How Very Far I've Come

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It really hit me this past week that 1. I'm sixteen years old, and 2. I'm a junior in high-school, which means that 3. I'll be graduating next year.

Just let that sink in a little bit...

I'm. Graduating.

Next. Year.

When you start your first, official year of high-school, four years seems like such a long time to wait. When you look at those four years ahead of you, they could just as easily be an eternity.

But then you just keep plodding along, day after day, week after week, and suddenly you look up and realize- What the heck!? I've only got one year left!!!- and that's what I did this week. I looked up and realized how very close I am to the end. I'm closing in on the last lap of the race.

When I start looking forward at how quickly my childhood is coming to an end, I inevitably begin to look back at the person I used to be. When I look back, I realize just how much I have changed. I realize that the person I am now is completely different from the person I was even just a year ago.

Looking at old pictures of myself makes it particularly obvious just how much I have changed.

The picture above is from 2009, when I was just ten years old. It's hard to believe that little girl was ever me. So adorable, so sweet. This was the year she got her first taste of how difficult life could be, but she still has so much laughter inside of her. A laughter I work hard to hold onto.

Here I am at my 11th birthday. This little girl has never had to relearn how to smile for a camera. She still hasn't realized that not everyone thinks the way she does. It's never occurred to her to care what other people think about her.

This picture shows a twelve year-old girl who has started to see beyond the bubble of herself. And once she did, there was no turning back. If only I could show her a little of what I have learned. If only I could remind her that- no matter what she thinks- she's not broken. If only I could show her that it's alright to not get it.

Thank you to Jennifer DiFranco for taking this beautiful picture of me! Visit her website HERE.

This one was taken in the fall of 2012. Approximately six months later, I would experience the first symptoms of an illness I am still living with

The thirteen year-old in this photo knows nothing of the struggles she is about to face, but she does know what it means to struggle. She has seen loss, and suffered heartache. She has felt grief and guilt, and didn't really know how to deal with either of them.

Physically, she is strong in ways that I no longer am. And yet, because of what I've been through, and because of the very things that have made me "weak", I have a strength that little girl does not yet know.

This is one of the few, good pictures taken of me while I was 14, because the year it was taken- 2013- is the year everything changed. First, we thought it was a stomach bug. But then it never went away. That 14 year-old girl got weaker, lost weight, and felt as if everything she'd held so dear was being taken away from her. The answers she got only seemed to lead to more questions.

2014 was a difficult year, too. The fifteen year-old girl in this picture is leaning on a shopping cart because she couldn't walk through the store on her own. The fact that she is still smiling absolutely amazes me.

But this fifteen year-old also learned so much. She learned how to live with a new normal. She discovered she loved photography. She re-found her passion for writing. She started learning how to smile for the camera again.

And this is me... With all of my strengths and weaknesses, because of everything I've lived through and all things I've learned... 

This is who I am.

I can say with absolute honesty that I am grateful for all of the things I've been through if only because they've made me the person I am now. I know it's cheesy and cliche, but I wouldn't say it if it weren't true.

I love who I have become. I love my weirdness and my nerdy tendencies. I love that I have come to accept my differences as assets instead of becoming frustrated with myself for being "broken."

Am I perfect? No. Are there still things about myself that I don't like? Yes.

But you know what?

I think I'm finally OK with that...


What makes you most nostalgic? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below, over at my Facebook page, or email me at anastasiarosewrites[@]gmail[.]com!


101 Things: Counting Down

I've been continuing work on my paper cranes, as usual, but I also checked off "Get a facial" (#90), and wrote a letter to 26 year-old me (#75).

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  1. I am amazed at your writing! Completely and wonderfully beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I am 40 and I can relate to looking at pictures of my younger self and thinking that she has no idea what's to come. Sometimes I feel sad about it, but mostly, I feel grateful for what she has gone through and how much that she has much she has much her faith has deepened because of every struggle. Keep pressing on dear one. You are strong and courageous and an incredibly writer!


    1. Thank you for that sweet comment! It really made my day! It wasn't until the past few months that I was able to look back and not (as funny as it sounds) become jealous of myself and the things I was able to do several years ago that I no longer can. But now, at least most days, I look back and smile at the memories and remember how thankful I am for who I've become.

      Anastasia Rose

  2. You are wise beyond your years, dear girl! Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are beautiful!

    1. Thank you! That really means a lot to me.

      Anastasia Rose

  3. Each person has such a unique story. Over time, love, loss & suffering come to us all, but they come much sooner to others. You are one of the "others." I am glad you are able to look back and smile. I am even more glad you are able to smile now, even when it's an act of discipline. You are doing great, Ana! 2 Timothy 4:1-5