Stars

Say you’ll remember me, 
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks,
Say you’ll see me again, even if it’s just in your
Wildest dreams

This night is sparkling, don’t you let it go
This night is flawless, don’t you let it go

You’ll see me in hindsight, 
Tangled up with you all night
Burning it down
Someday when you leave me, 
I bet these memories follow you around
-“Wildest Dreams/Enchanted”/Taylor Swift

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

It’s the day before New Year’s Eve, and I’m lying in bed with an adorable boy. His arms are around me and he’s falling asleep. I am staring up at the lights that hang above my bed, and I smile because they look like stars. Life could be worse.

He pulls me closer and I am so grateful for this moment, even though I know that it is fleeting.

tumblr_myyitbQSWF1qc4uvwo1_500We’ve just been cuddling for a while, and that’s all we’ve done today because I am in the middle of a depressive episode and I’ve already used most of my energy for the day in an effort to be a real person (shower, eat, clean the litter box, feed the cat, pick things up off the floor, and so on and so forth).

I also have a cold, but lying next to him I almost forget. It’s easier to breathe and the pain in my muscles is gone. With this thought, I have a brief moment of deja vu – I’m lying in bed with someone else 51 weeks ago, and I have a cold and I am having this exact same thought.

I sit up suddenly and I say, “Do you ever have years where at the end of them, you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything?”

I feel this way because it seems like this year has come full circle. I’m back in a place similar to where I was at the beginning of this year, which is both good and bad.

Good in that I have this person who will hold me when I need it, but bad in that I feel vaguely disconnected from my friends, for reasons I can’t quite explain, and my best friend has mysteriously disappeared for no reason (I knew where she was last year, she was in Ireland, but still).

My year has been bookended by these boys with three-letter names, and as pointless as these relationships sometimes feel due to their temporary nature, I learned something from them.

From the first, I learned that it was possible for me to move on, and possible for me to be in a semi-functional relationship. I learned how to remove the mental limitations I had placed on myself that told me “You can’t do that”, inspired by his persistent optimism and willingness to try anything. I learned that someone can still love you even if it’s not in the way you want, and that is worth embracing.

From the second, I learned that it is possible to be understood without having to explain yourself a hundred times, or sometimes even at all. I learned that it is possible to share interests with someone who isn’t going to turn out to actually be bisexual. (I mean, probably.) I learned that my expectations all these years have not been entirely unrealistic. I learned that you are not the opinion of one man, or even a few men. I learned that all of the little things that I like about myself that others don’t seem to notice or appreciate are, in fact, worth appreciation.

And in the middle of these boys, I became closer with my female friends than I ever have before. I learned that they are actually the most important thing in my life, and that I can get through anything with them by my side.

I learned lots of other lessons too.

I learned how to fall in love without having to say it out loud.

I learned that leadership sometimes means keeping your emotions to yourself.

I learned the correct word for throwing someone out a window (it’s defenestrate).

I learned how to rock climb.

I learned that I am not good at building Ikea furniture.

I learned that I look good as a blonde.

I learned how to embrace change, or at least live with it.

I learned how to play the ukulele.

I learned that just because you are used to being treated a certain way doesn’t make it okay or mean that you should treat others the same way.

I learned to leave earlier for flights.

I learned how to get a good spot at the Cavalcade of Lights.

I learned that sometimes people WILL show up for you.

I learned how quickly time can pass when you’re happy.

And in between all those lessons, there were little moments of pure joy.

IMG_7422Like when Charlotte discovered the hilarious face that my Nemo stuffed animal makes when you squish its head. When I actually had a nice conversation with my ex-boyfriend for the first time in two and a half years. When I actually had a nice conversation with my brother for the first time, period. When Charlotte took one for the team…several times…and stood up for me when no one else would. When Melissa brought me a cat mug just because I was sad. Crafting in Charlotte’s basement. Finding out I have a lot more in common than I thought with someone who I thought was an enemy. 3 AM snapchats. Terrible puns. Getting to spend my birthday in my hometown with my two best friends. Seeing the PanAm CN Tower fireworks from our rooftop. Endless hours watching cartoons on my bed. The breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon.

And this moment right here – we talk for a little bit about the merits of the things I have done (or not done) this year, then I lie back down and for the next couple of hours I feel safe and warm and like everything is going to be okay.

When I look up at those lights, and my vision starts to blur as they turn into stars, I see those memories reflected back at me in each one.

So that’s why even though I didn’t accomplish anything of note this year, I still don’t believe that it was wasted. I learned more this year than I probably have in any other. And that’s why I’m okay with the fact that last New Year’s feels like it was yesterday. Time moved fast, because apart from a few difficult moments, I was happy. Really happy.

And that sets me up for a pretty great year in 2016 – one where I can hopefully put all those lessons I’ve learned to good use and find someone with staying power.

I hope that you have an arsenal of happy moments, however big or small, that you can turn to when you need it. And if you don’t…it’s not too late. There’s always tomorrow. A couple of years ago, I would never have believed that I would have people in my life like I do now. I am still not where I want to be, but life is worth living.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Just find way to get home
There’s a space in my heart
Open arms for you to run to
Baby close your eyes and take the leap
To make believe in fairytales
I’ll meet you there
I’ll fall too
See I’ve wanted you here all along
But my fear just keeps haunting me, won’t let me go
So it’s hard to say I love you

We could be stars…
Oh we could be stars…
We could be stars…
We could be stars…
-“Stars”/Alessia Cara


CHELSEA RICCHIO

Chelsea Ricchio is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the SPEAK OUT blog. She is also the Communications Manager for Healthy Minds Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in English Literature and Book & Media Studies. She was the former president of the student group Active Minds at UofT, which hosts SPEAK OUT events on campus (from which this blog takes its name). She was diagnosed with Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She is 23 and lives in Toronto with her cat Genie and her roommate. 

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