This week, I was sifting through a box of cards I saved from my senior-year of high school. I am an immensely sentimental person who borderline hoards mementos – it was a big box. So many of the cards I got from my friends throughout senior-year said the same sort of thing- “I love you, I’m sorry you’re having a hard time, I’m here for you.” Over and over. Now, I have very little self-perception. I don’t really understand how other people view me- I’ve been obsessed with the “what was your first impression of me?” question forever. I didn’t realize how many people realized I was struggling my last year until reading those cards. It makes sense looking back, I guess. I had penetrating, all-consuming anxiety. I never felt anxiety like I did senior year- I had panic attacks in first period yoga, would cry in my car after speech team rehearsals, hyperventilated when the cast list came out for the fall play, etc.
I sometimes resent thinking about my senior year of high school – it didn’t turn out at all how I wanted it to (and expectation is a powerful force) but I try to let the experience be what it is. I try to let my anxiety be what it is. Because when I think about it, the same parts of my brain that give me what feels like too many thoughts at once in my worst moments also allow me to be creative and overflowing with ideas in my best moments. My brain is busy and nonlinear. I have a hard time telling people how I feel in a way that I feel truly communicates what I want to tell them. So I write poetry. I started senior year – I’ve now filled two journals, and just started my third. I use poetry to collect my thoughts – it’s freeform and it’s messy and it helps my busy brain articulate itself. And sharing my poetry with others and hearing their thoughts allows for creative conversation and connection.
Everyone needs an outlet, and everyone needs a way to amplify and uplift the voice they speak through with their outlet of choice. I’m trying to replace the regret I have about my senior-year self with compassion. I was struggling and I needed someone to listen, but the only way I could talk was through poetry. I love This Girl’s Story because it’s something my senior-year self desperately needed. Being able to be surrounded by creative girls who are all absolute powerhouses in their own right (even if they don’t think so) is incredibly rewarding. Creating a place for girls to be loud and messy and creative and to spill out everything bottled up all over the pages is a sentimental experience for me because it makes me feel like I am doing something for my younger self. It makes me feel like I can reach out and clutch the comfort and power in each contribution to the magazine. And I want to save that feeling in my memento box forever.
This Girls Story Editor
Where to find me!
Follow me on Instagram! – @riley.tomes
Read my poetry! – @cherrycolacosmos (also on Instagram!)
I’m also experimenting with YouTube! – My channel is rileytomes