do not quit

2015 is coming to an end.

With that in mind I opened up a letter today that I wrote myself in August when I first arrived in Miami, to City Year, to my school.

This letter had a powerful intention. Since the middle of the school year is the end of the already burnt candle, it is a time when some people do not return to Miami.

To City Year.

To their school.

To their kids.

I wasn’t going to open this letter today. I had been having a good day, why not wait for one of those really horrible days for a pep talk from yourself? But it was the very last day before a well needed two-week break, so I thought why not.

In the middle of the last period of my day I sat on a stool, leaning against the door of my classroom that contained 20 of my loud, rambunctious students eager to bust out of this room and begin their break, and read this letter to myself.

In that moment as I read the words from this letter I had forgotten I wrote so many months ago, 20 steel wires made of gold anchored me to this arduous classroom for the duration of the year.

I don’t quit. I don’t like it, I never will. But life is hard and even the most benevolent intentions can become cloudy and confusing when you get into the thick of whatever it is you are doing. It is so incredibly easy to lose track of why you started in the first place.

But 2015 is coming to an end, and there is no better time than now to reflect on our year to see if where we are is really where we are supposed to be, where we want to be. If you don’t have 20 steel wires made of gold anchoring you down to where you are, maybe it is time for a change.

Honesty is always the best policy.


 

Dear Kels,

If you are opening this, it probably means you are struggling. I hope your year has been everything you have imagined so far. I hope you have been challenged in all the ways you wanted. I’m here to tell you that even if you feel like giving up, don’t. You are not a quitter and that has has never been the case. You have been through so so much and despite what is going on, you are here for a reason. You up and left your friends, family, and life to follow your dreams and here you are. You can’t turn back now because you have come so far and you can do anything.

Remember your mindset.

You can choose  to be happy.

Find happiness in the simple things like you have always done when things get rough. Call your friends, go for a run, make something tasty.

But above all, remember why you started.

You wanted to change the world in some small way. You wanted to help. Make a difference.

This school and these kids need you. You are strong. You are one of the strongest people. Others look up to you and seek your strength during hard times. If others look to you when things get difficult that speaks volumes of your true capabilities and power. We don’t get to choose where we are born but you are here to give to something bigger than yourself.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Maintain your growth mindset and welcome new challenges into your life as opportunities to grow your mind and your skills. Good or bad, this experience is here to to test you to your core. But I know you got this because you do not give up. You don’t give up on people, ever. Dave would not want you to give up. He is so proud of your accomplishments and the wonderful woman you have become. Everyone is proud of you. But above all, do it for him. Keep going to give these kids and others an opportunity to live, and truly live. Open their eyes to a new life.

Remember, it is a curse and a blessing to feel everything so deeply. You are an optimist- so see the blessing part this year.

I hope at this point you have accomplished all that you have hoped to. If not, take a look at your goals. By the end of the year I hope you look more mature and ready to take on the world. I hope you have learned to let go of your need to control and have faith that everything will work out (and it will! It always does!). SIDE NOTE: One area I hope you have grown in is your ability to stay true to yourself. Don’t feel like you need to change yourself for the approval of others. Just be you, and do so relentlessly. The people who are supposed to be in your life will come. Be patient with yourself and others. Remember that not everyone is as tuned in as you are. People are still growing and are all at different points in their journeys. Be someone who helps them grow.

You can do this.

You started because this is important to you. Your actions do make a difference.

Go get em tiger!

xoxo

-Kels

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My heart is full

Reflections from the night before graduation.

My heart is full. It is full with a thousand and more memories, ideas, people, places, stories, and emotions I have grown to learn and love over four years of insight.

I have struggled.

I have triumphed.

I have been challenged, in all ways a human can be challenged.

I have loved.

I have lost.

I have had my heart shatter.

And I have had it put back together with the soft hands of the lights of my life

                 I have grown.

                 I have become the version of myself I have looked up to in others.

                 I have become what I have chased unknowingly and blindly over a span of time.

My heart is full but my mind has plenty of room for more. It has been stretched and bent and it is worn in some spots where I tend to think too much, but it is ready for a new place. New ideas. New people and new things to explore.

It is as if I am bursting at the seams. Words and thoughts and love and emotion are flowing through my body like a river. There must be somewhere I can channel this energy. It needs a space. It needs a mold to fill, to crack. It is yearning to be put to work in a place that needs it the most.

There’s one more thing though. One emotion whose lines I can define among the tangled mess of the rest. There is a slight feeling of sadness. It feels similar to pricking your fingertip on a needle. Very small, but just slightly noticeable. It hurts to leave behind the shell that has housed all the warm and beautiful memories.

If there is one small idea I want to leave with all of the hearts that I have touched and have touched mine, it is love fully, be present, and be you. There is no greater pleasure in doing these three things. In doing so, one evades regrets and allows others to see the raw and real. There are no second chances in this life we grow to know and love.

So be here, be here now.

Be you, and do so relentlessly.

Let the love of others wash over you and heal you in the times of hurt. Accept this love not out of obligation but willingly. Accept this love because you are deserving of it. Don’t wait for special occasions or beginning or ends to give love to others who are just as deserving as you are.

But most importantly, be fearless. Be courageous in your words and your actions because you are strong and you can create waves in a pond that has been stagnant for far too long.

You are ready.

Begin.