Year 9 2016/2017
I was now I am
India: Bobby once told me; Hold fast that which is good.
It’s actually from 1st Thessalonians, and when I looked it up later that night the full verse actually read: Prove all things; Hold fast that which is good.
Prove all things.
I didn’t have a lot to prove before Link. I have always had an image of this person I want to be and she’s amazing. She’s strong, she lives without guilt and is confident in the love she gives and receives.
She knows who she is.
But that’s a lot to prove. It’s a road I didn’t want to take, because I didn’t know how to start. But I think the first step is to hold fast that which is good.
I have a lot of good here.
I have people that really love and care about me, I’m not going to forget that.
I refuse to forget that.
I’m tired of leaving and disappearing. Now, when the going gets tough I won’t be going.
I didn’t have roots.
I didn’t care about myself.
I didn’t care about who I was going to end up being.
But now I kinda like who I am, who I am becoming. I have a lot to do, and a lot to prove, so I will hold fast that which is good.
Beka: I was always someone that wanted to fit in. I wanted to do what the ‘cool girls’ were doing. I wanted to act and talk like them. I didn’t want to be an outsider anymore. I didn’t want everyone to make fun of me because of how different I was. All I wanted was to be somewhat normal. Wanted the boy down the hall to shoot me a wink because he thought I was appealing. I changed myself completely. Changed what I liked, my style, my smile.
First my mother noticed, then my best friend since the second grade, my aunt, grandma, and so on. They all told me the same thing: “Beka Rose, this isn’t you,” or “you aren’t the same caring, kind little girl I use to know.” I didn’t care though. None of what they were saying really mattered to me because the cute boys down the hall still thought I was good-looking. They would send me messages, saying all of the same basic things boys say, making me blush. I thought that they cared and all I needed was someone telling me how nice I looked.
I was wrong though, they didn’t care at all.
As my freshman year got to an end, so did all of my friendships and the trusting relationships I had with my family. All I had were those damn boys. When I tried to tell them to stop, they didn’t. Rumors got out, and spread like a virus. There was no escaping. I began to look at old pictures, with my friends and family. With the girl I once knew, the one whose smile was pure. And not the smile that I would put on just to impress. I missed that old smile I once had.
I thought I could never have that back either, but luckily, I was wrong about that also.
The Link School showed me that I could get that smile back. And gave me the courage and strength I was missing. Now I want to stand out from everyone else in the world. And I know that I am capable of doing whatever I set my heart to. Now, I know I can continue to grow. I am getting the smile back that the girl in the pictures had. I am truly grateful I have been able to find myself once again, and been able to realize how ridiculous a wink from the boy down the hall was.
Grace: Before I started Link, I was unsure of myself. I had friends, but I never really felt like I belonged. Then I looked at Link. I knew that it existed and has come to graduation a few times, but I never really considered it, the possibility of attending was years away. My 7th grade school year was drawing to a close as was the application process so I made my decision, I would apply to Link to see if I could skip 8th grade. I visited school for dinner and could feel the sense of community, oozing, emanating from every hidden pore. I wanted to go, and they let me in!
Cut to arrival day, I was a bundle of nerves and excitement. I knew no one, but it felt as if the year would be a good one. My nerves took control first semester and most of my days were spent crying in the bathroom or trying to hide some sort of physical ailment. Despite all of this, I grew close to my classmates, building friendships and finding a place that I could call my own. Now, I am able to confidently say that Link was the best thing for me and I can’t wait to come back next year.
Kelvin: I was like a puddle. I wouldn’t do that much. In town, I’d hang around in trees, rake some leaves, sometimes take a bike ride to see how far I could go, play in my room and with my couple of friends and make a snow fort. At the beach, I’d dig holes in the sand, occasionally take a sail boat ride, dam up the creek nearby, and go sledding.
Now, I am like a river. I climb rocks and ice. I bike through wet and dry climates. I kayak and raft on rivers through canyons and rough rapids. I hike up, down, and around mountains and passes. I build tree houses and buildings, and most importantly I have fun. Someday I’ll be doing all of the stuff I learn here at Link with some new friends and putting all these things into practice.
Mallory: Confused. That is where I was as a student, person, young woman. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be, and I still don’t. I hated myself as a person. I thought I was not smart enough, pretty enough, capable enough to make my life worth something. When I looked in the mirror I just saw the shell of a person full of lost capability.
I still feel like that sometimes but now I have the possibility of an idea. Since the year started, more has come into my thought. Things have not gotten easier for me, especially in my personal life, but I have found things that really mean something to me. I found some small grain of sanity in the friends I made. There is nothing the same about how we grew up, or our friendships with each other, but to me that doesn’t matter.
I never used to have a hard time connecting with people but then one day I just couldn’t. I all of a sudden didn’t understand how to be around people. I still loved them and wanted to be there, but my heart was not in it anymore. I felt separated, alone. It is my understanding that most growing teenagers feel this way, but because it was me it was my whole world. Alone was all I could ever feel. All of a sudden no one understood me, and that sucked. I loved my parents but I felt I could no longer communicate with them. It was like I just wasn’t getting through anymore and it hurt so badly.
So I left. I went to Principia Upper School to get away from the problems I was having but a bomb was dropped on me, and I was more confused than ever. Why this? Why me? Why now? I questioned everything but I never got any answers. I kept looking, and that opened up doors to past problems that I had forgotten with time. Scary, Horrible doors were opened in my pursuit of understanding myself and it scared me so much that I fell back into destructive patterns and I am partially still there but getting better.
I don’t think I will ever be the same person I was but I think that is a good thing. It is not okay for me to be oblivious to my own memories and trying to forget them because it is easier. I have to face life head on. I understand that now and I want to understand.
When I first arrived at Link I heard about the principles we hold ourselves to: curiosity, growing edge, stewardship, integrity, compassion, spiritual seeking, in the moment, unified, and genuine. I wanted to really try and put myself in the community so I picked a quality that I felt I really needed to work on, the one that stood out to me was growing edge. The first ride down the river I put this principle into action my taking a leap of faith and jumping off a huge rock – fear of falling this was a big thing for me. Now I am still working on my growing edge but not by jumping of rocks, now I am working on my inner edges.
I have more questions than ever and fewer answers. Nothing makes sense but it no longer paralyses me with fear. Now I just want to find what I lost. I want to find that connection that I lost and I want to start with the one I lost with myself. I don’t want to be aimlessly adrift in an endless sea of not knowing what is going on in my own head. I now want to put the time into my relationship with myself. I want to be able to look into the mirror and not hate what I see. I want to work on enjoying the time I spend out in the world. I want to be in a room full of people and not feel alone anymore and that starts with me. In the oh so great words of Michael Jackson “I’m starting with the man in the mirror”. I love this!!!!!!!!
Eli: I felt like I was just a shell waiting to be filled with new opportunity. That new opportunity has been different every year that I’ve been here at Link. At first I was afraid to try new things, but I have now learned how, and honestly it has been the best three years of trying so many new things and loving them, and what I’ve learned about myself while doing them. After my first year here I have found myself achieving new things that I thought I would have never tried. Somethings that I have done are: I have run 2 half marathon races and now I will run a marathon, I have challenged myself and upgraded my sense of myself.
At first I was unsure of how to get along with people who were different than me. I was like the one person who I felt at first no one had anything in common with, which was hard to deal with. It was not always fun because I felt I was downsized by some others at times with them feeling that maybe I don’t have much ability – but I now know I do. Now that I have been here for three years I have been able to find a way to be able to interact with and have conversations with others and understand their needs and uniqueness.
I had been having a rough time in my with changes in my family prior to coming to Link. I was confused as to why I was stuck in the middle of two different homes which was not a great experience. Now that I have been away, I have found a way to deal with the family struggles that we have had. The fix that I have found is to just love. I love my two sisters so much and they are very supportive. I also love my parents and they have helped make me the way that I am. Even though I am still going back and forth I still have an amazing time with both of them.
I am not a little child anymore. I am 19 now. I have to take direction of my own life and pursue my own interests moving forward. I am now my own person. I have a job and I am going to an amazing trade school. I will miss Colorado and most of all the incredibly supportive staff here. Even though I might not be here at Link, I will always have that connection to the love and support. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to be able to have the best experience of my life.
I was lost, but now i am found
Mathias: I was unsure. Unsure of what lay ahead. Blindly searching for something, anything that I could hold on to. I was confused as to what I was meant to do or be. Looking for the right reasons was difficult. It seemed as if there was no way out. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of choosing the wrong side of the choices I was given. I was unaware of how I affected those around me. I didn’t pay attention to what those who loved me were telling me. I was simply lost.
Then there was Link. I was gone; gone from the distractions of home, free to do and say what I pleased. I thought I was invisible. My parents couldn’t touch me, they weren’t here to tell me what to do. I did what I wanted, unwarranted. Nobody knew me, they had no idea who I was or what my motives were. Simply stated: I was dangerous to myself.
Things went great, for the first month at least. As soon as the year was about a quarter of the way through I was blown off my feet. I was underwater, in a current of emotions that I could not break free of. I was getting myself into things that were not meant for a fourteen-year-old. Things that my peers were doing were dragging me under. I was distracted and unsure of the difference between right and wrong, and became dependent on those bad decisions.
Nobody, except my friends, seemed to know what I was doing, the damage I was inflicting on my life. At least I thought they were my friends. But I didn’t care, I thought it was fun. Towards spring break I was falling off an edge. My mind was muddled, grades were dropping and so was my determination to do my best, at anything. And so, I was asked to leave, to find the source of my challenges, and cut them at the root.
But now who am I? My once crippled mind is now strong and capable. I feel free; free to think what I need to think. Not distracted by the things I once considered to be my future, however abysmal it seemed. I am free to be the person I was meant to be. A student. An athlete. A friend who cares. A human in my own nature.
At Link this year I was able to blossom as a person. I am finally growing into the person I wanted to be. I feel more complete, more ready to take on problems than ever. The “I Am” is not yet complete. I am still growing stronger as a person. I can’t wait until next year, when I can continue to become who I was meant to be.
James: For a while growing up I lived a carefree and sturdy life. My parents set me up for success and supported me each and every day. I had a naive and adventurous outlook on life. It wasn’t until I gained a little bit of independence that I hit a point of struggle. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I had an idea but I didn’t have definitive answers. One of the main things that drew me to Link was the idea of being in an environment where I could explore. I thought I would have the opportunity to find out who I truly was.
I came to Link from a school called Culver Military Academy in Indiana, and it’s safe to say that Link is the exact opposite of a military school. There were definitely aspects I liked about my old school, but it was time for me to get out of there. I had experienced one extreme but it was time for me to experience the opposite; a hippie liberal school in Colorado that had 13 students. I am a believer that we need to experience as much as we can in life to figure out what it truly is that we want. I also believe that we should live in the moment, which is why I made the somewhat spontaneous decision to transfer to Link for my senior year.
The dichotomy in my high school experiences has lead me to find myself, sort of. I still have a lot to find out about myself. I am going to a liberal arts college with no idea what I want to study. However, I do know exactly who the kid is that is going step foot on Quest University campus this August. I know the type of person he is going to be and I know how he is going to act. I couldn’t say that before this year. Before Link I felt like I had to be different based on the activity I was doing or the people who I was hanging out with.
At Link, I found many times to be alone. I was able to explore my thoughts which is something I had never really done before. I had many fantastic conversions with my teachers about their lives and that has helped me to figure out mine. The experiences I have had here have enthralled my passion for anything and everything outdoors. If you haven’t already guessed, I connected more with Link then I did with my old school. I am going to a college in the mountains that shares many similarities with Link. I will be attending intimate classes with teachers who care. I will also have access to rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, and kayaking whenever I want to.
The Link School made me happy, content, and comfortable with the person I am. There is nowhere I would’ve rather been this year. What I learned here, the experiences I had, the memories I made, and the people I got to know will last with me for the entirety of my life.
Bryce: Some say that lying digs you a hole that you cannot get out of, one that is very hard to get out of, but I was able to learn how to abuse that pit of despair digging deeper and deeper to achieve full deception of those around me. I stayed locked out from the world, creating the illusion for those around me that I was an average kid, sometime a little more than average. Keeping that illusion up came all too easy to me. I put it up not wanting to ever take it down, because I could make myself appear however I wanted to be. I could make people think I was great, or make them think I was the worst. Having them think I am the worst would make it so I wouldn’t ever have to deal with them. I would choose carefully who would be the easiest to manipulate and the hardest, who would I benefit from the most. Just by lying to everyone around me I was able to paint myself whatever color I wanted to appear to anyone. Not having anyone to trust, because I didn’t want to trust anyone, not wanting to make connections because I feel like they’re too much of a hassle, too much work, I didn’t really care about anyone else but myself. Thinking “why should I have to deal with these people, that care no more for me than I do them?” But family, on the other hand, family I left out of that picture. If I were to put them in my world, then I would be without anything. Family is what I treasured most, right next to my own world. I made sure to keep the two as far away from each other as possible.
Mom said to me one day that she got a message from Bobby saying that there were open spots at The Link School. My mouth moved all on its own saying, “Yes.” I don’t know why I felt so inclined to go when I had my own little world in my hands, able to change whatever I liked. Confused equally as much as my mom, she said, “ok let’s get started.” Preparing me physically and mentally is what my mom thought, leaving my world behind is what I thought and worried about the most.
After the summer was over and I arrived at Link, I realized that I could no more have my world. I am running no more. I am finding who I am as a person.
Benji: I was a kid that didn’t have that many friends I wasn’t confident but I knew that I had a lot to be grateful for. I just had a hard time realizing that. After attending my first year at The Link School, that changed quickly. Now I have a friend who happens to support me whenever I need to talk to him. Now I am a kid who is somewhat confident and can appreciate what life has to offer like the wonderful opportunities The Link School offers. I learned how to step out of my comfort zone. I guess that is what life boils down to: I’m going to have to step out of my comfort zone and being at The Link School taught me that. Now I have somewhat of an idea of what life will be like as a young adult, and can’t wait to learn even more about myself.