Joyfully Yours,

Growing up, I always thought I was locked in a race with everyone around me. We were all constantly running towards some unseeable goal, which I didn’t learn until later was simply an end. After a while of running this race and coming close to the end more times than I am comfortable with, I decided I had enough.

I don’t believe in rushing. I don’t like the feeling of being in a hurry and I definitely do not like to be physically rushed. Those feelings are ones I, unfortunately, did not process until late in my life.

My early years of high school were filled with me pushing against who I was. I forced myself to fit in with those who were sprinting towards their goals when I desperately wanted to be with those who found enjoyment in walking.

The quiet time I spent alone during the pandemic was what really forced me to stop running and take a look at what I was doing. I was not happy. I had surrounded myself with people who did not make me a better person. I had started myself down a path that I did not enjoy. And overall, I felt like I had failed. I had failed because everyone around me seemed to be so close with their friends and meanwhile my friend group was falling apart. I had failed because everyone around me knew what they wanted to do with their life after high school while I kept changing my mind, and I was never happy with what I chose. I had failed because I was not the daughter

I thought my parents wanted me to be. But I realized that I could start over. I stopped talking to those who brought me down and I became closer with my current friends, who I love dearly and I could not imagine would be this helpful. I changed my future plans, and decided science was not the path I wanted to take and instead switched to something I was passionate about. And I decided to stop running. The moment I decided to stop running, step off to the side, and take a look around was when I could finally feel myself heal.

In the chaos and confusion of continuously moving, I hadn’t realized that I was hurt. Not just by the large blades that cut right through me, but there were thousands of paper cuts I had just ignored. It took months to actually process those “injuries.” During those months, I can remember sleeping all of the time and failing my classes. But once I was done I felt much better (although angry at myself for failing all of my classes.) I felt like a new person who was actually ready to take on what life had in store instead of someone who was just mindlessly moving towards something they didn’t care about.

Cliché as it is, I learned that It’s the small things in life that really tend to stick out the most.A friend remembering you liked a certain thing and buying it for you for your birthday. Buying pens in all different colors because you like options, even though you wouldn’t be caught dead writing in pen. Buying another stuffed animal (mostly cows!) despite being old enough to vote. And for me, finding joy in walking.

We are always asked what we would say to our past selves if we could go back in time. 

Most would tell past us to do a certain thing or to stop talking to a certain person, or invest in Apple, but I don’t think I would want to talk to little Autumn. I think we needed to go through the changes we did in order to become the me I am today. Although it wouldn’t hurt if I told her it’s okay to sit back and find joy in walking through life.

And so,

Joyfully Yours,