Be Genuine

Tifani - Milwaukee, Illinois
Entered on July 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that life is short. I never cared about wasting time before, never thought there would be a day when I would love to get my lost years back and realize it was too late. I always assumed that I could start living tomorrow. Then tomorrow would come, as always, and I’d put off the start of my life until the next day.

Let me clarify- on the outside I seemed alive. I was always laughing and smiling, able to brighten everyone else’s day but my own. Only those who were intuitive enough to look past my over-the-top laugh and endearingly ditzy personality realized that this was a façade, built up over the years to hide the truth. These intuitive people looked into my eyes and realized that my smile stopped at my cheeks. They realized that my laughter was heard by everyone around me but me. They watched me walk through each day and realized that my prayer each night was for God to please end my life.

I realized this as well. I knew that while I could fool everyone around me, I could not fool myself. I had several moments of clarity where I suddenly cared about my life again. I tried to reach out to people- those who I knew I didn’t fool for a minute, those who asked me fifteen different times in a day if I was, “Okay.” I broke, spilled my entire life story in a moment of weakness, and thought that was enough. “I’m caring,” I said. “I obviously am trying really hard to live my life how I want to live, reaching out to those around me who care, and doing all I can. I just am not made for this living business.”

This was the issue though. I was reaching out to those who cared about me in the hopes that their care would make up for the care I didn’t have for myself. I had forgotten how to be an active participant in my own life.

And this brings me right back- life is short. I am twenty years old and have just wasted two years of my life. I have all the documentation to show that I lived those years – I have the class credits, the paystubs, the receipts and the pictures. My picture is in the top row of faces on my sorority composite and my artistic style is on several publications from my school. This all means that I must have been someone in these past two years. I wish I knew who that person was.

Since life is so short, I am choosing to never lose myself this way again. Each time I look down at my wrist, the beaded letters on my bracelet spell out a constant reminder of this- “Be genuine.” I am lucky that I only lost two years of my life to merely existing and determined to treat my life as something precious from now on. And this I genuinely believe.