How Losing Her Changed My Life

Photograph Courtesy of Katrina Sainvil

Here is An UNSCRIPTD Journey written by Chelsea Miller:

She was beautiful, though not in the way we’ve come to understand beauty. Much like the way children shine from within, it was a type of beauty that stemmed from her mischievous nature, and her desire to smile and love unabashedly. It was a beauty that was worth holding on to, fighting for, and believing in.

She was brave. She believed she could achieve anything. In her mind anything was possible, and in her eyes everything was simple.

The she I refer to is the younger version of myself.

The first  time I realized I lost her, was when my mom got laid off during my freshman year of high school. If you’ve ever had a parent lose a job, you know the feeling. It is indescribable. You feel like a burden and helpless at the same time. In a weird way, you resent yourself for it. No amount of preparation can prepare you for such a drastic change in how you see yourself and the world. During that time in my life, I learned my first lesson: anything was possible, though not always in a good way.

The second time I realized I lost her, was in high school. In my senior year, one of my close friends passed away in a house fire. We were on a step team together, and had spent many hours talking about boys, college, and cracking jokes. There’s something about death that rocks you to your core. It shakes your foundation and forces you to search for answers — answers that will never come, because nothing is simple. That was the hardest lesson to learn.

Losing so much forced me to take risks, but also to be strategic. I aimed for the stars, set goals, and achieved them. I got into an Ivy League school. I started a non-profit organization to empower girls and women of color, then expanded it to three cities. I traveled to three countries: Burma, Turkey, and Tunisia. And I landed my dream job working at the White House during the Obama Administration.

All of this happened because I was determined to carve a path for myself and others. I was determined to make a difference.

But the truth is, every victory came with a sacrifice. All of my accomplishments came at a price. I had to let go of the younger version of myself, a vibrant free spirit who was unapologetically herself and unabashedly free.

I had to be careful. There were too many cards on the table to accidentally show my hand, and too many unknowns to throw aimlessly. On most days, I yearned for her. And though I thought I was better without her, I’ve come to understand that to be a lie, a coping mechanism of sorts.

In my greatest moments of clarity and strength, I’ve realized that her coming of age cemented the fundamentals of who I am, those same fundamentals that guide me everyday. So in truth, I haven’t fully let her go, and I never will, not without a fight. She remains my guide, an old friend who is always with me, leading the way.

To all those who are beginning their journeys: hold on to the core of who you are.

I suspect that we all have that voice of our younger selves, the voice that guides us when we stumble and seem to lose our way.  We owe it to them to be better. For the children that we were and the children we may one day create, we owe it to them to search for our truths and our dreams beyond what society dictates we ought to be or ought to do. We must chase our dreams, believe in our growth, and trust our process. We must embrace our journey wholeheartedly and speak greatness into our lives.

And despite the doors that may open or remain closed, we must always remember that nothing is simple and everything is possible.

If you’d like to get in touch with Chelsea or her non-profit organization, head over to http://webelieve.nyc or shoot an email to webelieve.nyc@gmail.com. Applications to join are available online.

This is my UNSCRIPTD Journey,

Chelsea Miller

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