All, Friendship, Insecurities, Personal Experiences

Sticks and Stones…

“She’s so weird…”

I was 9 years old and at my best friend’s birthday party. I was having a great time until a girl I hardly knew leaned over and whispered those words to my friend. She was talking about me.

One would think that I’d be over it 10 years later. I’m well aware that I should be, and I’ve tried hard to forget that moment, but I can’t. It dug deep. That little girl took a knife and stabbed me, etching those words deep into my skin where they would remain forever. It hurt then, and it hurts now. Sure, the pain has faded greatly; the wound has been reduced to a scar. But it still stings a little when I look back on it, and I have a feeling that this will remain the case for the rest of my life.

After that party, I became more self-conscious about my actions and personality. Those words prompted me to begin to analyze everything I did or said. It likely contributed to my frequent self-loathing and why, deep-down, I’m always paranoid that everyone thinks that I’m too weird or annoying or awkward or just overall unlikable.

“You’re such a whiner crybaby!”

“You’re suffocating me.”

“You’re so annoying.”

“You’re a terrible friend.”

“You’ve never done anything for me.”

“Nobody ever wants to talk to you.”

“You act so fake.”

If the words that hurt most left physical wounds, those are just a few phrases that would appear on my skin. All of those, and many others, have cut deep into my self-esteem, causing me to try hard to alter my actions and change my entire personality. And not in a good way. We all can use constructive criticism and we all can improve ourselves because, of course, nobody is even close to perfect. But these things, most of which were said to me by friends, are not constructive criticism. The snippets may not seem like it, but I know that within the context of the situations, they were harsh and unnecessary. All of those words have taken away more and more pieces of me, making it harder and harder to recognize my good characteristics. Now, I constantly worry about what others think of me. Now, I try hard to please everyone. I try hard to be 100% likable. But, of course, I have failed. It’s impossible to make everyone like you and, unfortunately, I think I crack most when I’m with the people I love, because making strangers and acquaintances like me is a near-impossible task that is draining and entirely too much pressure.



I know, I know: “Sticks and stones may break my bones….”

Am I just overly sensitive? I don’t know. It’s entirely possible. But also, as much as we pretend that words don’t hurt and that we’re unaffected by things that people say, that’s just not true. I know that I am not the only person with deep, permanent emotional scars. I know that I am not the only person who has, on occasion, been reduced to emptiness because I so desperately wish that I could be someone else, someone who wasn’t weird, fake, and a crybaby. I know that I am not the only person who constantly over-analyzes every single interaction I have with other people.

To the people who said all of those things, they probably seemed small. In some cases, hurting me was not the intention, and many of those people likely don’t even remember saying it. I won’t pretend that I haven’t said hurtful things, myself; as much as it pains me to think about it, I’m sure that I’ve unintentionally caused scars in other people, too.

But the point is, we can’t just decide what does and doesn’t hurt other people. Words can make someone stop smiling or laughing because someone has told them that the way they express their joy is weird. Words can cause someone to stop doing their favorite hobby or activity, for fear of others’ judgment. Words can—and do—change a person’s entire life.

Personal Experiences


You know those old Christmas lights? When one bulb in the string of lights burns out, the rest of them stop lighting up as well. One would have to search through the entire string of lights just to find the dead one. When that one is replaced, the rest would shine once again…. But oftentimes, it isn’t quite the same. If the lights were colored, the old, red one might be replaced by a blue one, disrupting the entire pattern. And even if it’s not that drastically different, more often than not, the new light sticks out, even if it’s subtle; the color may be a slightly different shade than the others, or the bulb may shine brighter or duller than its friends.

You see, life is similar in that way. Most things are not entirely replaceable. And oftentimes it is way more heartbreaking than a broken Christmas light.

A fifteen year old girl can die suddenly. The world keeps spinning and the vast, vast majority of people on Earth continue with their lives, oblivious to the devastation happening in the relatively small string of people whose lives were touched by the young girl. But to them, especially the ones closest to her, it can feel like an earthquake. A hurricane. A tsunami. To them, it is Earth-shattering and life-changing. To them? Well, their lives may never be the exact same again, because when that little girl left this world, she took a piece of the heart of everyone who cared about her… Some pieces bigger than others. And in her place is a dark spot, one that makes everyone in her orbit feel like they can no longer light up, either.

Chronic Illness, Disability, Insecurities, My Favorites, Personal Experiences, Running, School/Career, Transverse Myelitis

Every Day Changes Us

Me skiing in December 2010, before TM
I was reading a book called Everything, Everything, and it brought up a good point: each and every person on this Earth is the sum of all of the events in his or her life. Everything you experience matters. What makes you, you is the collection of every second, every little experience in your life. Even the seemingly small things matter; take one small experience away, and you may be an entirely different person.
Life is weird that way. We often think about the future, but it’s vague; we have no way of knowing what will happen next. We have no clue what new obstacles life will decide to throw in our paths. It’s strange to think that you could be a completely different person in a year. I mean, during the next year, millions of things will happen. Some will be seemingly minuscule and change us in subtle ways. Others may be drastic. Right now, in the present, there’s no way of knowing. There’s no way of knowing whether your health will get better or worse, or if your anxiety will diminish, or if you’ll learn to be a bit more optimistic. There’s no way of knowing about new friends or significant others. There’s no way of knowing what these experiences will be, or how they’ll shape you.Five years ago, I was 13 years old and about to start 8th grade. I knew that I loved reading and writing and running, and I knew that when I thought about the future, it seemed pretty certain: I was going to run marathons and triathlons; I was going to be in band until college; I was going to do theatre through high school; I was going to grow up to be a speech therapist.


My mom and I December 2010, pre-TM
At least, I thought so.


I never would have expected to be paralyzed a month later. I never would’ve expected that I would end up letting go of every single one those aspirations. I never would’ve expected to love to sing, and I never would’ve expected to love to write in a completely different way. I never would’ve thought that I’d have the friends I have. I never would’ve thought that I would be who I am today; though some of the same traits remain, I often feel like I am, in many ways, different than that girl who lived 5 years ago.


In the hospital at TM onset, August 2011


I held onto that speech therapist dream for so long. When I was around 8 years old or so, I thought about future aspirations, and I realized that speech pathology sounded very interesting. I was proud that I’d known what I wanted to be back when I was just a little kid and stuck with it until my senior year of high school. I thought I was certain.

The thing is, in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t right. I knew that it wasn’t truly my dream anymore; I changed too much. But I needed something to be constant in my life. I needed to hold onto something from the past me. I needed some reminder that I was still the person I was when I was 8 or 10 or 13.

When my band dream was crushed, and I let go of my theatre dream, and my marathoner dream was shattered…. Well, it felt like way too many pieces of me were missing. And I needed to hold onto one of the last pieces: the speech therapist dream.

So that stayed constant. That is, until college got closer and everything got more and more real, and I realized that that was not who I was anymore. Being a speech therapist no longer appealed to me in the way it used to.

I was too changed. I needed to do something different. What really interested me most was something more in the medical field; I felt like I could really put myself into that type of job.

That’s why I started thinking about audiology. But with audiology, I was still trying to hold onto that old piece. I held onto that for a a few months, because it was comfortable; it was still the same major as speech pathology, so if I wanted to, I could easily go back. Audiology sounded fairly interesting, but it was still similar to speech path, and it didn’t feel exactly right. I couldn’t truly see myself enjoying it as much as I could with something different.

So I let go. I forced myself to let go.


Singing at Solo & Ensemble with friends in 2015
Reading my poem at “Writer’s Week” 2016
​I stepped into a whole new world, finally accepting that I’d changed and finally accepting that it’s okay to lose pieces of yourself. Because, the thing is? Those pieces are quickly replaced with new ones. They may be a lot different, but they’re still good; just because you let go of some, doesn’t mean you have holes inside of you.As those experiences—both big and small—start adding up, everyone grows and matures greatly. It’s impossible to be the same person you were as a kid. As we grow and are influenced by so many experiences and other people, our personalities change (sometimes a little bit, sometimes drastically) and are molded into who we are now.

So I’ve decided that being a physician assistant is what best fits with who I am now. And after probably 10 years of “knowing” that I wanted to be a speech path, this sudden change is very scary. I feel like I don’t quite know who I am anymore; my future career felt like a big part of who I was since it was the same for so long, and now it’s suddenly different.

But we’re all trying to find ourselves right now, I think. At 18, it’s hard to know exactly who we are or what we want in life.

And that’s okay. Because we’re still young; we’re still being changed ever-so-slightly by those little experiences day after day after day. ​​

All, Insecurities, Poems, School/Career


You dream.
You dream of having the “perfect” body.
You dream of your eyeliner being even.
You dream of finding “Mr. Right”.
You dream of a face clear of acne,
Of being beautiful enough,
Of being funny enough,
Of being skinny enough.
Us girls?
We dream.
But these are all generalizations,
Of course.
Dreams fed on stereotypes.
Whether we all dream these kinds of things
Or not,
They’re just surface-level dreams.
We dream
Different dreams;
We long for different things.
Deep down,
You dream of being
We dream of being doctors who treat cancer,
Of being the scientists who cure it.
We dream of being astronauts,
Professional chefs,
Football players,

What stops us?
Why do we seem to dwell on the surface-level “dreams?
Why do you tell yourself that being GREAT
Is less possible than clear skin?


Who makes you out to be weak?
To be whiny?
To be shallow?

Who says that us girls
Dream only of having the “ideal” body?
So as to…
Get a man?

Who says that our
Are built upon the ideals
Of men?

The things that society says are beautiful:
The high cheekbones,
Long hair,
Flat stomach,
Thigh gap,
Long eyelashes.
The lack of muscle on our
Arms and legs,
No meat on our bones.

Society believes we need these things
So a guy will find us
So we can have a family
And be a housewife.

Why can’t we define
Why can’t we base our lives off of
Off our own ideals?

Why can’t our goals,
Our desires,
Our wishes
Be based on our own successes?

You’re living in a man’s world, honey.

We’re living in a man’s world
Where it’s more realistic
To dream of fitting a mold,
Where it’s more realistic to be

They want you to be inferior.
They want you to be ordinary.

But you’re NOT.

You don’t have to be.

You go out there and
show them
That it’s
YOUR world,
That you are, in fact,

You go out and show them
That you’re MORE than mediocre.

You’re smart.

You’re driven.

And you have just what it takes
To make the world
Believe in
And your

Friendship, Insecurities, Poems

The Best Are Harder To Find

A box in the rain, on a field outside
Sat wet and gloomy in the bitter cold.
I saw this box, sitting there like it died
Years ago. So I opened it– Behold!
An oyster, so old and… a chunk of gold!
Tossed the shell aside and took the jewel
Everywhere I went. And the stone controlled
What I did, how I lived; I was its mule.
But I threw that pyrite straight at the wall,
And took out the old clam shell I had found.
In it was a beautiful pearl, so small;
It comforted me— healed, saved from that mound.
Toxicity’s out in packages bright,
While the best may be hidden out of sight.

with tm friends
Some of my best friends and I at TM camp
Chronic Illness, Disability, Insecurities, Poems, Transverse Myelitis


01/28/2017– I always hated the last stanza of this poem. Kinda awkward. I finally changed it. Still not perfect, but a lot better, in my opinion. 🙂

I’m dedicating this poem to one of my best friends, Sarah Todd 🙂 She’s been through a lot the last (almost) 6 years of her life, but has found new passions to replace the holes left by the old things she can no longer do. ST has found a way to pick up the pieces and put herself back together; I admire that a lot!! ❤


Pieces, broken cov’ring the floor;
A trail of me lead to the door.
I couldn’t keep together, me;
When a wave hit— disparity.

Nobody knew, because my face
Was happy, smiling, full of grace.
But inside of me was a sea
Of anger, of sadness, not glee.

Was drowning in that water that
Consumed me; chased me like a cat
After a mouse. No one could see
The storm, the war inside of me.

So pieces, on the floor they lie;
Could leave them there to petrify.
Or I could pick them up, maybe,
And show the world I can be free.

Chronic Illness, Disability, My Favorites, Transverse Myelitis

The Little Things

This poem is dedicated to my friend Alex, who also battles TM. She helped spark this poem; we were having a deep conversation about this topic a couple weeks ago. She appears in this poem as “a girl”. :p

Our TM stories are very different, and yet we can still relate to each other in many ways!! I thought having another story interwoven into this poem would help get the point across, since the “little thing” vary from person to person. 🙂 Enjoy! I’m proud of this one.


From the time I could hold a pencil,
Could form shaky letters with the graphite tip,
Only semi-legible,
I loved to write.

I’d write stories,
Imaginative and mysterious,
About wizards and dragons and princesses;
About talking flowers and animals, and taking a trip to the moon.

When I was a child,
I had a routine with my father.
A few days a week we’d practice pull-ups in the basement.
He taught me a lot about life with those pull-ups:
“You can always try to do one more.”

He taught me to push myself, and push myself I did,
In every aspect of my life.

I loved roller coasters,
Especially ones
With the biggest drop.

I loved the feeling of my stomach in my chest
And screaming loudly with my arms in the air.

I know a girl
Who loved fuzzy socks and hot showers,
And skipping and dancing while she walked.

When you’re paralyzed,
When you have a chronic illness,
A lot is taken away.

I can’t walk well; she can’t at all.
We can’t run or ride a bike,
And both of us
Have overwhelming
Pain and fatigue.

We’re teenagers,
And can’t keep up with our homework,
Let alone our friends.

But that’s not what puts a lump in our throats everyday.

When I think of the little things,
Like writing with my right hand,
Or doing pull-ups with my dad,
My heart

When I think of riding a roller coaster,
When I think of the pleasant drop of my stomach
Instead of dizziness and pain
That lasts for
I feel sick.

I miss them,
The little things in life.

When people look at someone who’s disabled,
When they find out what ails them,
They say that they’ll
To appreciate the obvious
Like walking and running.

But that’s hardly what people take for granted.

That girl
Cannot feel the warmth of the water dripping from the shower head
On her legs;
It’s something most of you experience

No one would give it a second thought,
And yet she’d kill to be able to feel it
Just once more.

It might not seem like much,
Since she can’t feel the wind traveling through her hair
As she runs,
Or move anywhere
Without pushing the metal rims
On hard rubber wheels.

And yet,
When she sees the water
Slashing across her lifeless legs
Every day,
The warmth is what she imagines and longs for.
Not walking.

You write with your dominant hand

You use it to write out checks,
To scribble out a grocery list,
To write a quick note to your mom:
“I’m at Jane’s house”.

You’ve written like that since kindergarten;
There’s no reason to give it
A second thought.

But I miss it.

I miss writing with my right hand,
But I can’t.

Paralysis has ruined it
And it’s doubtful it’ll be

Yes, it’s the little things that hurt the most;
We may never know them again.

It’s the little things that make my heart ache,
That make me the most nostalgic.

It’s the little things I most often wish to have back.

The minuscule,
Things are the ones we do
Every day.

The things that are part of a routine,
The ones we are most used to,
Are small puzzle pieces in life
That leave holes
When taken away.

And we want to find those pieces,
To put them back where they belong
Because they create a sense
Of normalcy.

Because when so much of your life has been taken away,
When so much is missing,
You crave the little things