an open letter

If I were a text message, I would not say, “hey, what’s up?” I wouldn’t keep it simple or overly casual. I wouldn’t worry about being “too obvious” or “too eager.” I wouldn’t be a “yeah, that’d be cool” in response to, “we should hang out sometime.” I’d be a, “what time are you free?” Upfront. To the point. Shameless. Calm.

Sometimes, I would be “k.” Misunderstood. Taken out of context. Overanalyzed.

I’m misread, sarcasm mistaken for seriousness.

I’d be a double text because after I said something stupid, I’d realize what I actually wanted to say and words are important to me.

If I were a text message, I would be a paragraph with lots of stories and questions.

Who,

What,

Where,

When,

Why,

I need the details.

If I were a text message, you’d see me because I wanted to talk to you or ask you something. I wouldn’t just make a regular appearance for no reason. I don’t want to just chill in your inbox all the time,

Unanswered.

Unread.

Ignored.

I’ll get bored. It’s not a fun place to hang out, and I know that somewhere else, someone would read every word. Someone would take the time to understand. To answer. To think. Their response wouldn’t have to be long or complex or overly thoughtful.

But they’d simply be there, in my inbox, waiting to be

Answered.

Read.

Acknowledged.

If I were a text message, I’d be a paragraph length story in response to “hey, what’s up?” I’d be a long story in response to “what are you doing this weekend?” I wouldn’t be a “cool” in response to your story, or an “oh.”

If I were a tweet, frankly, I’d be more than one. I wouldn’t be just 140 characters. I’d go on and on and on. Not because I’m overly interesting or complex, but because I babble. I tell stories. And I tend to not hold back.

I’m a shameless double text. I’m a who, what, where, when, why.

If that annoys you, I could send you less. I could be “hey, what’s up?” and “oh cool.” But don’t expect to read or know more. Don’t expect me to “open up more” if you left me, in all my honesty, unread.

a little growing up to do

Going into college, I thought I was a super mature person ready to conquer the adult world. I thought I had it all planned out.

I wrote for a few websites. I had an internship. This was before I turned 18.

Surely, by the time I was actually 18, I would be spending my summers in New York City in a big magazine office. Surely, I would have a neatly organized resume and I would have everything figured out.

It’s true that I’ve always gotten along better with people who are older than I am. I feel more in my comfort zone in an office building than at a party. But these things alone don’t mean that I’ve completely “grown up.”

What I’ve learned is that college is about learning, and I still have more of it to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually awesome. It’s actually an adventure.

Things have shifted. Some of the people and places that used to feel like home don’t anymore. Some still do. And I have some new relationships that I value more than I could’ve ever imagined.

The same work doesn’t excite me anymore. I’ve found new endeavors. I’ve kept some of the same ones. I’ve finally learned to quit, because before, I just kept making new commitments without giving any up. I’ve learned to prioritize. I’ve learned that not everything goes as you expect it to, but everything works out in some way or another.

A year ago today, as I was sitting in a high school classroom, did I think I’d be spending one of my first days of summer blogging in a local coffeeshop that I’ve been going to all my life? No. Of course not.

But am I unhappy here? No. Of course not.

I’m happy to be here. I’m happy with the work I’m doing. Everything is a learning experience, and I truly believe I need this summer at home. I need to do some soul searching in the most constant, familiar place I could be.

A few months ago, I planned on attending a conference on campus. Instead, I slept through half of it then woke up with a fever. I went to the doctor’s office instead of the conference. That isn’t the decision I would’ve made months ago. Months ago, I would’ve said “no, I’m fine” and I would’ve gone to the conference. I would’ve thought it was the most “adult” decision I could’ve made. But it wouldn’t have been. I needed to see a doctor. I needed to rest. I needed to take a break.

And being able to know when that’s the case, and not ignoring it, is a new skill I’ve acquired.

I thought I’d be spending my summer in New York, working at a magazine and keeping up with my online work. In reality, I’m quitting most of my online work. I haven’t outgrown my clothes in years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t grow mentally and emotionally. I’ve outgrown certain experiences and places. They may still find their way into my life, but that doesn’t mean I should keep wearing them just because they fit.

Yesterday I bought a pair of “adult” shoes. Heels. Shoes that I used to not be able to walk in. Those shoes don’t make me an adult. But they make me feel confident. I’ve outgrown my flats that keep me closer to the ground. I’m ready to stand taller and dream bigger.

I used to think dreaming big meant doing as much as I could. Now I see it as doing what makes me happiest. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone to do what feels best for me.

They say, “if the shoe fits…” but it shouldn’t simply fit. It should feel both comfortable and uncomfortable. It should make you feel both lost and amazing.

To some people, maybe the work I’m doing is less impressive now. Maybe the heels make me look like I’m trying too hard. But I don’t care. This is the time to try on new things. I shouldn’t just keep settling for what kind of, sort of fits if it doesn’t make me feel awesome.

Paige Sheffield