To The Girl I Was Freshman Year

Written by Sage Enderton

To The Girl I Was Freshman Year,

    You were so confused by everything around you. For the first time in your life, you were going to a new school; you'd been at the same school with the same class for eight years and now it was being ripped away from you. It was decided both by your choosing and because it was mandatory: this is high school now. You were going to be in the big leagues. At least you got to pick your team.

    You were fourteen and you had half of your head shaved, and out of fear you impulse-dyed your hair purple. You will regret this for many, many months, even a few years maybe. They couldn't find your schedule and you were late to first period biology on your first day of high school. You walked in sweating.

    Your classes were so much harder than you thought they might be. Your algebra teacher sucked, and the only thing you understood in her class was the girl who sat next to you; she would count how many pens she could stick in her hair before they all fell out. You didn't understand biology either. You aren't proud of it, but you copied quite a few of those worksheets from online. You were disappointed in yourself for weeks.

    You barely had any friends. You felt disgusting, all the time. You didn't fit in, not with anyone. You weren't the gifted child student anymore. You were average, below average even. This was smart kid school and you weren't even close to the top.

    I wish you could have known how things would turn out; I think you would have been much easier on yourself. You could have used that during those first 100-something days. You aren't out of there quite yet- you've got a year to go still- but things are looking up. The air you breathe in those hallways is so much easier to take in now. You aren't gasping for breath in every classroom, waiting for the air supply to come back on. You are learning and growing slowly and I am so proud of you, always. You lean on those you love. You have a lover, a boyfriend that brings you Chinese candy from his third period class every day, and a best friend- she goes out to movies late at night with you and lets you share her clothes the next morning as though you both inhabit the same body.

    You know what you want to do now. You know how to get it done. You want to go to Barnard. You want to go to the city. The city. The Big ‘ol Apple. You want to study English and Women + Gender Studies, and you want to change the world. You want to feel bigger, make a big change, because you've gotten so sick of feeling so small. You can do it. I know you can. You have too much goodness and too much dedication in your heart to let go of that aspiration. You write thank you cards to the teachers no one likes but you appreciate. You listen to your friends talk about boy problems and pollution and what they all want to do. You write poem after poem and you create collages at midnight. You find clearance records on sale for a dollar and spend five on coffees instead. You kiss your baby sister goodnight and text your dad prom pictures, and you know that this is what it means to thrive. To be a part of something, a multitude of somethings. To live.

Go on.

Live.

 Photo by Mitchell Podgorny

Photo by Mitchell Podgorny

Sage Enderton is a queer poet from Buffalo, New York. She has had her writing published in literary works like Peach MagazineMy Next HeartThe Buffalo Anthology, and Wordplay. Along with her writing, Sage creates her own zines focusing on feminist and queer rights and has an interest in photography. As she begins winding down for her very last year of high school, you can often find her studying her butt off over an iced coffee at a local café. You can find her on instagram at @skenderton !

Chelsea Francis