THIS TOXIC WORLD WE LIVE IN

Dear Reader,

I think about this photo set a lot.

It’s from a TV show called Shameless that I still have to watch but is being RAVED about by everyone I know. I just saw the pictures on Tumblr one day, but it’s stuck with me.

“Renaissance women weren’t forced to starve themselves into an anorexic fashion industry marketing version of female sexuality.”

A lot of my friends are starving. One of my friends is a model and she confessed yesterday that she doesn’t eat as much as she should. We were having a casual conversation when she brought it up, and it slipped in almost unnoticeably because that’s so normal.

She’s also pre-med. She’s extremely smart. She’s funny. She’s edgy. But sometimes she doesn’t eat.

I have another friend who “pulls the trigger.” Again, it’s so casual when she talks about it. Sometimes it’s just when she talks about drinking, she’ll say she pulls the trigger in the bathroom of bars (meaning she causes herself to throw up) so that she can rally and drink more.

I once said to a group of friends “sometimes when you end a night of drinking by throwing up, don’t you feel like, well at least all of those calories are getting out of my body.” It’s a pretty relatable thought, actually.

And then we have my sister. She’s a freshman dance major. She’s an average height and a perfect weight. She’s got just enough of a booty, great calves, flat stomach, and is proportional everywhere else. She’s not a size 0, she may not be tall and super thin, but I’m envious of her body. Plus, she dresses well, can do her makeup like a boss, and is clearly the hotter sister.

This weekend after her recital our mother told her that she would be such a better dance if she lost weight.

She agreed.

She agreed before the thought even escaped from my mother’s mouth, because it’s a thought she’s had many times before.

It just makes me so angry. Everyone I talk to–and me–we know better. We know that we’re healthy and that we should love our bodies and that we shouldn’t think these thoughts.

When I went home for fall break and everyone told me how good I looked and asked if I lost weight, I knew it was toxic for them to say that. Because the reason why I’m losing weight is because I’m eating less. Because I’m off campus and I’m a poor (and frugal) college student. But I know that if I get enough positive reinforcement, I’ll continue to not eat as much as I should. I know that if I’ll keep challenging myself to go longer without eating. I know I’ll start to accept the growl in my stomach as a victory cry and I’ll start looking at food as the enemy.

I know I shouldn’t, but I know how slippery the slope is. I know how easily the brain can be manipulated and how, even unwillingly, the body will follow.

I’m not writing this as a cry for help. I’m starting to meal prep again and get back to working out and set my aim to be healthy.

I just hate this society. I hate that girls are going to extreme measures to live up to an unrealistic beauty standard. And I hate that we all know it, too. But we’re duped anyway because of the constant reinforcement from society that we should look a certain way. Because for every “body love” message I see, there’s ten pictures of thin girls–happy girls–that I want to be more.

I might write more on this topic later, but I just needed to vent. I think I’ll check out Believarexic and Winter Girls from the library this week. Just for more reinforcement.

As for now, though, I think I’ll make some spaghetti for dinner.

Sincerely,

Sammy

[VIDEO] THE ONE WHERE SARAH GRADUATES

Dear Reader,

 

Sarah graduated on Sunday and will be attending a college in the fall that is four hours away from me (which is a problem because neither of us will have a car).

Until we part ways, you can expect a lot more videos (vlogs and otherwise) that feature her.

I’m excited.

Sincerely,

Sammy

REASONS TO SKIP CLASS

Dear Reader,

I have not always been the best student. In high school, I made a point not to disclose my dreams of becoming a teacher because I was pretty sure my own teachers would laugh in my face.

I was the kid who constantly under-achieved. Who never turned in homework. Who skipped test days because I was unprepared.

I mean, not all of them. I still excelled in certain classes and I guess I did well enough to get an honors diploma (although I might as well be living proof that getting that sticker on your diploma is not that hard to do and is virtually pointless.)

Anyway, my point that I’m trying to come to is that I’ve gotten better. But we all have relapses, and this morning I skipped my 8am.

Why?

Because I was having a great dream when my first alarm went off at 7:20. If I had gotten up then, I would have just enough time to do everything I needed to do–get dressed (and look presentable enough to take my new passport picture after class), brush my teeth, go to King Cafe and get some coffee and maybe even a breakfast sandwich.

Mind you, it takes me FOREVER to get ready in the morning.

But I rolled back over and closed my eyes, wanting to return to my wonderful dream for only a moment.

And you know what I dreamt? I dreamt that I was getting ready.

I went through EVERYTHING that my morning routine consists of and then I walked to–not King–but Starbucks! And I splurged on a carmel latte and breakfast sandwich and it all looked so good and it was so realistic and then they called my name and smiled at me, about to present to me my glorious food–

and my alarm went off.

7:45.

I was going to be late to class AND I would have to repeat everything I just did (not really, but still) AND I wouldn’t even have time for coffee OR a sandwich.

And then I’d have to sit through 2 hours of linguistics with my mean teacher who loves calling on random people even though none of us anything because she doesn’t teach.

Yeah, no thanks.

So I skipped. And it was a dumb reason, but (although I don’t regret it), it got me thinking about all of the other dumb reasons I’ve skipped class before.

And then I compiled the list and decided to share it with you.

Enjoy.

REASONS I’VE SKIPPED CLASS

  • my bed was warm (outside of it was cold)
  • overslept
  • talked myself into thinking going would be pointless
  • didn’t do homework
  • forgot I had class
  • had a panic attack
  • forgot to show the night before
  • I didn’t have any clean pants
  • food poisoning (that was fun)
  • crying
  • to study for another class (lol)
  • kept having nose bleeds

(I actually emailed my professor about that last one and she was SUPER understanding, so that was cool)

That’s all I have, and hopefully I don’t add any more reasons to list any time soon. I mean, some of them are actually valid, but others…just…smh.

Anyway, I’m trying to be better.

We’ll just forget about today.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. Can we all just take a second to be impressed that “hungover” didn’t make the list? Thank you.

WHY I CRIED IN CLASS

Dear Reader,

In this Monday’s “Learners with Exceptions” class, the lecture given by Ms. Molly Kelly-Elliott focused on “Specific Learning Disabilities.” She started with the topic of dyslexic learners, but then moved onto about ADHD (not a SLD, but it can sometimes be seen in these students as well).

She started using examples.

Imagine, she said. Your son comes home from school and he knows he has 20 math problems due tomorrow and a rough draft for a paper due on Friday. You tell him to get his homework done and you see that he’s not doing minecraft or surfing the web or anything. You see that he’s actually working. And when he comes down three hours later you say, is your homework done?

He’s shocked.

Done? I just started!

You look over his shoulder and, sure enough, see that he only has one a half pages written.

So you think, what?! How? This is a paper that you could’ve knocked out in thirty minutes! What is wrong with this kid?

But that’s just the way he is. He doesn’t think ahead and realize he should probably prioritize his homework and do the twenty questions of math first–the ones that are due tomorrow. He doesn’t think about the consequences. He has seven tabs open, doing research for this one paper–this rough draft–that is due Friday and he is completely unaware that he is taking up too much time with it.

She went on to talk to us about this poor kid–this poor kid who just doesn’t know! He doesn’t know he needs to learn how to learn! He needs to learn how to study and learn how to better organize his work. He has no idea that he’s different.

Example after example she showed us. Slide after slide popped up, analysing these students.

“Metacognition and Executive Functions of the Brain”

“Motivation/Learned Helplessness”

“Social-Emotional Issues”

You know, we’ve got to help these kids! She said. I mean, can you just imagine? Their brains are just making it harder for them and everyone else around them seems struggle-free, but they just don’t know. So they start to feel helpless and worthless and their self esteem drops–I mean of course it does! Wouldn’t yours??

She went on and on, urging the class to be empathetic. To put themselves in the shoes of these kids. And although the main topic of class was SLD, every example she used was a student with ADHD.

And every characteristic was one I resignated with.

Every example was a story from my childhood.

I was the student on the slides, being analysed in that classroom.

But she was right. I didn’t know. And even after that class, and even sitting here right now, there are things I don’t know about this disorder. This way that my brain works.

When I went in to see that therapist at 15, I didn’t think I could possibly have ADHD because I didn’t think of myself as uncontrollably hyperactive. And they didn’t sit down with me and say, you have a disorder called inattentive ADHD, but it’s something you can totally handle and deal with. It can explain some of your behavior or personality traits, but there are also some struggles that come with it that you might just have to work a big harder to overcome, just so you don’t have too much trouble in the future. Here, let’s focus on getting you (and keeping) organized and let’s work on some strategies that will help you with your schoolwork, like prioritizing and setting goals.

They didn’t say any of that. Instead, I learned I have ADD, but don’t worry because it’s basically a dime a dozen with your generation, oh and here’s some meds that’ll just fix you right up. Those don’t work fast enough? Here’s another brand. Oh, except that’s not on your insurance, so let’s switch to that one. Shoot, you’re having heart palpitations? Let’s do some tests–okay you have something called POTS, here’s three pamphlets and some more readings. This can help explain certain things you’ve been dealing with because it’s something you’ve had for quite a while, but it’s totally manageable. Here are some more tips and stories of other people with this. Do your research. Come to me with any questions. You’re totally fine.

Oh, back to ADD? Umm, here try this pill. Feel good? Good. Because without it you might start feeling completely worthless and fall into a downward spiral of depression and self-hatred. Haha yeah, sucks.

Good luck.

add

So that brings us up to speed to the present, where every new discovery just seems to hit me like a ton of bricks. And sitting through that class did just that. I blinked back tears as I sat in the corner of the room and tried my best to inconspicuously wipe away any that had already begun to fall.

But it’s so weird going through school to become a teacher, because you realize how much more help you wish you would have had when you were there. I wish I was offered a class about how to study rather than a practically pointless study hall. I wish my English teachers had shelves in their classrooms, filled with row after row of alternate books we could read and discuss in class, or separately with them, because there’s so much literature I wish I hadn’t missed out on in my coming-of-age years. I wish my guidance counselor actually knew who I was past a transcript and an ACT score and, I don’t know, actually offered guidance.

My high school years are behind me, though, but I’ll still get to see thousands of students go through them themselves when I actually become a teacher.

I don’t know, I guess that’s my revelation here. There’s a lot of progress to be made in schools (and I only touched on a very very small part), and I’m determined to see it through.

I’m just trying to minimize the amount of tears shed in college. 

Sincerely,

Sammy

STORYBOOK: THE TIME THEY TOLD ME I HAD ADD

Dear Reader,

I think I’ve always been lazy. I have the ability to overcome it and can be weirdly motivated for certain projects, but I think at my core, I’m a lazy person. And I think the worst thing you can tell a kid that’s lazy is that they’re gifted.

Because that almost condones it, right? Like, you’re allowed to be lazy because things are going to come easier to you and for some reason, maybe genetics, maybe the way you were raised, you’re just not going to have to work that hard to pass classes. Not like some other students.

And I look back, and I can see that. I see that school was easy for me. I guess. In the sense that I didn’t put in that much effort on projects I didn’t like and I still managed to pass. And, like I said, I am capable of working hard. I spent so much time writing stories and songs and poems and in my personal journals. I even spent a lot of time doing math problems for fun and counting my quarter collection and designing my biome for science class. It didn’t really matter to me if it was for school or not–if I enjoyed it, I would do it. If I didn’t, I would procrastinate. And maybe I would never even get around to doing it.

Trust me, I know how bad that is. It’s one of the things I hate about myself, but I think it’s who I am at my core, which is why it’s so hard for me to change. But it’s gotten me in trouble. It almost got me kicked out of the accelerated fourth grade class I was placed in. And it did get me kicked out of honors English.

But I always managed to stay afloat and get grades that pleased my father and score in the top percentages of all of the standardized tests I took growing up. And then high school came along, and classes got boring.

Really boring.

In eighth grade I took algebra and american history, both of which I loved. So I excelled. Freshman year I took AP government and biology and geometry. Proofs and labs and dry reading were what (should’ve) filled my days.

I couldn’t do it, though. I couldn’t force myself to learn–or to focus. I spent classes daydreaming and looking out windows. But I guess it didn’t really end there. I think it might’ve carried over into conversations and even onto the soccer field.

Funniest_Memes_what-the-hell-is-that-oh-just-my-mind_13355

“Sorry, I zoned out.”

But, come on, I was fourteen years old! Of course I’m not going to be interested in AP government or every time my mother lectures me about my room. And yeah, sometimes it’s bad if I miss the starting lineup because my mind is somewhere else, but that only happened a handful of times.

So I laughed when my two friends confronted me.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but we think you might have ADD.”

I even laughed when I told my parents.

“You’ll never guess what Jaden and Lekha told me today!”

But instead of laughs, I got, “Alright, well we’ll schedule an appointment and go from there.”

What?

I still rolled my eyes on the way to the appointment. I mean, we were going to see a therapist. I didn’t need a therapist! (lol look at me now)

He was very nice, but I didn’t really get why we were doing all of this. I was in this closet-like room at first and had to click the mouse as soon as I saw the white letter X (I think) against the black screen. Don’t click for the other letters.

Eh, I think I was just trigger-happy.

Then he asked me a few riddles and basic math problems. I made sure not to fidget or shake my feet and I focused really hard. But, I mean, it was August. I was a little rusty.

I still remember a riddle about something with six strings on your back. I was stumped and I asked my mom about it in the car and she said, “guitar?”

Okay, so this guy’s going to tell me that I don’t have ADD, but I’m no longer gifted.

How did I not get guitar?

But, honestly, I thought I killed it. Yep, I was like, I know what ADD looks like and the way I presented myself was nothing of the sort. I’ve got nothing to worry about.

Later that day my brother drove me to soccer with his friend in the car and, laughing, I said, “Guess what I did today! Got tested for ADD!”

The awkward silence that followed told me that maybe I shouldn’t be joking about this quite yet.

Well, we went back awhile later and the guy told me that I could get a prescription for adderall. You know, for my ADD. Because my brain doesn’t work like others, he said. When most people have thoughts, basically, their brain can handle it. They can connect them quickly–he explained this as he moved his finger in a circle. But for me, I guess my thoughts go around that circle too quickly.

See? I’m too smart?

Just kidding.

He basically gave two examples. One, he said that’s why sometimes I say things without explaining how I got to that thought. I assume my thought process is the same as everyone else’s, but really, it can be kind of hard to follow along unless I articulate. And I guess that’s because of the speedy circles in my brain.

(I wish I knew something about neurology so I could explain this better)

(I should have at least tried to pay attention in biology)

Two, he said that if a teacher says, “don’t pay attention to the car honking outside,” and then a car honks outside, I’ll basically have to look. It’ll be an instinct that I can’t stop, or once my brain thinks “don’t look outside,” I’ll already be looking.

Yeah, I don’t know either. But every time a car honks outside, I look and I don’t know if it’s because he told me this years ago, or if it’s actually something I would do anyway.

That’s the thing–I feel like anyone who went to this guy could be diagnosed with ADD. I don’t know exactly what his evidence was, but I had a hard time buying it for a while. I’ve been on and off my meds (because I was an angsty teenager who was terrified of permanent, irreversible effects–actually, I am still very much both of those things). And then this year, I had to go months without them at all, and I felt absolutely hopeless. I felt broken. And dependent.

So that sucked.

And the worst thing is that I always see the pictures of how different brains look in regards to depression and ADHD and bipolar disorder, but there’s never ADD. The guy made a point that I didn’t have ADHD (the difference being hyperactive), but I never see anything regarding the struggles of people with ADD. And that sometimes makes me think it’s made up to sell performance-enhancing drugs (I would consider adderall and ritalin to be in this category) to motivationless kids.

Which brings me back to the reminder that I’m lazy.

So I don’t know what to think, but that’s the story of the time they told me I had ADD. And maybe one day I’ll write a story about the day I decided I was over it. Or maybe I’ll go back to that doctor and confront him and make him show me the notes he took on me and why he gave me this diagnosis.

I feel like it wasn’t supposed to screw me up so much, but it did. I feel like it was just supposed to explain some things–answer some questions I always had about myself. But I’ve been more confused than ever.

Sometimes I wish I could just have a full brain scan and they could tell me exactly what’s wrong with me.

But other times I think maybe I don’t want to know.

Sincerely,

Sammy

COLLEGE IS HARD AND WHAT ARE MIDTERMS

Dear Reader,

College is hard, you guys.

Before I went, people told me that classes were going to be difficult, but there are quite a few things that they didn’t disclaim. For example, I was under the impression that each of my classes would have an exam or two–maybe a project, maybe a paper–and those would make up the majority of my grade. Homework would no longer be a thing.

That is not correct.

I have nightly homework for each class, but only two of them don’t check. In three of my classes, I’m expected to read a few articles or a chapter or something, and then write a reflection or a summary or a notecard with a question on it–just to prove that I read it.

Oh and also, that’s what homework is now. Reading. So much reading. I have to read two to three articles every class for geography. I have to read chapters in my textbook for my journalism class and my media class and my rhetorical analysis class. I have to read Shakespeare for my Shakespeare class (obviously), and I have to read books, articles, graphic novels, and everything under the sun for my literacy class. Which makes sense.

tumblr_ngho3wGVGU1s3moo5o3_250

But seriously, when I’m a teacher and kids are complaining about my class and asking why we have to read so much, I’ll just ask them: do you want to go to college? Because if yes, I don’t care what you’re majoring in, you’re going to be reading. I’ve talked to my friends in the business school and my friends who are pre-med and my friends in engineering and it’s all just reading.

Prepare yourself.

And then finally, midterm week isn’t a thing. Not really. And if it is a thing, it’s not the same for everyone. I thought last week was midterm week because I had a paper due in one class and an exam in another. Then I thought this week might be in because I had an actual midterm exam in one class and a project due in another. But now I’m pretty sure it’s next week because I have two exams and two projects due.

But that’s the thing: you don’t get one week of lots of work and then a week of break. You get work on top of work on top of work. And maybe it’s just because I’m taking six classes, but I think some of it also has to do with these teachers. I mean, we had a project due in one class and in that same class, we have an exam next week. And then I had a rhetoric exam on Monday, and he just assigned our next paper in the next class.

So, basically, I just had to vent. And sort of explain why I haven’t been writing blog posts or uploading videos. And also warn anyone who has a completely different idea of what college will be like. Because this is my reality, and I was not expecting of it.

Alright, well this was a nice 15-minute break, but I’m gonna go now. Get my nose back to the grindstone.

Is that something people still say?

Sincerely,

Sammy

“ASPIRING TEACHER SMACKS DOWN COMMON CORE IN A FEARLESS VIDEO RANT”

Dear Reader,

That is the name of the article I’m featured in.

I posted a video a few days ago in which I voiced some concerns and opinions about the american school system. Shortly after, I got an email from a very nice lady named Paula who just so happens to be the associate editor at PJ Media. She then wrote a sweet article about me and posted it on her website.Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.41.27 PM

When I went to bed last night, it had been shared 121 times and had just over 700 views. I’ve yet to check what it’s at now.

But I was lowkey freaking out yesterday when I began to realize what was happening. Now, it’s not like this video is going to go viral or anything, but it makes me kind of worried how many people are sharing it and how many Facebook and Twitter timelines it might be popping up on now. As I’ve said before, my blog and YouTube channel are relatively private. I know that posting content online runs the risk of having the whole world as a potential audience, but I figured I would never have to worry about that.

So now knowing that my parents or distant relatives or people form my high school could find out that sometimes I talk to myself in front of a camera and upload it for the world to see… well that’s kind of freaky.

Secondly, this audience that is viewing the video is very different. It’s not made up of the friendly faces that greet me when I log onto WordPress. It’s made up of educated, experienced, and opinionated adults. Many of whom have taught for years and have their own relative discourse when approaching this subject.

And here I am, a kid from Ohio, who thought “man, the price of college is annoying. Common core is annoying. You know what? The whole grade system is annoying!” And then I made a video.

Needless to say, some people didn’t take kindly to my “weird examples” and “ignorant questions,” and some of the things they said were just mean. My favorite exchange was this:

“She’s an intelligent, articulate young woman. But she won’t last as a teacher. I give her maybe five years.”

And then:

“I don’t find her to be intelligent and articulate. I find her to be a snarky smart ass who should be researching answers to her questions rather than pontificating on things as if she has some kind of great insight when she’s utterly clueless.”

But I still stand by everything I said and I’m actually learning a lot from this ruthless comment section. In fact, the meanest person (in my opinion) actually answered a lot of my questions. Now, he managed to get a few zingers in between them, but my questions have been answered. Thanks, bud.

So I thought I’d share this with you all because, hey, the article is actually really nice and I feel very well represented. Besides, I made this video to start this conversation, so isn’t it good that people are talking?

Or maybe I should just be more careful what I wish for.

Have a great day y’all!

Sincerely,

Sammy

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM

Dear Reader,

If you didn’t already know, I’m an education major. And a few weeks ago in class, I started thinking about all the things that annoy me about the american school system. As it turns out, there’s a lot.

So, I wrote an open letter, then I read it out loud in front of a camera, and forgot to upload it for a few weeks.

Oops.

But I’m sharing it now because sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest, you know? And let’s be honest–there’s plenty that can be fixed with our education system, and I’m not really seeing the progress I’m looking for.

So here’s a video of me reading a very abridged list of what worries me regarding the future of America and our school system. Enjoy if you want.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{PERSONAL ESSAY} STATE CHAMPION

The air was icy cold and the freezing wind was, at times, brutal, but my layers kept me warm. Two pairs of socks, shin guards held up by duct tape, new cleats that hadn’t gotten much use (and wouldn’t be getting much use from there on out). Sliding shorts underneath my own white shorts that were just slightly different from everyone else’s. My hair was fashioned into a french braid that pulled back into a ponytail. Everyone had to have some sort of braid in their hair–for good luck, of course. We were a very superstitious team, and we couldn’t risk breaking any of our many rituals on November 9th.

Finally, and most important to the uniform, a long-sleeved number 19 jersey that I wore with an unsure sense of pride. Sure I was proud of my school, proud of my soccer program, proud of my community, but this jersey indicated that I was proud of myself. This jersey, the same one that was framed and hung on my bedroom wall once it was all over, was proof that I was part of this team. It didn’t say I was a small part, the most insignificant part, but people knew. And I couldn’t stop myself from wondering. All of the validation I crammed into my head was fleeting to say the least, and didn’t prevent the same old thoughts from creeping in.

What am I doing here? Do I even belong? What did I do to deserve all of this?

Then again, it’s not like it mattered. No one was focused on me anyhow.

I checked out the other team. They didn’t feel like my opponent, but I sized them up for the sake of the team. Mason High School. They’d always had a strong team. This certainly wasn’t their first time to the state championships, so they had that one up on us. Their forwards were fast and good shots. I was glad I wouldn’t be going up against them that day. Lucky. Relieved. That would’ve been the worst day to crack under the pressure of being a defender.

I warmed up with the team, silent through it all. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to, and I didn’t want to bother anyone who was trying to focus. I was just along for the ride. Like a little kid on bring your kid to work day. They showed me how it was done and I watched with awe.

The only problem I had with being so quiet was that I was alone with my thoughts, which was the worst. I wanted to feel like everyone else on the team. Pure pride and satisfaction. But when I was pondering these thoughts, I came to the conclusion that everyone hated me. I did half the work, had a tenth of the talent, but still got this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  It just didn’t make sense.

I couldn’t bear the thought of it anymore, so I looked around and took it all in. It was beautiful. The sky was dark black and the stadium lights shone down on us like spotlights. The field was pristine. A field I would’ve loved to play on, just not that day. I had felt myself falling out of love with the game for a while at this point, but this vision ignited a spark that would last just a few months more. Sure, that spark was meant to burn out eventually, but it kept me going for a little while longer.

I looked at the student section and saw all of these familiar faces, but I didn’t make eye contact with a single one because none of them were looking at me.

And why would they? They were looking at the 2012 dream team! A perfect season with 23 wins, 108 total goals scored with just 5 goals against. Led by Maddy Williams and Molly Whitacre–amazing athletes who went on to play at Purdue and Ohio University. Goalkeeper Chloe Buehler who came back from a devastating injury, only to break records and save the team countless times throughout the season. These were the players to watch. Who was I? Sammy Neiswander, junior, wasn’t she on JV? Oh, Sean’s little sister! He’s so good! Sucks about his ACL though…

That was my legacy. My brother was a player that I never lived up to, but his time got cut short due to a very unfortunate ACL tear. Then he went and tore his other one. Twice. He would never play soccer again. This game that he adored stabbed him in the back, and now he has to watch other people do what he had once dedicated his life to.

It wasn’t fair that I was living what was so many people’s dreams when I had done nothing thus far to deserve it.

I thought of the all the others. I thought of the girls whose places I took. Becca, Kenzi, Vicki, Maddy. They were all older than me, all arguably more talented and more suited for the team than me. Why was I the one chosen? Because I played defense? Because I stayed healthy throughout my entire career? Those weren’t good enough reasons for me.

I turned my attention back to the stands. I studied the sea of parents, overwhelmed with pride for their talented children. After all, this is what these soccer moms had been dreaming of for over a decade. All of the time, effort, and money. All of the carpooling and snack schedules and kissing the asses of the various coaches. All of it was paid off for them. They were living through their daughters that day, so life was good.

I looked back at the student section. Something kept drawing my eyes back to them. I was meant to be up there with them. I was a poser on the field. A glorified fan, really. I was dressed to play, but we all knew that I would be warming the bench all night.

And that I did. Sure, I was invested in the game. I sat on the edge of my seat. I jumped at every shot a player made and thanked God every time Chloe saved the day. And I rushed the field with every other person dressed in a black and gold jersey when the 90 minutes were up, thinking what every other person in the stands was thinking that night.

They did it! They won the state championships!

The game had ended. My own personal Hell that involved me sitting on the bench, drowning in my thoughts and contradicting feelings, was finally over. But it was really just the beginning.

I got swept up in the whole mess of it. We were recognized at a basketball game, the Walleye game, the state house, and the holiday parade. We signed hundreds of Christmas cards and set them to local businesses, thanking them for their support. We got sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts and jewelry, all labeled 2012 State Champion.

What an achievement.

Countless girls have told me how that night was the single best night of their life. How that is their favorite memory from high school and how that is the biggest accomplishment they’ve ever made. And how can I disagree? What have I done that is bigger than being a part of that team?

Until I can come up with a good answer, I have to live with this. With my face on the wall of Perrysburg High School. With my jersey hung up in my room with my name engraved in perfect font. With my state ring, gathering dust inside my jewelry box, haunting me. I can never wear it because I never earned it, but I can’t get rid of it because it’s proof of my greatest success.

And soon it won’t fit. My fingers won’t always be the same size that they were when I was 16. I just hope that when the day comes that it is too small, I won’t need it anymore.