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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Waits

If you have ever contemplated hurting yourself, read this.

I hated myself for a long time. Let me be clear - you can hate yourself and also be highly functioning. I functioned under the veil of uber positivity as my way of deflecting from my problems. You don't need to think about your own problems when you are too busy helping everyone with theirs. I had always felt this way, since I was a child. I knew I was special in some way, but isn't everyone? Being highly functioning with depression just means your problems are bound to catch up with you later.

2015 was my senior year in high school. The absolute worst year of my life. My school environment was soul-crushing and suffocating. I had been rejected, waitlisted, or outright ignored by all seven of the institutions I applied to. I was number 143 out of 176 students for my GPA rank. My breasts, stomach, arms, and thighs were ballooning faster than I could keep up with. Everyone around me was doing so goddamn well. I grew tired of hearing my classmates say things like, "You went through all of this for nothing." I knew how fucking stupid I was, I have eyes I can see my big ass, and I knew that I was supposed to be going to some amazing college where my dreams were going to be fulfilled like everyone else. I began every morning by telling myself, "This is the best you will get. Get used to it."

I was thoroughly convinced that I had reached my potential. If you can't do high school work, how can you do college work? I didn't have any technical skills I could make a career out of, and I had my heart set on medical school just to have that idea shot down by every single person who went to my medical professions based school. There was no way to become prettier, be smart, or learn something other than talking and eating. While my friends saw the sky as the limit, I saw my limit at my feet. Stuck. Under the concrete. No where to grow and no way out. My school environment was life sucking and suffocating; family life full of chaos; and my future was nonexistent.

I attempted to kill myself six times in 2015. All attempts with medication, sitting in my tub, the night before school. As I took random pills, I imagined my mother finding me, screaming and shaking me awake. I remember how content I felt knowing that I wouldn't open my eyes. I can finally feel as dead as I felt while I was alive. But it never fucking worked. Every attempt, I would wake the fuck up. Another realization hit me - I can't do anything right.

I went to UTSA thinking "fuck it". Let me go somewhere where no one knows how big of a failure I am so I can lie to them and have them think I'm the shit. Acting like I was the shit soon had me actually thinking I was the shit. For spurts of time, not very long. Each spurt of confidence brought new lessons, that I use now to keep myself afloat. I had to remind myself that nothing lasts forever. Good or bad change is inevitable and its best to not take life so seriously. I learned to try new things because when I get stuck in a box, it is hard to get myself out. I learned to keep a tight circle of people who actually care about me close. I learned that every person is born with potential that may or may not be cultivated depending on their environments and you have to actively worked against all that bullshit in your environment to be able to see who you can be.

I recently began feeling down again. I feel stuck. I feel surrounded by people who expect impossible things from me and I can't tell them I'm not super woman. I feel like that girl who only saw herself as a GPA, as a rank. I feel like everyone wants me to save them or save their situations when I don't have the answers. Once again, I feel like I am back to acting like i'm the shit and forgot I was the shit. So, I went to the mall and with $45 I took my first ever senior photos.

Ugh. Look at me. I am literally crying on to my laptop. This took so much. I have never seen myself as intelligent, and I am going to be the first in my family to receive a PhD. My high school teacher told me my writing was "the worst I've seen" and I have won over twenty awards for my writing. I never knew that beauty could come in so many forms and how much I could like looking in a mirror. I have won over $30,000 and counting in scholarships, have mentored countless students to see their potential, and was accepted in all five of my PhD programs with full funding. I never took pictures like this because I felt like I didn't deserve it; but I know now that I do.

I saw my life as that tub I continuously tried to kill myself in. Small, confined, a clear beginning and end with walls all around me. Now, the sky isn't my limit - I am limitless. When I am depressed, I create. I create to connect and to try and convince others that their lives don't belong in a tub. They belong in the world. My story is important, and so is yours. I wish I could go back to 2015, and tell myself that I love her. She is so strong. She can do anything. Stand up for yourself and others and never stop. Lead with love in your heart, and remember empathy; the world will lose it soon. And lastly, stop listening to what others think of you Taylor. Write your own story, it's a best-seller.

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