Life is a journey. It’s always moving, always changing. We can’t rely on consistencies but have to learn how to go with the flow.
I learned this when I was dropped off for my first day of college in 2012.
After weeks of preparation, I still wasn’t ready to move on. I wanted my world to stay the same. But it was time to gain new experiences and part from the life I had grown to be so comfortable with.
It took me a while but eventually, I closed the previous chapter of my life and opened a new one at college.
This blog has been a journey; one that has enriched my journey and helped me grow.
Unfortunately, however, this journey has come to an end. I’m off to summer camp to grow as a counselor and leader, meaning I have to put my writing on hold.
Thank you to my readers for being invested in this blog. Thank you for reading what I have to say. And thank you for allowing me to share my memories. I hope, if anything, this blog has encouraged you to take a break from the craziness of life to reflect on the memories that shaped who you are.
As a child growing up in New England, one of my favorite hobbies during the winter was sledding. Over the first 10 years of my life, my family, friends and I had come to scope out the best sledding hills in our town, along with learn which sleds worked best for different purposes: saucers, for example were best for a spin while tubes were the best for speed and Snow Boogies got the best air. Sledding became more of a sport than an activity: it was all about pushing the envelope and being the best you could be; which is why, in the winter of 2001, I went for that extra run that ultimately lead to my downfall.
We were at the Hopkinton State park with our best friends the Girardi’s and some of their friends. Maddie Girardi and I, the youngest at the hill at the time, had come to master the first half of the hill and were satisfied with our runs for the day. That is until the older kids began to continue to climb up the hill and go off the second part of the hill, gaining twice the distance and speed. Now I didn’t think I was ready for this intensity but after Maddie decided she wanted to try, I realized I couldn’t be the only one to not try the big hill; I had to swallow my fear and do this. My mom told me she would prefer I not go down this hill. But because she didn’t want to make a scene, she let me make the final decision.
“Just don’t go too fast,” she said.
I grabbed an inner tube (the sled I felt most comfortable in) and braced myself for the climb to the top of the hill. After this run we were leaving so I had to make it a good one; it was the only chance I had. When I got to the top, I was already out of breath but I couldn’t show my weakness to everybody else. So I took a deep breath, looked down the steep hill one final time (noticing it looked a lot steeper from up top) and put my tube on the ground behind me. I plopped down into the tube and with a small push off the snow with my feet, I was off.
Now, what I neglected to mention is that at the bottom of the State Park hill was a ditch. They have since covered up the ditch for glaringly obvious reasons but at the time, it was very present and filled with rocks.
The first half of the ride wasn’t too fast. I felt pretty comfortable, thinking I could handle the rest of the ride. Once I jumped off the first hill onto the second, however, I realized how mistaken I was. My speed must have doubled and I found myself going faster than I ever had in the past. Upon getting to the bottom of the hill, I started to worry because I wasn’t slowing down like I usually did. I heard everybody yelling something at me but the wind rushing past my ears was too loud so I chose to neglect whatever they were saying.
Before I knew it, my sled flew out from under me and I found myself tumbling into the treacherous ditch. I don’t remember what was going through my head; all I remember is that it hurt. A LOT.
I managed to get myself up on my feet and looked up at everybody at the top of the hill, tears streaming down my face. My mom ran down the hill to help me get out as my dad yelled at my sister for laughing at the whole situation. Looking back, I don’t blame her.
The verdict was in: I had cracked my head open. While a few stitches, scratches and bruises were all I left with, my mom didn’t want me going down a hill that steep again. And I didn’t blame her.
Next time somebody tells me not to go too fast, I’ll be sure to listen.
We all have a quote from our childhood that always sticks with us. Specifically in children’s books and poems, there is a stand out quote from most major pieces of work. I loved Shel Siverstein. The poem “Listen to the Mustn’ts” from Where the Sidewalk Ends was my personal favorite. I loved his poetry because while it was catchy and especially appealing to the ear, it always had a message. A simple message but a significant one. This poem taught me that nothing is impossible. And I still carry that message with me today.
If you haven’t read this poem, look at it’s simplicity then think about what it’s saying. And be inspired.
Now think of your favorite quote or line from a piece of literature when you were a child. How can it apply to your life today? I think doing this will help you to realize how simple life can be.
I was creative. My sister and I didn’t rely on electronics, or toys for that matter, to have fun. We played hide and seek. We climbed the tree in our backyard. When my dad finally trusted us with his video camera, we filmed movies with our Playmobil figures.
This was my childhood.
I laughed a lot. One person that made me laugh in particular was my Uncle Doug. Whenever he visited, he brought with him a new story that always had me in stitches. Or a new joke that I would tell to my classmates the next day. I grew up with a family that wasn’t afraid to be goofy. A family that never wanted to take life so seriously.
This was my childhood.
I had a lot of friends. Every Saturday after soccer practice, I would go to Tess’s house since she lived right next to the field. On weekdays, I would go to Hannah’s house and bounce on her trampoline: my mom even let me sleep over her house on school nights a few times. Every Friday night, Maddie, Emily and I would have a sleepover. Whether it was watch “Madeline” for the hundredth time or play Crazybones in Maddie’s basement, we always had something to do.
This was my childhood.
My mom had cancer. Breast cancer. I was in middle school, unsure of how to handle these emotions. Up until that point, life for me had been carefree. Now I had this dark cloud over my head every day: would I lose my mom? That’s when I met God. He knew I wasn’t going to lose my mom and when I prayed for her to get better, He answered that prayer. My mom has been in remission for seven years.
Every child dreams of the day of getting their first dog. Well, for some it may be a cat, but for me, it was a dog. My family had talked about it for a while. We almost bought a Yorkshire Terrier but decided it wasn’t the right time. A few months later, we looked at buying a Corgi but my mom didn’t want a dog that would shed. So we dropped the issue for a while. But a spur of the moment trip to the Puppy Patch changed all that.
Opening the front door after my friend Hannah dropped me off, I ran through the house looking for my parents. “Mom, Dad! I found the perfect dog!” My words were met by initial eye rolls. But once I managed to get them and my sister to the Puppy Patch that weekend, we knew. This was our dog.
After entering the room with the overwhelming scent of dog, we turned to the left and went to the crate that held the litter of Bichon Frise puppies: two months old. When you stuck your hand in the crate, all the puppies would eagerly wag their tails, fighting to lick your hand. But upon all this excitement, I looked over and saw one dog, slightly smaller than the others, standing timid in the corner.
I asked to pick him up and once I did, I felt an instant connection. He immediately started to wag his tail and become more comfortable around me. And upon meeting my family, he showed this love to all of us. We couldn’t resist.
My parents decision to buy this puppy came from left field; but my sister and I weren’t complaining. When my dad was talking to the owner of the Puppy Patch about bringing this puppy home with us, my mom turned to my sister and I.
“What should we name him?” she asked.
“Snowball,” I immediately replied, thinking the white of his hair coat strongly represented the white of snow. Apparently this name was too obvious, however and it was met by the shaking heads. While thinking of a new name, I looked up at the store’s sign and saw the light bulb go off in my head.
7:00AM Western Time – Los Angeles, California. You’re 18. Your alarm wakes you up to start the day. You get out of bed and close your shades to ensure that nobody peers in your room while you’re getting ready. You can’t go outside without a hat and a pair of sunglasses, so after you grab those items, you prepare yourself for the walk to your car.
You can hear the clicking of the cameras in the bushes but you keep walking. You quickly crawl into your car and shut the door, hoping that there will be no reporters hiding in your trunk today. It has become second nature to lock your doors. There’s a black Sedan clearly following you on your drive to work. You just want to be left alone.
But you suck it up. This is the price you pay for being famous.
Could you handle this lifestyle? I know I couldn’t. Yet as children, fame is all that many kids want. Growing up, we watched actors and actresses grace our screens with the assumption that they had it made. We thought that life looked so easy for them; why can’t it be that way for us?
What the media hid from us as children, however, is the reality of fame. Just like any other job, acting, music, athletics, or anything else in the public eye, comes with stress; now imagining experiencing all the stress of your job while also being constantly watched by the public eye. If you mess up, the whole world will know. And in many cases, that stress leads people to mess up even more.
From Michael Jackson to Britney Spears, we’ve seen celebrities let fame get the best of them. And when explained, it’s very clear why. A contributor to this article explains reality of fame in a multitude of understandable ways:”lonely; not secure; you have a bubble over you; family space is violated; a sense of being watched; living in a fishbowl; like a locked room; and, familiarity that breeds inappropriate closeness.” How glamorous does fame seem now?
Now imagine having to deal with “living in a fishbowl” before you’re old enough to make your own decisions; before you know what fame fully entails, you have to experience it full force. This is what child stars have to deal with and it’s likely the reason why we see so many of them fall.
The article linked above talks about the psychology behind growing up famous and besides the standard obstacles that celebrities deal with, there are multiple other problems that child stars must overcome.
They’re growing up on screen. I’ll use Lindsay Lohan as an example. She began acting before she turned 13. She started her career before she started puberty and from that moment on, the whole world was watching her grow up. Every excruciating painful memory we have of adolescence is what stars like Lohan had to experience in front of the whole world.
So yes, Lindsay Lohan has made mistakes and still isn’t perfect. But can you blame her? In many instances, she is just being a normal young woman growing up and finding herself in this world. Just recently, she was scrutinized for supposedly editing a photo of herself. Would a 20-something year old of little or no fame get so intensely criticized for such a seemingly insignificant act? Probably not. But because she’s under the public eye, any little thing she has done or will continue to do will be meticulously dissected. We all make mistakes; yet it’s believed that just because celebrities are perfect on screen means they have to be perfect in real life. And that unrealistic expectation can seriously damage somebody.
While there are celebrities that have been able to rise above the doom of fame, they have to make an immense effort just to stay normal. Think about it: the child stars who have maintained a positive reputation are being praised for doing what the rest of us normal folk do every day: maintain a sense of normalcy.
The pressure of being famous is clearly extremely difficult to handle and in many cases, is an unrealistic expectation. In some cases, for example Matthew Perry, talks about how acting is what’s kept him healthy. Although it was likely the pressures of fame that led to his notorious drug problems, he has learned how to deal with fame and his acting career is now what keeps him healthy.
It’s okay to strive to be famous. There are a lot of positive aspects of fame. And it’s possible to maintain happiness as a celebrity. But it’s difficult. There are a lot of negative aspects of fame. Fame comes at a cost.