponce de Leon

 

From the airplane window, I see the island of Puerto Rico rapidly approaching. Another summer going to what most would consider a vacation spot, but for me, it’s home. I make the trip to Puerto Rico by myself for the first time. I’m nervous, but I won’t let my confidence falter.

Puerto Ricans view me as a tourist. Unknown to them, my Puerto Rican roots run deep. However, I am no longer comfortable and confident on the island. I’ve become an outsider, alone for the first time, surrounded by people who look at me with animosity.

Throughout the summer I realized that I would never be accepted as a “true” Puerto Rican. I questioned whether I was losing myself. Why are they unwilling to accept me as one of their own? What gives these strangers the right to decide who I am?

My life is a mixture of two cultures. I have a home and family in Puerto Rico as well as in Cleveland. I will never be able to identify with only one culture and neither culture will ever fully accept me. Why did I ever allow strangers’ judgments to define me? Now, as a young woman, I refuse to change a single aspect of who I am. I’ve chosen to embrace both aspects of my unique and diverse self so that, no matter where I go or who I meet, people’s only choice will be to view me as the proud, young Hispanic-American woman that I am.

The Strong One by Molly Spring

In times of tragedy and strife,

I flip a switch inside of me.

I become the strong one,

I put on my mask,

attempting to put the well-being of others before mine.

 

I disregard my own feelings for the time being,

just so i can make others feel okay.

I bottle up every emotion inside of me,

all for what?

 

It happens every time.

I never know when to draw the line,

and consider the validity of how i’m feeling.

 

Just because i cope in different ways,

doesn’t mean my emotions are any less important or valid.

 

I never take a step back and breathe deeply,

I make myself the strong one.

Paper Cranes by Abigail Beard

Image result for paper crane As a child, I was a connoisseur of all things crafty. I would take trips to Michaels, grabbing whatever caught my eye at the moment, throwing them into the little shopping basket and, in turn, zapping my father’s bank account (I must have spent at least a hundred dollars on craft supplies and materials). I did everything: crocheting, collaging, sketching, sewing, photographing, t-shirt designing, stamping, painting, etc. I thought I had versed myself on every craft on the planet until my mother and I walked into the unassuming book store and my life changed.

You know that feeling when you know that something is destined to happen? That happened  when I saw the thick binder of origami figures sitting on the shelf, waiting for me to take it. In my eyes, origami was going to be the hobby to end all hobbies. Origami was the one craft that I was going to do for the rest of my life.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t last for the rest of my life. I kept up folding for a solid 4 months before I moved on to the next activity. I would occasionally pick up the book on off days from school, telling myself that maybe I would start folding again. My folding inspiration would last a day, then I would re-shelve the book and leave it there for another month or two.

It was only in high school that I began to fold again. This time around, I focused on one figure: the paper crane. Ironically, paper cranes were one of the figures I hated most because of a confusing intermediate step. It took me years of frustration and then one day, it just clicked. After that, folding the crane was a breeze.

For me, paper cranes were a gift. They one: looked so peaceful, two: were easy to fold once I got the general routine down, and three: were something to do with my hands when anxiety struck. I would fold in class or at work-anytime I got bored.

I still fold today to ease tension and give my hands something to do. Paper folding hasn’t just given me a new hobby, it’s given me a new goal: fold 1000 paper cranes. There’s a legend that says that if you fold 1000 cranes, you can have a wish granted. I only have 50 so far but a start is a start.

Slipping into an Echo by Bronwyn Warnock

 

then:

slipping

through the cracks, like water

nothing meant anything

happiness was handed to me

in late night hugs and movies

coming back, words were handed like daggers

stabbing deep

it all started from slipping away

now:

echo

no more slipping

coming back meant so much more

and you can’t slip when you’ve already fallen

those words don’t hurt anymore

they’re only an echo in my past

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Writing Anxiety of a Writing Intern by Ava Braun

 I have something to confess…up until this year I had excruciatingly bad writing anxiety. I wish I could tell you why this started, but all I know is that it reared it’s ugly, sweat-inducing head the very beginning of my sophomore year. Writing essays, I felt like I was in a fog. I could focus sentence by sentence but I wasn’t able to see the full picture of my essay. I felt like I was writing blind and I’d panic because of that. I hated this feeling so much that my unhealthy coping mechanism of choice was avoidance.

I was so afraid to start essays that I would avoid them to the very last minute until I was forced to deal with them. Of course, this fear-induced procrastination coupled with the writing anxiety only made me more anxious. Let me tell you from first hand experience that trying to write an essay the night before it’s due with writing anxiety feels like you’re a flaming ball of panic racing off the side of a cliff into a pit of despair.  I finally decided it was time for a change after I ended up avoiding the very first essay of my junior year to the point of turning it in a month later. To help me get over my anxiety, I enlisted the help of my freshman year English teacher/mentor. I worked with her after school to create strategies to combat the anxiety and when I did have an essay, we broke the work into chunks so I could do a little bit of it at a time. I would come to her when I felt like I couldn’t start and she’d help me get over my initial fear until I wrote something.

Today, I’m over my anxiety. Even if I do start to feel that familiar hum of anxiety (which happens occasionally), I know I have the tools to handle it, and to help others handle it as well.

Adaptation by Fenner Dreyfuss-Wells

you have
stolen my breath,
you have broken in
to my lungs and
bagged it up.
gone before I could say
thank you.

crackling, they shatter.
ten million tiny pieces of
lung.
now it will be easy to tell if
he was a smoker.

but no matter,
my heart can
hold my breath.
my liver could, too, you know,
in a pinch.

i’ll get along just fine,
thank you.

The Sun’s Song by Astrid Braun

The blue jay grips the branch,

Adjusts his azure coat

And takes an inaudible breath

Before he questions the sun.

 

“Why do you not speak to me?”

He asks her, as she breaks through

The leaves to touch him gently;

Answering silently as ever before.

 

She does not her joys convey

In words, so different from the

Wind whose whispers reach him

In the tree where he sleeps

 

Nor is she like the stream

Whose bubbly anecdotes

Travel up from the soft mud

To amuse those around him

 

Perhaps she is like the sun

And not another —

Her song is felt inside

And she sings as she knows how

Application Anxiety by Ian Marr

If there’s one thing that almost all high school seniors can agree on, it’s that college applications suck. They suck a lot. It’s bad enough that we’re buried in schoolwork that we can’t afford to lose track of, and application deadlines only add to that stress. If you have a procrastination problem like I do, you’ll understand that this is an absolutely unforgiving combination. Waiting until the deadline date to send your ACT scores only to discover that the website is down for maintenance is possibly one of the worst feelings a student can have. However, looking back on these experiences, I can see that the anxiety that exists with the application process is nothing compared to the relief that’s felt once it’s completed. It is a burden that we are capable of lifting early, but we choose to ignore out of fear. But once it’s done, that fear will become incredibly distant.

Teeth by Claire Ockner

I used to only smile with my lips sealed shut. It started when I was little. I was a shy kid, (which is weird, because now I willingly talk to anything that breathes)  so the goal was always to get through the school day saying as few words as possible. My little brain managed to convince itself that if I didn’t open my mouth, people would assume I didn’t want to talk, causing them to leave me alone. I didn’t show them my teeth, so they didn’t show me theirs.

Picture day was the worst. Photographers would always ask me to “say cheese” or to “smile big”. Some of them even told me jokes and, while I was laughing, they would snap a picture.

Oh, I think I may have forgotten to mention something: I used to have a huge space between my two front teeth. Growing up, I didn’t mind them at all. My Nana and I had the same teeth. She had a warm smile and I thought it was beautiful, tooth gap and all. Her and my mom always told me that my tooth gap made me look like Lauren Hutton. I didn’t know who she was, but my mom told me she was a model. My mom also told me that she showed her teeth in pictures. If Lauren did, why shouldn’t I?

When I was in fifth grade, someone told me I looked like a hippo. I thought it was funny. Hippos are cute. They then told me it was because of the humongous space between my teeth. Suddenly, I didn’t want to look like a hippo. I didn’t want to look like Lauren Hutton or my Nana. I wanted a gapless smile, one that would make me proud to show people my teeth.

Soon after, I got braces. I think I was probably the only kid to ever be excited about getting metal glued into my mouth. I thought it would make me happy. Two expanders, two teeth pullings, and one chain through the roof of my mouth (don’t even ask) later, and shockingly, I still wasn’t happy. Even after my frenectomy, which was supposed to permanently close my gap, I still wasn’t satisfied.

My gap didn’t stay closed for long. It came back, smaller than it was before, but definitely still a gap. For some reason, I didn’t hate it as much as I did before. In fact, I thought it made me look unique. Maybe slightly hippo-like, but a unique hippo nonetheless.

When I got my braces off, my orthodontist asked me if I wanted a retainer that would help close my gap. I said no. I think Lauren Hutton would be proud.

As I write this, I find myself smiling. Not a sealed-lip smile, but a smile that shows off my teeth in all their hippo-like glory.

A Positive Affirmations Piece by Madison L. Wilson

 

Related image

As a tree sheds its autumn leaves,

May you let go any and all insecurities.

Set backs-

Worries-

Or thoughts that you lack in any way.

May you stand firm and tall,

Knowing that you are powerful-

Capable-

And worthy.

Realize that you are fierce fire-

You are a force to recon with, because you recognize:

The only limits you posses are the ones you chooses to accept.

 

Hopefully you read these words, knowing every single one of them is true. It is important to recognize both your strengths and weakness. It is important to try to become the best version of yourself by making mistakes. It is important to make mistakes and fall. Personal growth requires all three. However, you must always get back up and believe that your worries and insecurities do not define you. May this be a reminder to embrace your exceptional qualities and face adversity with self confidence. With that being said: You are capable and you are worthy.