Friday, April 18, 2014

Ripping Out My Soul and Things of That Nature

As I approach the final weeks of my high school experience, I'm starting to feel bits of my soul aching as I realize what I'll be leaving behind in just six short weeks. There is a lot that I will be losing, but my heart especially weeps for my departure from National English Honor Society.
^^^From Coffeehouse last night.^^^

You see, NEHS has taken a huge chunk of my heart and soul. I fretted over the application. Tears were shed, words were said, and my mind was in turmoil. You see, English has always been one of my very favorite things. I've loved to read for as long as I can remember. I have distinct memories of writing stories in fourth grade and being the first to volunteer to share my writing all throughout elementary school. I remember sixth grade and how for the first nine weeks of the year, I was in Mrs. Highers' English class, and I would walk past Mrs. Shakleford's English class (the class with all of my friends and the extra, added on Englishy stuff) everyday and part of me would just die inside because I thought I would never see the inside of that classroom. To my immense relief and joy, I was switched the second nine weeks, and Mrs. Shakleford's class proved to be everything I'd dreamed of. 

Eventually high school came, and freshman English was great. My teacher, Mr. Murphy, was a bit of an intimidating figure to me, but an intimidation laced with respect and admiration. I loved English. Then came sophomore year and with it, a complete and utter shattering of my self-esteem. Through an unfortunate series of social changes, I was left feeling very lost and confused as to who I was and what I loved. Add to that the fact that I was actually slightly terrified of my sophomore English teacher, and I just about disappeared in 7th period each day. I hardly spoke a word, so sharing something I wrote? Forget about it. I would have rather died.

Enter junior year and Mrs. Finco. I love her so much it hurts. I could write another essay all about why she is absolutely fabulous. I had Mrs. Finco for AP Lang and although my self-esteem was still no where to be found, Mrs. Finco reminded me why I loved English. She showed me all that is beautiful about words and literature. I did well in Finco's class because, well, I loved it. So when January rolled around and with it, NEHS applications, I was torn. Here I was, internally admitting that I was a word nerd, but still trying to pull off the outward too cool for school deal where I didn't really care. But I knew I wanted to apply. So I timidly took an application, something that would involve submitting a writing sample. I knew that I could just turn in an essay, but English is something I'm passionate about and I didn't want to get lost in a sea of essays, so I really wanted to submit poetry. Problem- I didn't write poetry for fun. And if I did, I did not, I repeat, DID NOT, share it with anyone who had a heartbeat.

Now before you go laughing at my terror and shaking your head at how silly this all seems, let me explain something. Writing, especially writing poetry, is an intensely personal thing for me. The only poems I'm really truly proud of, the only stuff worth sharing, is the stuff that feels like I'm ripping out my heart and saying "go ahead and eat me!" So handing in that application with an original poem felt like giving away part of my soul.

To make this loooonnngggg story only slightly shorter, I got in. I had to go to an interview (another terrifying experience- honestly how i got in this club i have no idea. i probably resembled some sort of terrified mouse with no substance), but in the end I made it. And suddenly all of the soul selling was worth it.

Over the summer, I found my confidence and went into senior year full of excitement. I write poetry all the time. I carry around a notebook for jotting down words and phrases at all times. So now here I am. On the final downward slope towards graduation and realizing that this club that has taken so much of me will be gone in a few weeks. It hit me as I was sitting in our most recent meeting two weeks ago as we elected next year's officers. It really sunk in that I won't be there next year. That for me, NEHS is really ending. No more writing lab, no more guided study with all those goofy word nerds, no more projects and book drives to promote literacy. No more coffeehouse. That one really breaks my heart. Coffeehouse is such a beautiful thing. So much pure, raw emotion in such a personal, intimate environment. Everyone makes themselves vulnerable and that is something I really admire, especially because I'm still terrified of doing that myself. English is my passion and NEHS let me embrace that. I've invested a lot of love into this club, and walking away from it in May, knowing that it will continue without me, will take yet another piece of my soul.

How fitting that my ode to NEHS turned into an essay of sorts. NEHS, I gave you my heart, and I will treasure you forever. As Shakespeare's Juliet said, "parting is such sweet sorrow."

Sincerely, mad

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