coming clean

As a young girl, I was obsessed with Hilary Duff. I watched Lizzie McGuire frequently and had all of Hilary’s CDs. I’d picture myself standing in the rain, dramatically shouting the words to “Come Clean” like in the music video. I’d picture myself as a teenager, putting on red lipstick while listening to “Wake Up.” During “So Yesterday,” I’d see myself walking the streets of some imagined city, surrounded by flowers and local markets and friendly people. “Fly” reminds me of an exact moment with my cousins after our bond had been strengthened by a family loss. I still hear my cousin whispering to me in the darkness while her friends were in the other room; we had something that connected us, something that seemingly could not be broken. But “Why Not” was another story. “Why Not” was my ultimate spin-happily-in-a-circle-while-wearing-a-summer-dress song. It was the kind of song that made me twirl around until I got dizzy and jump on my trampoline until I fell over. 

“Why not take a crazy chance?”

I had always wanted to believe that I lived my life with this “why not” outlook. I liked to think I was carefree, fearless, and ambitious. 

It’s absolutely crazy that these songs can be a part of our lives for so long without us making sense of them for; that these songs can be our anthems without ever actually guiding us until much later when we don’t even listen to them anymore.

Because I could twirl around in my dress in my living room all I wanted, but I didn’t learn how to embrace “why not” until my junior year of high school when I stopped letting my fears dictate my life. When I started going to zumba classes and truly doing “a crazy dance.” When every day started to feel like “a crazy chance.” A crazy, beautiful, worthwhile chance.

I could listen to my cousin’s stories and feel connected to her, but I didn’t learn about how relationships fall apart until I was 14 and we lost that connection without any sort of warning. I didn’t understand before that “flying” takes a lot of trying. 

I could imagine myself as a teenager or an adult, thinking that I had everything figured out, but that wouldn’t make me figure anything out in the future. I didn’t learn this until recently. All my life, I wanted to be sure of myself. I wanted to have everything figured out. I wanted this so badly that I convinced myself it was true. Easily, I could make myself believe that I knew exactly where I wanted to be and exactly how I would get there. But the truth is that I don’t know everything. I don’t know exactly where I will go. I have so many interests. I have so many goals. I stumble and fall a lot. I keep going, sometimes turning in other directions. I stay up late, trying to figure out what I’m going to do. I make lists. I cross off what I’ve written only a day later. I go back and forth trying to figure everything out.

But the words Hilary sang were right all this time: “If you lose a moment, you might lose a lot…”

And that’s what I’ve been doing: passing up moments. Skipping the chapter of my life where I put on red lipstick and “wake up, wake up on a Saturday night.” Bottling up what I feel instead of just “coming clean.” Imagining myself as a “bird that’s already flown away,” without even allowing myself to leave the ground.

Thank you, Hilary, for the metamorphosis.

Thank you, Hilary, for the metamorphosis.

I’m coming clean now, and it’s more than me just shouting to myself in my imagination. It’s me taking control of my life. It’s me repairing the broken relationships and embracing “why not” and enjoying the moment and exploring the world around me. It’s me finally, finally taking the advice that Hilary Duff’s CD gave me years ago: “go, baby, go.” 


Paige Sheffield 


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