What Good Amid These?

“O me! O life! Of the questions of these recurring:

of the endless trains of the faithless,

of cities fill’d with the foolish,

of myself forever reproaching myself (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?).

What good amid these? O me! O life!

The answer:

That you are here, that life exists, and identity.

That the powerful play goes on,

And you may contribute a verse.”

I can write an essay on pretty much any academic topic you could conjure up, but, ask me to write a piece on myself, I get stuck. Leave it to me to unnecessarily overcomplicate the easiest topic in the world.

And I guess this is because of a number of reasons. I’m only 17, after all. At this point in my life, my personality hasn’t quite set yet. On any given day, I wear several different “hats”. Some days I feel like a cynical 45-year-old, middle aged corporate pawn. Other days I feel like a peaceful 80-year-old woman, nodding in acceptance after coming to terms with her reality. Some days, I’m a Pinterest-scouring, Martha-Stewart-channeling domestic housewife. So you see, I’m still trying to develop the concept of who I am. Who knows, maybe I’m all of these things. Maybe I’ll conclude one day that I’m none of these things.

But, I guess I could give it a try anyways:

My name, in all of its two-syllable glory, is Taylor. I was born on March 11th, 1997 in Birmingham, Alabama, where I was raised. I’m a Pisces. I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a student.

Like many, I love learning but I hate school.

Like many, I believe my taste in music is far superior to anyone else’s.

Like many, my life has been a bittersweet cocktail made up of equal parts triumph and tragedy.

I’m not dismissing the triumphs, because they are really marvelous and should never be taken for granted. Nor am I implying that we are victims or that we are what has happened to us. I’m simply saying that sometimes, whether we like it or not, the tragic parts in our lives have a massive impact on who we are. And that’s okay. It took me a long time to realize that.

When I was eight years old, I was watching That’s So Raven in the living room when I heard the gun go off in the bedroom across the hall, and the frantic screaming that ensued. I had misheard my mother at first when she screamed “Daddy shot himself in the head.” My grandfather, who had suffered from schizoaffective disorder his whole life, had decided to put an end to his life.

There’s a weird kind of grief and searing hollowness that follows a suicide. It feels “up in the air”, it lacks closure. There’s no peace. Everything feels sort of in limbo. It’s the most devastating of deaths because it leaves such damage behind. I don’t think my grandfather ever really understood how much he was needed and loved and cherished.
Unfortunately, his passing was only my first encounter with the effects of mental illness. My mother has PTSD, OCD, and a Panic Disorder as a result of that day. My Aunt struggles with bulimia in her late 40s. My best friend tried to take her own life my sophomore year. In my junior year, she succeeded.

It just seems like mental illness is one of the recurring themes in my life story. I can’t necessarily get away from it, and believe me I don’t go seeking it out. I think it was just the hand I was given.

So: “What good amid these? O me! O life!”

The answer?:

My story has molded me into who I am today:

It’s the reason why my motto is “If you need anything, let me know.”

It’s the reason why I try so hard to get people to smile.

It’s the reason why I pass out compliments like candy (although I always keep actual candy on hand just in case someone has a bad day).

It’s the reason why I never hesitate to tell someone that I love them and that I’m here for them.

It’s the reason why I listen so intently.

It’s the reason why I so fervently try to help others realize how important and cherished they are.

If my life up to this point has taught me anything, it’s taught me compassion and the priceless value of a human life.

And, it’s taught me just how blessed I really am.