Year 3 – “I was…, but now I am….”

Jeremy:  I once was the guy who looked towards apathy.  I wanted to feel released from my reality because my reality was scary to me.  I did not want to deal with everything that was negative around me, because I just wanted things to be good.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care, I just didn’t have the strength to comprehend tough things by myself.

This is not who I wanted to be.  I chose a different reality because I thought it was an easier way out, I was wrong.  I don’t do this anymore.  I now am questioning my dismissal of issues and problems that bother me.  I don’t let things go easily now.   I think about them deeply before I either take action or dismiss them.  I am living in this world, and I know I need to give back  and not be apathetic because it is easier for me.  I am now making a difference.  Whether it be through spiritual or physical means, whatever I can do, large or small, as long as I am making a difference I am satisfied.   I will make a difference and will not be apathetic again.  Jer

 

TJ:  I was a kid who didn’t know who he was.  I was stuck in trying to be who I thought others would like.   I just did what I wanted unthinkingly and didn’t consider the impact of my decisions on others.   I didn’t know where I was going with my life.   I found school pointless, like the only reason I was learning this stuff was to have a degree and maybe make money someday.

Now, I am different.  I have found things that interest me and that I feel  passionate about.  I’m (almost) a man.   I try to think about the impact of my decisions on others and myself.   I see the purpose in school  – it’s not just to get a diploma and make money, it’s to better myself as a person, and to find things that I’m passionate about and be able to apply my learning to those things.

After 3 years at The Link School I have a good sense of who I am.   I’ve grown up a lot.  I know what I want to do.  I’m ready for life.

 

Forrest:  I was Forrest Brumm, and I’m still Forrest Brumm, but what that means now is totally different from what it meant when I came to Link.   I didn’t think life had anything to offer.  I never thought about the future because I didn’t think I had one. All I could see was the anger, hatred, and strife in the world. I looked at things only surface deep; I never put much thought into what I did.

People always said that they had high expectations of me, but I didn’t want to go beyond mediocrity. I thought the easy way out was best. I didn’t want to show my full potential; I didn’t think I was worth it. I didn’t want to hold myself accountable. I was lazy. I let all my anger at the world; towards everything I thought was wrong blind me from what I always wanted. Nothing I did led me towards being the person I wanted to be. I was stuck in my old ways without seeing a way out.  I was trapped and I didn’t know how to go forward.

I see now, after all that has happened to me, what life really is, and what’s truly important. No longer am I satisfied with mediocrity or less than what’s my best. No longer do I see only the bad and dwell on it.   I live in the good, and hang on to that.

A lot has happened this year, and I have learned much. I have found out who I want to be, and the morals I will follow. I want to be my best self and let my light shine. I’ve learned that there is more to life than just floating along and seeing what happens. I now know how to lead the life I want to lead, its not easy but I’m moving forward and I know where I want to go.

I used to think I had no future. That life had nothing in store for me. That nothing was worth it. I now look forward to life, and everything it has to offer. I see what it really means to be alive, and now I see that the future has much in store for me, and I look forward to it. I used to think it was okay to settle for less than best, but now “ I will be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness lord” Psalms. I’m going to hold myself to a higher standard and take the higher road and live the greatest life I can.

 

Avery:  When I came to The Link School, I had no idea how I was going to change, or if I even would change. A year ago, I would have laughed if someone told me I would be kayaking white water, or hiking through Turkey. I was a normal high school student who had no idea where I was going or what I was capable of. All I knew, is that I wanted change but I never knew how to bring change into my life because I was so accustomed to the same routine.

I was always able to see who I wanted to be, but I never cared enough to be that person. I knew I had the potential to be someone, but I never worked towards it. Throughout my struggle to find myself, I was never surrounded by the support I needed, making it incredibly difficult to find who I wanted to be. Always getting sucked, deeper and deeper, into what felt like a black hole of the “high school label”.

Shortly before I put my foot down and decided it was time to change my life, I came to the realization that I didn’t love myself, or the people around me. I didn’t have respect for myself or others. Being lost, wandering, searching for myself was the biggest internal struggle I’ve ever had. It’s a scary thing to live life, not knowing yourself. I was tired of dealing with that. When I heard about Link, I knew it would be one of the hardest things I will ever experience, but immediately, I knew it was the right place for me.

This past year at The Link School, I have been able to grow in ways that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else. I’ve had the amazing opportunity of living with my peers who are constantly holding me accountable to my actions, and constantly supporting me to help me to be the best person I can be. I have done more in the past nine months, than I have ever done in my life. I had no idea the things I was capable of until I came to Link.

The quote I’ve been working with this year, to help me respect and care for the community is, “Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those you despitefully use you and prosecute you” – Matthew. This quote has spoken to me so much in terms of being good to others and how to deal with certain situations and relationships. In order to love and respect myself, I have to love and respect others. Thinking back on all the experiences I’ve had this year, I have allowed myself to change my way of thinking, and change my outlook on life. I’ve learned to not give up on myself and what is important to me.

The most important thing I will be able to take from this year is, my feeling of confidence in my ability to be able to decide what I want to be a part of me in defining who I am, and my experiences in life. I now know how to be an active listener and thinker, instead of a careless one. I have found, in multiple occasions, that life is full of spontaneity, and I have no idea where I am going to be next, but instead of dreading it, I am now so excited to find out. I was, but now I am the person I have struggled so hard to be.

 

Cézy:  I used to be the person that didn’t know how to portray herself. I was too timid to be outgoing and show my true self, but now I’m courageous to express myself fully. New people and their individuality strike an interest in me and I’m curious to learn all about them. I used to love life and I still do. Before I came to Link I just dealt with whatever came my way and moved on but now I live and appreciate the adventures thrown my way. I am now excited to explore and learn whatever sparks interest to me. I used to be ignorant of others and my impact on them. Now I am aware that for a strong relationship, I need to be thoughtful, generous, and contribute love constantly.

 

Ryan:  I was held to the limitations I placed on myself through mortal eyes. I could see only what my body was telling me. I could feel only that which I could comprehend through material means.

I am sometimes surprised to see the guidance spirituality has had in my life even when I wasn’t turning to it. In the past three years, at Link, I have discovered this spiritual sense in life. It is the most useful thing I could imagine, and the best comforter to lean on.

I have been put in situations in the past three years where I have really needed to rely on spirituality. I am so grateful for this useful tool I have made mine that I will always be able to turn to in times of need.

 

Taylor:  I was small. Petite in the sense that I felt I could never make a difference in the vastness of the world. It was much more appealing to escape instead. I was little because my dreams never matched up to anything tangible. They were just dreams, so what? I kept my ideas over protectively nestled safely in my head instead of letting them fly. I was small because I felt like I was up against so much bigness, like I’d been given some impossible task. I guarded my feelings close to me because I’d learned that sometimes when I let them out I never got them back. Perhaps the worst thing about me was that I had those feet that would only run if they were running away from something. Now I’m different because now I run headfirst into things that scare me. On my particularly crazy days I lace up my shoes and sprint down our driveway. As I descend from out lodge I am fully aware the entire time that eventually I’m going to have to run back up it. The thought of running up our steep mountain driveway can be summed up in one word: daunting. That word also fits with how life can feel occasionally. Every time I run up our road I’m reminded of how I used to be. The thing about the road up our mountain is that it’s so tempting to stop. Just stop, and I know the tightness encompassing my body will be released. That’s how life is; I can choose to “stop” by finding various means of escape. It can seem freeing for a little while, just as if I quit running up the hill my lungs would be able to breath again and my stomach would loosen, but once that faded I would still have to make it up the hill. I know now that if I stop because it’s easier that way, I won’t be getting anywhere. I’d only be standing in place. This is why I choose to tackle that hill. I run, as Mount Princeton watches over me, banishing the negativity that wants desperately to weigh my feet down.

I’ve realized that there is no such thing as a bad day. With each stride I run the strength, the love, the energy, and the joy I keep inside. I’ve realized now that the big, daunting things I feel are placed in front of me would be impossible for me surmount alone. This is why I have faith. Towards the end of the road I increase my pace, and as my last strides reach the top I surrender myself to a feeling of big accomplishment. During my brightest moments triumph is so palpable, and I am happy with the way I see my newfound love for myself reflecting in my love for others. There is nothing small about the changes I’m trying to make, even if I take baby or backward steps sometimes. My dreams are big enough to let fly now.

 

Daniel:  I was once unable to speak my mind. Unsure of how to express myself, and when I did if I did it well enough that people could understand my opinions, or feelings. I would struggle with making small decisions and standing behind them. I was unable to develop a good opinion because I was always falling into someone else’s.

Now, I have a voice of confidence. I am now willing to explore and filter opinions to find my own. I have now identified myself and am willing to show it to my friends. I am not afraid to let others understand me and to let them know what I feel and who I am. I am now a Christian Scientist. I am now free of anything that tries to force itself upon me. I am now Daniel Stuart Pyle.

 

Devon:  Before, I was existing. Now I am living. I wanted to be totally independent with no help from anyone else, but my life had no direction. And as I sit here on this sandy beach, smack in the middle of our final expedition, I can see how much we all have grown; I can see how much I have grown.

I don’t give up on things anymore. I’m a fighter and I won’t back down. When I care about something, I won’t give it up for the world, no matter what anyone else has to say. I’ve discovered it’s all mental and I get to choose what I let affect me. I still have my challenging days, my ups and downs. Now I know I have the power to change anything.

I’ve learned to stick with things through and through. I may have hated biking when I arrived in Colorado and have never mountain biked through actual mountains, but now I have a secret passion for it. You see, I like the idea of it; it moves me to strive to actually like the procedure of doing it. Since the beginning of the year I’ve biked at least 100 miles, pushing myself every pedal of the way.

I’ve felt myself growing hungrier and hungrier as the year progressed, not just physically, but mentally as well. I have this drive to know how and why everything works, how I can tweak it and use it, a drive to expand my repertoire of knowledge, or my garden.

My biggest epiphany yet is that each person should have a garden, a Zen garden.  This garden could be mental or physical, but it’s important to have ideas that can grow and be nurtured in this garden. It needs to be a calm, peaceful, tranquil place where one can go to find his center when s/he needs it. It should be a garden open for gratitude and prayer. The best part about gardens is that once the seeds are planted, the plants can grow. From there the plants grow new seeds which can then be passed along to new places, new people. Gardens aren’t competitive, but gracious and willing to share.

In my garden I’ve discovered a spiritual drive that’s been planted. It’s not a drive to pick up a textbook, or learn quotes, but to be at peace with everything surrounding me and to feel that unconditional love and compassion flowing through and around me, a peace that reaches out and touches others as well. There are so many facets for this spirituality. I find it in everything I do these days.

We are who we are. Nothing outside of ourselves can change us, however, we can change ourselves through our experiences and insights. It is up to the individual to choose what s/he lets fester in her garden, what s/he weeds out, and what is supported in growth.

 

Jenna:  I was someone who thought they would never be able to succeed in school. Letting myself fail was all I could think about.   Whenever I thought about it, the real me started fading away. This also started happening with friends as well. Letting myself fail on not being able to get along with the other kids, and a lot of the time getting the feeling that I did not belong in the group. That was another fail on my part. The reason why this was happening was because I was letting myself think like this, and not thinking more deeply, more spiritually.

But now I’m a different person and ready to make my journey with God and be shown me what’s right. What I mentioned at the top was the old me, the me that was not trying hard enough. But now I have learned that I express freedom and intelligence from God. This thought was plenty for me to realize that I could think and act rightly, whether it was doing schoolwork or hanging out with friends. I became more willing to work hard with what ever was bothering me the first time. There is just one little thing I needed to change and it was my thinking.

 

George:  I didn’t care, but now I care. My life meant nothing, but now it means something. “I once was lost, but now I am found”. That line from Amazing Grace has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot throughout these last few weeks of looking back on the year. It has never meant much to me but now it does, it has made me realize that the man who wrote that song had to change his life just as I have had to do this year and that Link has helped me to do that. This year I have truly found a sense of who I am and who I want to be in the future. Before I was often cold, unloving and selfish, and I know I can still be these things sometimes, but now if someone asked me to tell them who I am for the first time in my life I could tell them.

I remember when I was thinking of applying to Link, reading Year 2’s “I Was but Now I Am” pieces and thinking, wow, I wish I could go to a school where I could look back on the year, and see just how much I’ve changed as a person and how much others change around me. All my previous schools saw me as a hopeless case and not worth the hassel of trying to keep me focused in class, and just saw my life as a battle already lost. However I didn’t see that and neither did my family, we all knew I just hadn’t found the right place for me. Last year I found that place it was Link and now I can finally say, “I once was lost, but now I am found”.

 

Bobby:

I was but now I am

the perfect 6 word story.

I was but now I am

off with the old, limited self and on with true identity.

I was but now I am

sculpting, chiseling, visioning a more perfect being.

I was but now I am

not me as some self created being.

No, not that.

Identity, individuality,

as the expression of the One

I Am.