Writer / Storyteller
These Dr. Marten sneakers are tattered and torn. They won’t hold up through the next phase of my life, but they walked with me through this one.
When I came to college five years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do. My junior year was when I finally hit my stride. I knew what I wanted to do in the world. I started writing for my school’s newspaper, identified as a writer, made meaningful relationship choices, and found myself at the forefront of yet another new beginning. I was overwhelmed by the future I could see coming at me, and for once in my life, I very intentionally engaged in retail therapy. My former roommate and I took a bus to the mall and each got a new pair of shoes, hers white, and mine black.
When we left the small store in the mall that day, I remember looking out at the sunset, feeling like I was on the verge of something meaningful, a new path. I have that same feeling budding within me today, a week from my undergraduate commencement ceremony. I’ll graduate with a B.S. in journalism and American Indian studies, two very different fields that taught me the shared value of storytelling.
As I tell my story today, it’s that of an underdog. Someone who thought about escaping her undergraduate education not one, but one thousand times. I was sure that I was yet another person who “wasn’t cut out for the system,” but there were voices internally and externally that pushed me to continue on. Voices of family members who loved me. Voices from within, that also came from a place of love and hope. I was wrong about not being cut out for education, in a sense. You have to make the system work for you, or work outside the lines.
I’m at yet another one of my life’s impasses, like the one I could feel coming on that day outside the mall. I’ve come to the end of this life stage, and so have my shoes. You can see it in their soles. They’re beaten and worn, but sturdy. They had to be, they’re the shoes of a warrior. Their journey ends here—but they carried me all the way to this impasse, and saw all the battles and victories in between.