There was a certain warmth the cold medal on bare skin brought. Its heaviness is a proud reminder of my achievements; it would shine under fluorescent lights and over the smile of my parents. I did good. A ribbon for every “best” I made. A recognition for every semester I did great. My name used to bounce on hallways following the sun rays. My feet stepping on schools’ grounds, even the ones I don’t belong to. My childhood friends, a reminder that I was acknowledged for everything that I excelled in. But who am I when my neck no longer bears the weight of medals? Who am I when my shirt does not feel the adhesive from ribbons?
I am lost for I am forgotten—not by the people from my hometown nor the people in this big city. I am lost because I forgot myself. I no longer know what it feels like to breathe through my lungs, to find genius in my brain, to love fully with my heart. I am living, but this is not the body I used to live in. I have a soul, but this soul is not the soul who made songs out of faded letters. The only weight I hold on my neck is no longer from medals but the hood of my jacket as I hide away from the world. My name bounces on my room’s walls as it follows my prayers. My feet step on familiar pavements, but not one I belong to. My childhood friends are a reminder that I am not what I excelled in.
Suddenly, I do not chase for praise but for peace. My suitcases are worn and beaten from travels back and forth from my past and future. Not one of them ever checked into the present. I am a walking paradox. A dreamer who worries about reality. A pessimist who searches the screen for optimism. A person who knows of flying colors and the glory of passing but remembers the reflection of a crestfallen face of someone who constantly fails.
“The world does not owe me anything. You grow up alone even when you are surrounded. What you pass or fail does not define you. The wrinkles, the smile lines, the stretch marks—they mark the journey you’ve made, the battles you’ve won and surrendered. In order to live, you need to know how to fail.” This is the wisdom I wish I had grown up with. This is the wisdom I wish I kept on the shelves from when I was young. Not the trophies, the decorated name, the expensive gowns… yes, all of which I enjoyed, but all of which has also taught me to burn faster. And now that I have nothing but the gravity and scar of each failure, I want to thank the body and soul that endured through all of it, despite every day being a warzone of hanging on by a thread (or a rope). Yesterday had been a state of grace. Tomorrow will worry for itself. But today… today, I live.