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Discovering Myself After I Thought I Already Had… When I was about twelve years old I began to really come into myself. That’s about the time I realized that my mom was my best friend, and someone I could approach with anything, instead of viewing her as just a parental figure whose only mission in life was to tell me what to do. Her and I bonded and talked about everything and anything; we had no boundaries. I know that if it weren’t for that turn of events, I would not be who I am right now.

I’ve always been sure of my opinions and of my decisions, so I’ve always been very comfortable opening up to people, but I didn’t come into my own until I came to high school. All of a sudden I was thrown into a whole new experience. I joined the drama club and met the most amazing people I have ever, and most likely will ever meet in my life. I began to feel more comfortable with myself, and began to open up. By second semester I began dating Brett… I was crazy about him. He was charming, and acted as if I held the key to his world.

I always felt so special around him. His family welcomed me into their family immediately. We spent two years and nine months together, the first 2 years and six months or so were complete bliss. I felt like I had everything figured out. I knew who I was; I was Brett’s girlfriend, a good friend and a singer. I knew that I wanted to go to college with Brett, move in, get married, and have a white picket fence with a hobby farm and three kids. I thought I knew myself and that I was done for the most part.

I was ready to settle into my life and grow up… I was wrong. Our last few months together occurred during my first couple months of my senior year. He went off to college and embraced it, as he deserved to do. I stayed behind and began my senior year. I was uncomfortable because I felt alone. Most of my friends had graduated along with Brett. I had friends in my grade but for the most part I knew that for the past three years no one knew me as Nadine, the great friend, or the singer, they knew me as the girl dating Brett.

They knew me as the quiet girl that had been dating that one guy for forever. Once I was alone, I began to realize that maybe that was how I viewed myself too. I realized that maybe I had made Brett’s and my relationship too much of my identity. I began thinking and I realized that there was still so much more to me, and that I wanted everyone to see it. During the two months I spent in school alone, I noticed how easily I got along with everyone, and that I could hold my own.

I started to realize what I wanted for myself instead of what I wanted for us, and I realized some scary things. I realized that I wanted new experiences… and that over the last few months somewhere along the way I had fallen out of love and moved on. I realized that I had merely been comfortable so I over looked all the screaming and fighting he and I did. I wanted my picket fence dream to come true so desperately that now, looking back I realize that I had simply put up blinders and focused on the little good we had left…

On top of all that, certain events occurred with his family that pushed me to make a decision faster during the last couple months but, none the less, I broke things off and decided that it was up to me to make myself happy, and that I deserved to live my life for me. It was such a strange realization to have. I knew months before we broke up that I was going to break up with him. I had tried a few times before, but every time he’d get so upset that it would scare me so I’d take it back all the while I had moved on or was moving on. By the time we broke up I was fine.

I was hurt because he was upset, but in my heart and in my head our relationship was over two months before it actually was, when his family turned on me as he watched… I thought that once we broke up my stress would be gone, and for the most part it was, I felt so much better, but there was still one thing left. Over the last couple weeks I had developed feelings for another guy. Sure, in my head I can easily rationalize that I was over Brett, but no one other than my family and my closest friends knew that so how was I supposed to respond? What was appropriate?

Would I seem like a total slut if I just started dating this new, amazing guy? Kevin is… wonderful. Just talking to him or seeing the way he looks at me makes me melt and relieves all my stress. He told me that if it took two months before we started dating he was perfectly fine with it, on top of that, he said that even if he waited two months and I decided then that I didn’t want to date him, he would be sad but he would support me because he just wanted me around as his friend at least because he cared about me, and because it helped him to talk to me (his life hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park).

I felt like I could be and do anything around him and he would still think that I was fantastic. I told him that I wanted to wait a while before I dated because I didn’t want to seem like “that girl”. He said ok and we were great with that for a while. He’d walk me to class and give me a hug before he left. Things stayed like that until we were alone working in the music library. I was feeling stressed so I walked up to him and put my forehead on his shoulder. When I pulled back, he kissed me. I thought that I would panic, but I didn’t, actually quite the opposite… I kissed him back.

I wasn’t thinking about Brett or what other people in school might think; in fact I had forgotten that life existed outside of the music library. I just thought about him and me, and how I felt at that moment. I finally felt good. For the first time in months, I felt relaxed and happy. He pulled away and looked at me, he looked nervous, almost like he expected what I had originally expected, but I was fine and I think he saw that because then he kissed me on the forehead and pulled me in for another hug.

I told him that we could hold hands in the hallway but that I didn’t want any PDA in the hallways. He said ok and everything was perfect until I left the library and remembered the rest of the world. My mind started racing and I started to worry about what everyone else thought. We walked out to his bus and we had to wait because it was late. He put his arms around my shoulders and kissed my forehead again. That’s when I realized that no one else’s opinion mattered. I was happy, finally, so why not? A friend asked me if we were dating and I wasn’t sure so I said so, but that I felt good about it.

Yeah, I got a weird look and for a second I was nervous but then I walked back over to Kevin and he put his arm around me. I realized that my friends are my friends and they love me. Yes they’d probably be nervous because it’s not like me to do this, but none-the-less they’d support me. Ever since then I’ve been happy and comfortable. I learned that I should be proud of who I am and of my decisions, and that that shouldn’t change because I broke up with someone because I define me not a relationship and I’ll never make that mistake again. If Kevin and I work out, fantastic.

I’m already crazy about him, but if at any point I find that I’m not happy anymore, I’ll know what I’ll have to do. I need to take care of my heart before I can take good care of someone else’s. More has happened this quarter other than my complicated love life. I’ve made so many new friends. I’ve gained so much more confidence this quarter. Again, I’ve learned that I should be proud of who I am, and that anyone who doesn’t like me, isn’t worth my energy. I’ve always known that but I’ve never backed up that belief with my actions. It was always one of those “easier said than done” sort of things.

I’ve started making other friends and joking around with people I never would have been comfortable doing so with before, and guess what? They joke back, we have fun, and low and behold I was worried about nothing. I’m really coming into my own and it’s only first quarter. I love English class this year. I love that I haven’t proof read a word of this paper yet. I’m just thinking and typing. Later I’ll proof read for grammatical errors but I won’t change anything, because this year I’m able to write my paper like I’m sitting down with you and just talking like I’m used to doing.

I always pour my heart out into these papers because I know that you understand. It’s almost therapeutic. I can get my stress or my worries out on paper and then feel completely relaxed afterward. I’ve decided that if I’m not emotionally affected by what I’m writing in these papers, I’m not writing it very well. I also love that if I want to add a cute clip art you’ll smile and find it cute and not take points off. I love that there are people in my English class that I used to feel shy around but now I feel like it’s nothing.

I can goof off with Ayla an act like an idiot and if their watching, great, I hope I’m entertaining them. My mind set is so much healthier this year. I love how everyone bands together to help everyone with their projects, or to give advice when someone’s upset. We’re like a support system. This paper is so personal, but at the same time, if anyone in the class were to read this I’d feel fine because everyone would be supportive. If you were to randomly say, “Nadine, what song is in your head, sing it. ” I’d have a quick flash of shyness, purely out of being put on the spot but I would get up and do it.

I love how my stress is gone. I feel so much lighter and happier. Everyone seems to notice it, even my co-worker, Will and he at the time didn’t even know what was going on with me. I finished the school year last year knowing exactly who Nadine Pamela Gianopoulos was and then during the summer, somewhere along the way I lost myself. I spent a lot of time during the whole Brett situation brooding over everything to the point where I’d make myself sick. I’d worry so much at night that in the morning I’d be dizzy and get sick or I’d briefly black out a work.

Alarm bells were sounding in my head so I took the blinders off and found myself again. I’m not perfect, I still worry to a degree about what people think when they see me with Kevin, but I’m getting better. This is all new to me and all considering, I’m proud of myself. I feel as though I’ve found myself again and I know where I stand. I know that I’m happy, that I’m healthy, and that I am comfortable with myself. That’s all I can ask for. I’m ready to enjoy my senior year and to let things play out the way they’re meant to. Nadine Gianopoulos

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