Nikita Wozniak ‘20, Circulation Manager
You did it.
It has been one hell of a ride these past (almost) eighteen years now. We are graduating soon, in the most unexpected way possible. I know I always kind of had the feeling that 2020 was going to be a weird year, but I do not recall ever considering a global pandemic or online schooling. Either way, I know this is not how we imagined our senior year. I know there were times where you did not even think this far, or want to, for that matter. But we are here now, and I cannot even begin to explain how proud I am of you.
We went through a lot, good and bad. I know how hard it is to remember the good sometimes. It feels so easy, to shut everyone and everything out and close in on yourself. At times that was all we could do, to prevent others and ourselves from getting hurt. Sometimes even that was not enough.
I know how many times we felt alone, too many to count at this point in life. I wish you could have seen what I see now. I wish you could have felt the hope and desire to keep moving forward that fills almost every inch of my being now. I wish you had the confidence and willpower to stand up and fight for everything you believed in.
I know sitting here, wishing I could have been there for you is not going to fix anything. I know what happened in the past cannot be changed, and that there is nothing I can do now but move forward with what we have learned. Still, I cannot help but wish for some sort of way to change the way we handled things. There were too many times where we shut ourselves down, or retaliated with anger and bitterness when we should have taken certain events with a grain of salt. I sometimes think if we had reached out to the right people sooner, instead of trying to find validation from people who could not care less about us, we would have turned out differently.
I know that what you wanted most was to feel safe. Like you belonged somewhere. I know about all of the times where we could not see a clear path ahead, only a uncertain and foggy road that seemed to lead to nowhere. I know about all of the times where we looked into our future, only to see a solid brick wall that had no intention of breaking. I know about all of the times we thought that everything was meaningless, and that we would be better off giving up. I am so very glad you did not.
I am sorry for all of the times where you felt alone. The nights where you could not sleep with all of the thoughts swarming through your head. The days where you felt like you could not breathe, or even bother getting out of bed in the morning. The afternoons where you ate dinner alone in your room, because if you ate in front of anyone else, you would be too nauseous to finish your meal.
I am sorry for the times you tried to reach out to someone, only for harsh rejection to shove you back into your shell. I am sorry for the gut-wrenching feeling of worthlessness you always felt, no matter how many times you told yourself they did not mean it. I am sorry for the anger and desperation in your actions, the clinginess to those who did not deserve it, and the demons in your mind making you feel that self-destruction was the only way to get them to leave.
I am sorry for those days, when we were really young, from when we were four to when we were seven, when you begged to God that you would not wake in the morning because of what was happening to you. I am sorry that our parents were too young to realize how much responsibility they were putting on you, that later made you fear incompletion and dissatisfaction. I am sorry that our brother’s life was cut short, and you felt like you had to bear the burden of feeling like you did not do enough to protect him. It was never your job to hold that much responsibility over your family’s well being. I wish we had realized that sooner.
I am sorry for all of the time and energy you wasted on fake friends and greedy family members. I am sorry for you feeling like you could never stand up for yourself, because if you did, you would get hurt. I am sorry you had to figure yourself out all on your own, because there was nobody to go to that would ever want to listen.
There are many apologizes here, but I do not think I would change anything. I could not be anymore proud of you and how far we have come. We have grown so much, much more than I believe we had ever hoped for. I have been proud before, but I truly feel I am the most proud of us.
I am proud that you realized your worth, and stopped letting people walk over and use you. I am proud that you stood up and fought that one day, letting your anger drown out every ounce of fear you once had. I am proud you pushed back, and made your presence known, instead of shying away and let them overtake you. I am proud you realized your worth and stand up for what you believe in.
There is so much more I am proud of and so much more to say. But no matter everything else, the most important thing I will always thank you for, is holding onto that one strand of hope, and continuing our life when the only thing you wanted to do was end it.
I know that if I were to go back in time and tell you that we are where we are today, that you would laugh in my face. Back then I remember thinking that. Every time someone talked about their future, or their plans for their eighteenth birthday, I would roll my eyes and think, “As if I would even live that long.”
And here I am. Here we are. Almost eighteen, graduating high school, accepted into a good college, and all with a hopeful desire to keep moving forward. And I think it is safe to say that I am so very grateful for that. More than anything.
There are going to be bad days, that much is obvious, but we know how to keep our head up high now. We know there is something out there, and we are not going to stop until we achieve it. We made it through our past, we are making through it right now, and we will make it throughout the years to come. The road ahead is not always clear, and there will be times where maybe we do not know what to do. But we have better people in our lives. We have a better mindset, with better values, and a better outlook on our life and what is to come our way.
Whatever life throws at us, we know that we have ourself. Even if that is all we have at times, that is enough. We are enough.
There is a lot more to cover, but not enough time or space in the world to get it all out. So I will end this letter here. Just know that we are here, we are alive, and we will make it.
We already have.
You did it.
Photo courtesy of emilygohyien.com