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  • Lotus Magazine MC

yours truly, michaela

From childhood, we are told what we are and what we aren't. Consistently categorizing one another based on factors such as looks, age, who one's friends are, and how one dresses becomes instinctual. We take each other at face value, and this is so set in stone that we have a hard time believing people change. But who really are we without all these predetermined boxes to check off, constraining our understanding of each other? Who am I beyond my physical self and beyond the expectations and perceptions of others? Who am I now that I am back in a place I have since journeyed so far from? Am I still the same person I was the last time I was here? The same person that everyone remembers me by? How do I remind myself that I’ve grown and to not fall into my old habits? That I am so much more than just the personality traits attributed to my name, both by myself and others? Have I really changed? I think that I’m having growing pains. When I was a kid, my family and I would go to a place that is unlike anywhere else I know of. After a five-hour drive and ferry ride away from my hometown, we’d arrive at an indescribable place. My first time there was before I learned how to walk, and we have returned every year since. I told my third-grade class about it once when it was my turn for show and tell and I forgot to bring something in. I described the oil lamps and early nights, and that the rooster crowing across the way was our alarm. How the winding dirt roads through the village eventually led you to the miles of forest trails. I would build fairy houses on the soft moss between the wise trees towering over me, emerging from the woods to jump into the cool Atlantic Ocean. We would always stay at the same bed and breakfast, where you could eat family-style meals with all the other guests, and I idolized the waitresses working there. After hearing of the way of life on the island, my classmate asked why my family and I would ever want to go there. It's one of those places that admittedly aren't for everyone, but that’s what makes the bond between the people who love it so much stronger. In January of this year, I got a call from the owner of the bed and breakfast, who has watched me grow up. For below minimum wage plus tips, I had been offered the best job on my resume. A week after the spring semester ended, I drove that five hours and took the ferry to the magical island. There I stayed until two weeks before the fall semester began. I lived in a dorm with my coworkers, and then some. The demographic ranged from 30-year-old male strangers to amazing women who I have created lifelong connections with, to my sister and her ex-boyfriend. We all shared one bathroom. I would work eight to ten-hour days, six days a week, cooking, cleaning, baking, and housekeeping. Since the dorm was ten steps away from where the guests would stay, we never really were off the clock. The meaning of something building character is something I fully understand now. Life was not perfect, but I was the person my inner child always thought of myself to be. After work, I would run down to the beach and let the day be carried away by the waves. My one day off a week was meant for hiding in the woods. My coworker, a former waitress who I met when I was 12, introduced me to trail running. This mostly consisted of hopping over roots and rocks and accepting the fact that you're going to bust your ass at some point. I was able to disconnect from what I thought reality was, strip myself of my ego, and act as my truest self on a daily basis. I was able to unlearn my previous conditioning of basing my entire judgment of one’s character based on singular interactions. I discovered who I am beyond my physical, beyond how others think of me, and beyond the adjectives that I have defined myself with for my entire life. I learned to think of others in the same way. Now I am figuring out how to be that person outside the comfort of Mother Nature. Applying the perspective I gained this summer to my present everyday life now consists of trying to remember I am not who I was, but at the same time who I was is also who I am now. It seems paradoxical, but reality is created by perspective. I can leave behind what I no longer am, and carry with me everything that caters to who I am and want to be. Which is much easier said than done. But every day is a new opportunity.

Yours truly,

Michaela Sinead


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