Year 4 – “I was…, but now I am….”

ALEX

AlexMy time at Link has made a huge difference in my life. Since I have been at Link I have been able strike a balance between friends and academics. Before I came here my grades started going down and my social life went up. This started happening towards the end of 7th grade year and continued all the way through my freshmen year. When I got to Link I was still focused on friends more then school, but as the school year went on I have put my academics back on track. I have also learned that I really enjoy reading books. I used to hate reading because I thought it was really boring, but I have loved reading all the books from this year. I have also improved in math. I understand a lot more of the material than I did in my old school. I also stopped playing sports and started going out with my friends after school all the time. I think learning the skill to balance school and friends really helped me a lot this year.

This year I have also been able to learn how to do different outdoors activities. Even though I was born into a family that does many similar activities to the Link School, I learned how to mountain bike, climb, and play polocrosse. Some of the things I have learned about the outdoors are how to navigate and how to lead a group, and it is hard work. It takes quite a bit of confidence to lead a trip and to take care of the group. I’m really grateful for this school and having the opportunity to come here.

 

ANNE

Anne“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” –Tony Robbins

My past year at Link has changed my thought process immensely. I’ve gone from a selfish, negative thinker, to a selfless, positive thinker. I am entirely grateful for this change in thought.

I used to act without thinking, not caring at all about the outcomes of my decisions. I used to live my life by the motto “do what you want, when you want.” That alone should show how much I thought through my choices. I had the state of mind that ultimately no one else but me could be affected by the choices I made. Understanding now that this was an ignorant thought, I am happy to say that I fully recognize how my choices affect other people, and I am excited to show those who I have wronged through that ignorance that I have learned from my mistakes.

Another change in thought I am grateful for is not taking things for granted. I grew up being taught to be, and I was grateful for what I had. But, I never really thought about why I was grateful for it. Going to Chile helped open my eyes to becoming more aware of all the work people do. For example, I bought my dad a chess set in Chile. The chess set was all hand made and it was beautiful. I stared at it closer and realized how much work had really gone into this chess set that was made to have others enjoy it. That moment was a life changing realization, and everything about the simple Chilean culture made me realize how much hard work people do, and to appreciate how much we have. Never again will I take a washing machine or a cell phone for granted, that’s for sure.

Being a student of the Link school, it is impossible NOT to make a difference for good. Selfless attitudes and helping others are practiced every day at Link. I am someone now that is excited to help out, to put a smile on someone else’s face. I am excited to bring this theme of making a difference for good back home to my friends and family.

Most importantly, the biggest way in which my thinking has changed is through my spirituality. Before I came to school I never wanted to be labeled as a Christian Scientist, or any religion for that matter. But after digging deep into Christian Science this year, only good things have been uncovered for me. I am much more in tune with my relationship to God. I practice Christian Science when dealing with sickness or challenges and I have become very excited for church and gratitude meetings. I always knew I was spiritual, but this year I have developed a passion for spirituality that will stay with me my whole life. All the constant reminders of Love and positive thinking I have had have been wonderful practice to becoming the person I want to be. This is what I am most grateful for, so thank you to everyone who has helped me come this far.

I always knew I had potential to be someone I myself respected and this year I have taken action on that and gained confidence that I am the person I want to be.

 

AVERY

AveryWhen I came to The Link School, I had no idea how I was going to change, or if I even would change. Two years ago, I would have laughed if someone told me I would be hiking through Turkey, or taking Spanish classes in Chile. I was a normal high school student who had no idea where I was going or what I was capable of, while looking at everything at a surface level. 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 had enough 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 dealt with. It’s a scary thing to live life, not knowing yourself and I was tired of dealing with that. When I heard about Link, I knew it would be one of the hardest things I would experience, but immediately I knew it was the right place for me.

These past two years 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 during my time at Link, than I have ever done in my life. I had no idea the things I was capable of until I came to here.

I feel like last year- I saw the change that needed to happen, and I figured out how to do that, but this year was when I really started that changing process. It has been like a rollercoaster ride this year, but it’s been a great opportunity for me to take the time to think about what I’ve learned and how I can put that to practice everyday and why I came here in the first place. I realized that I had been so worried about my image and my identity, and instead of seeing that I had always had the same identity and it was just a matter of it being made manifest, I was genuinely trying to change who I was. While thinking about that all year I’ve been working with two quotes, first from Science and Health, “Man is God’s reflection, needing no cultivation, but ever beautiful and complete” and from Psalms, “The kings daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.” Thinking about these two ideas, I’ve been able to really realize who I am and see my true, beautiful identity being expressed. 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 I’ve finally been able to clearly see 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 able to trust and be so excited to find out. I never was, but now I am the person I have struggled so hard to be, thanks to this amazing school and these incredible people I’ve been so blessed to have the opportunity to meet.

 

CASSIDY

CassOnce there was a little girl who didn’t know up from down. She was blessed with an awesome family, with Christian Science, and with more chances to see the world in her first 17 years of life than most people do in all of theirs. How could someone so blessed go wrong? She often asked herself. The world was at her fingertips and everyone in it was wrapped around her little finger, she was told. But she didn’t understand herself or the world or God.

She would have told you that she was impatient because she always had to wait to back to the place she loved most. That she was sporadic and rushed through life because she never knew how much time she had with people, or in a certain place. She would have insisted that she hated goodbyes because she said to many and never knew when she would see someone again. She would explain that she was clingy because she loved her friends and wanted people to know her dedication. She would say that she was suicidal because she didn’t like the unfairness of the world and that she drank because she could escape the inequality by not thinking about it. She went to camp because it stayed consistent and she could “get away” while she was there.

She had excuses for everything and sounded like an advocate for the nurture over nature campaign. Her biggest issue was that she didn’t understand what was ultimately in control of everything, what is everything and because of that she wasn’t comfortable, even in her own skin. She needed desperately to love and to feel loved for the right reasons, to understand who she was and how to answer the question: where is home? She needed to stop wanting to be everywhere and enjoy where she was. She needed to find her balance. Her “indissoluble spiritual link.”

The easiest way to explain who that girl was is to say that she was me. This isn’t completely correct though. Mary Baker Eddy defines resurrection as “Spiritualization of though; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; a material belief guiding to spiritual understanding.” Based on this definition, I think one completely leaves behind and old thought and takes on a new one. Just like progress is only a forward movement, you can never “unlearn” something. So, while it makes it easier to say that the girl was me, I believe there is no past, only present, thus I told the story of another young girl whom I barely know.

I have learned so much over this year from how to work a nail gun to how to do my laundry. I can mix cement and chop down trees, I know how to fix bunk beds and de-worm horses. I have backpacked the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, rafted the Arkansas, camped in Utah and explored Chile. I have played polocrosse with the Habañero team in New Mexico, snow shoed to the Lost Wonder Hut and climbed in CO, NM, UT and Patagonia. I worked in a cubicle at the Christian Science Monitor and duckied the Chama and the Rio Grande. I have done so much this year and have learned more about the US but the hardest, most accomplishing thing I have done this year is become an entirely new person.

I have found my balance. I understand and know and feel that my best friend, my shield, my comforter, my shepherd, is God. I exist in the fact that my relationship with God is entirely my own and can, and will, never be taken away. My relationship with God is my anchor, my keel. It is the constant, it is the golden thread woven throughout the tapestry of my life. It is never ending. I can go forward with my hand in God’s – trusting. “Come walk with love along the way, let childlike trust be yours today; uplift your thought, with courage go, give of your hearts rich overflow, and peace shall crown your joy-filled day.” I do not love; rather, God loves through me just like he loves me through everyone else. I know where my home is, and for the first time I acknowledge that it’s in God. God is my home and since God is everywhere, I can’t be out of place or away from home. Most importantly, I am.

Just like my maker, who is the “great I am” not the “great I was,” I am completely healed of a sense of past. Just like I would a hot frying pan, I have dropped the belief of my past and have come a new into the present. In the “great I am” I have found a gentle presence, which is applicable to both place and time. That presence provides me with peace and joy and power, which none can take away. That is my “indissoluble spiritual link.” Even though I can’t correctly say, “I was” something, now, and always, “I am. “

 

CÉZANNA

CezyI was in the in the shallows. My understanding of things would touch the surface and wouldn’t go any deeper. I then began to get caught up and tossed around in the turbulence. The transition of shallowness to depth began when I really started my exploration of Christian Science. This past year, facing challenges has become much more of an opportunity instead of a task. Christian Science has stabilized my foundation of growth.

Before I came to Link, I was the sort of person that would change my real, true self to jump into the flow of the ongoing river of normality, just to be like everyone else. I wanted to feel accepted. I did things that I wasn’t proud of; I wasn’t reflecting my true selfhood. I struggled to form my own opinions and stand courageously behind my decisions because I would always drift towards somebody else’s in hope that I would feel secure in my place. I was timid to push myself and to grow as a person. I wanted to be on the same level as everybody else and was ignorant to the fact that I could grow exponentially as a reflection of God.

No longer am I ignorant of my full potential, but assertive to everything that comes my way. I used to just be, and go along with the flow, but now I am living to the fullest; taking every adventure in as a learning curve. Loving everything thrown my way as an opportunity to grow and figure it out with Christian Science on my side. I now form my own opinions and can stand behind them with confidence.

Going deeper in Christian Science has truly changed me. This quote from Psalms is one I like to look to for my foundation, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” I love this quote because, no matter what the circumstance is, if we plant ourselves like trees next to the river of Truth, our lives will be abundant. The moment will not wither away, but it will be prosperous. We can sustain ourselves in the river of Principle and go through any circumstance untouched.

Through attaining a better understanding of Christian Science, my life has multiplied in great bounds and leaps. I am so grateful for the direction given to me. At first, I assumed I was lead by others, but now I know that I am lead by God.

 

DANIEL

DanWhen I was young, my eyes were shut to everything around me. Not by force or being naïve, but by choice. I chose to spend the energy of my mind creating and comprehending new worlds. I preferred them to my own. I saw my world as dull, repetitive, corrupt, a play put on to hide me from whatever was behind stage. I wanted to be like the explorers in my books, always steady, bright minded, courageous, victorious, happy. But I saw myself as none of these things. So I checked out. I lost all my inner voices.

I had lost the ability to make my own decisions without first asking others opinions. When opportunity came along, I would often say, “No”. I had little faith left in the good of people. I saw everybody as fakes. Everybody was a shell filling themselves over the top with societal necessities. Needing the newest, the best, the most expensive, the most, and this was what made them. Not their actions. Not their spiritual beliefs, not their opinions, not even their talents. They had nothing to make them unique. They were perfect counterfeits to me.

I thought I new everybody’s heart. Get rich, party, stay young forever, live for excitement. But then I began to see people who weren’t all about themselves. Who worked hard not for themselves, but to give to others. People who did things without a word of self-prais. People who were humble, loving, honest, genuine, beautiful. Not a shell filled with what society demanded.

I became inspired to search within myself to dig and uncover the controls that I needed to become, not like them, not like anybody in this world that has lived or ever will live, but to become Me. Whatever that is. Whatever, Me, is. However I am supposed to find Me is something I will always be looking and digging for. But I will never stop digging because I have already found things. I have found that I am persistent; I have found that, when opportunities arise, I can make a decision. I am independent, capable, I am morally strong. But most important, I can now reflect. I can see what I couldn’t when I was so young. When I knew nothing and believed only my own eyes. I can see what I missed when I looked at all those people. I can see them as who they are instead of what they are. I can see them as unique and genuine. I can see them as they way they are instead of squinting through frustration.

I was a boy with little hope who had buried his emotions and lost his path to becoming who he is. But now I am a man going into my life. I have found the path that I wish to follow. The path that I stepped off of so long ago to rest my weary heart. I can see the direction that this path leads, but I have no desire to head straight for the end. For the peak. I see many opportunities along the way that may change the way I walk this path, or what I carry to its end. I will take as many side trails, as I want, so long as they head me in the direction to finding Me, the only one that has ever lived.

 

DYLAN

DylAt the beginning of the year I was a lot of things, many of which were not bad but limited my ability to be myself. I knew what kind of person I was and what kind of person I wanted to be, but I was preventing myself from that. This self-blocking also prevented me from truly pursuing my creative endeavors. I love and have always loved watching, and especially making, films. I have always seen myself as a film maker/actor and absolutely nothing else professionally. Due to my self-blocking, this also prevented me from following my dream the way I knew my real self would. I became very frustrated, overwhelmed, and confused very frequently. This resulted in me being too busy with myself instead of getting to know and become friends with the amazing people around me. Even on top of that, I was out in the middle of nowhere doing activities I didn’t find as much interest in as most of the other kids. Being from the city, this was horrifying!

I needed to find a balance that would allow me to enjoy what I was doing every day, make amazing friends, and be the self I knew I wanted to be and was. The answer felt so close but so very extremely far away. Though the answer was closer than I felt. The answer was (in a way) as easy as flipping a switch. The answer was, “Be a person you want to hang out with. Be the person you think is awesome and hilarious! Stop being a freak’n downer and do what you love no matter what!” This changed the way I live my life every day.

Due to this, I have made friends with everyone here at the school. They are some of the best friends I’ve ever made and we have an awesome time! Instead of staying at school while some other guys go out and have fun, I go out with them and have some of the most unforgettable moments I’ve had. Not only that, my mind is at peace. I still think so much it’s ridiculous, but now they’re all positive thoughts. They are thoughts that do not revolve around myself, but around how I can make someone else’s day as awesome as I can! I’m immensely happy with all that but I’m also extremely excited for my film making/acting career.

Due to my humble, fun, and aware new look on my daily life, I was able to land a deal with a film producer in San Francisco. I am now currently working on a screenplay for a feature length film. It’s currently the hardest thing I’ve ever had to create, but it’s so incredibly cool! Who knows what the future holds? No matter how tough it gets, if you stay as the person you want to hang out with, it’ll be a much more pleasant experience. This year at Link has taught me all that. It’s really amazing how this experience has changed me so much. I was myself, but now I am really myself. Thank you Link for changing my life!

 

GEORGE

GeorgeI didn’t care, 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 cold, unloving and selfish. 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 hassle 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. I have now finally found that place, it is Link and now I can finally say, “I once was lost, but now I am found”.

To be teachable is not to just saying what people want to hear, but to listen and respect what there are saying. Bobby has always said to me, “To know and not to do, is not to know.” I finally realise what this really means. True respect for someone doesn’t just come through what you say to them. That’s just scratching the surface. To both give and gain respect you have to do what they’re asking you to do and not just say what they want to hear.

The hardest challenge, and one I have been facing my whole life and have had to overcome at Link, is to work with and not against people. I always had had the mindset of if someone told me that I was doing something wrong I would not listen. I would do it my way. Through the Link community I have learnt to take constructive criticism instead of living my life in my own little bubble shunning any others’ thoughts, loving or not.

 

JACK

JackLast year I was that kid that always ate lunch alone in the corner. I was the kid that always sat in the back corner of the classroom. I was that non-athletic fat kid. ##Although I may still be a bit fat, I have changed a lot this year at Link. The amount of close friends that I hang out with on a daily basis has increased exponentially. Now I am always trying to have conversations with the group at every meal, always speaking my opinion in in-class discussions, and being an important part of the group. That is what I am.

 

JENNA

JennaWow, I did it!! When I first came to Link, I did not feel sure about being myself in a big group. There was so much to do between academics, and projects, and expeditions that I felt lost a lot of the times, and would not know where to start. Frustrated and angry thoughts and feelings would slip into my mind, making me lose my focus. But I finally remembered that I am strong and courageous, that I am created spiritually, and my one best friend, God, gives me the ability to stand up to these thoughts that try to make me believe that I cannot do anything right. I had a choice: I could follow the path of lousy suggestions that were not going to help me, or I could follow the path that was full of good ideas and things to come – already prepared for me. I chose the path of good ideas, and I found my artwork and discovered how to transfer my artwork to something beautiful and even edible – decorating cakes!

Finding my senior project was perfect because it was a challenge and it was something I really enjoyed doing. In the beginning I wasn’t sure, but as the year went on, I became more confident and was not afraid to express myself and my feelings. I have learned to face challenges with strength and courage. This is who I am.

 

JEREMY

JerI was the guy who was caught up in himself, who thought that everything was justifiable because, well, he was just himself and that was enough. I used to feel a sense of entitlement for everything in my life. This was a bad way to live my life. With this entitlement that I felt, also came other many negative feelings when I did not get my way, or things did not play out in my fashion. I led my life conscience free by being apathetic. This hurt the people I loved around me. I lived my life with apathy because I did not want to deal with the ups, downs and other difficult situations that might present themselves in my daily experience. In essence I wanted to plan and run every logistic in my life without a hitch.

Now, after the past few years I have learned much about dealing with issues in my life. I no longer have to turn to these past releases to avoid the problems, because now I can rely on spiritual guidance. I have dealt with many problems in my life this way, and I have had much success. I now am mature enough to deal with the problems face to face, without running. Instead now I confront the problems outright. This is a huge step in my life. I now am none of the things I once was. I am living with control in my life, and am living to my specifications, because instead of trying to micro manage every little thing, I am instead just making the most of what I have and everything is working out in my favor.

 

LOUISA

LouisaI never thought I could progress as much as I did this year. I started high school focused on my social life, and my attitude toward life seemed to have gotten more selfish through junior year. I taught myself to get through hard times by not caring. I did whatever I could to have fun in the moment instead of thinking about future consequences. Afterwards, while living through the consequence, my life seemed hopeless. I still felt like I couldn’t change, so I made the same mistakes over again, trying to run away from my problems by going out with friends and having fun temporarily instead of doing school work and things that are worth while. I was never satisfied. I was always wanting to change what I was doing or who I was with. I was contemplating the future, looking forward to the weekend or times when I could possibly escape and not have to worry about what I should be doing, instead of living in the present. I knew what I wanted to do – get good grades, follow rules, and live up to the best person I could be by having fun with activities I loved – but it seemed like all of those goals were far out of my reach.

This year I have figured out how to be the person I want to be. Every thought going through my head seems fulfilled, purposeful, and excited about life. I am motivated to make progress and help others do the same. I have a sense of purpose and a much more positive outlook on life. I try to do things to the best of my ability instead of just being satisfied when my work is adequate, or good enough to be called done. I have learned to live in the moment, so no matter where I am, what I am doing, or who I am with, I am satisfied and happy. Compared to last year and the years before I seem to be content all the time. I am so grateful for everything I have done here, and all the opportunities The Link School has given me. I know that I am now at the turning point in my life that is leading me to happiness.

 

MICHAEL

MichaelBefore I was looking at things in a very simplistic way. I would see different places and think to myself, how glad I was that I don’t live there, and how I could not imagine myself in that situation. But this year has really opened my eyes and I now look at life in a whole new way. I’ve learned that everything has a story behind it, and as I’ve gone through the year, these stories have seemed to become clearer and clearer. The funny thing is, I haven’t really realized it until now, but as I think back on my experiences here at Link, I can really see the difference in my thought and how that affected the way I was looking at my experiences.

So many new things have been introduced to me this year. From mountain biking, climbing, rafting and kayaking, to the little things such as being part of a democratic community where I have a direct impact whether its me voicing an opinion, or going throughout the day. All of these new experiences are what made the change in my thought. If I had to tell someone about how I’ve changed in the last year, I would tell them that I now look at things in a clearer, non-materialistic way and thus, I can see the underlying messages and stories that have been there the entire time.

 

RYAN

RyI was ambitious but stagnant. I didn’t know where I was going but I wanted to go so many places. I have always loved life and all it provides for me, but I didn’t know how to access it. At The Link School my energy has been directed. I do things because I want to, not because I am forced. I still may not know exactly where I am going, but I have learned to love the journey getting there. I have learned a genuine appreciation for what I experience, new knowledge, people around me, and time people give to me.

 

Truett:

Truett“Ye are the salt if the earth.”

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that sits on a hill cannot be hid.”

- Christ Jesus -

“Let us watch, work, and pray that this light be not hid but radiate and glow in noontide glory.”

- MBE -

“I AM that I AM.”

- God -

Often life seems to be about an individual – you or me. But how often do we misjudge? How often is it not you or me, but rather I AM? God: the Principle of divine Good, the recognition that Principle governs. That finding of me, that making of me happy/content/complete, really revolves around the recognition of I AM and the loss of any ego but the One.

At the beginning of this year, I had a goal to leave behind all laziness, especially that which is in thought. Looking back now, I see a huge change in how quick I am to respond to a situation through prayer and action compared to the past. I think that the desire to be more willing to tackle mental and mortal suggestions has paved the way for this clearer recognition of the I AM. I now see life as a constant progression, constant growth, that’s guaranteed and governed by divine Principle.

Last year, I wrote a poem about climbing “the wall of my dreams.” Anyone who knows me now might think the “me” who wrote the poem was the same as the “me” now – I don’t look any different. Yet, I know I am miles beyond the point I was then. I wrote the poem only dreaming of reaching my goals, but doubting my ability to even make it to the base of my “wall.” But now I see that there is a path for me to take, a path that led me to Link, and that has brought me through this school year – growing, learning, loving every moment no matter how challenging. I know that path stretches on before me, on and on; there will always be a way to move forward, upward, on the wall of my dreams. Each day I am setting a foot down the path to my wall. Though I have not touched the rock, or planned my route, I see a path straight and narrow set for me, just as there is for everyone. I was without belief that reaching the heights of my dreams was possible. Now I have found that I must only follow that path no matter how rough the going. Because that trail is mapped by Truth, Love, Good – with I AM, harmony, peace leading the way. And it’s a perfect plan for “me.”