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  • Nancy Anne Vincent

Because I Wanted To, Not Because I Had To

Image: September 6, 2020. The beginning of significant reflection and change.

When I was in the fourth grade, I remember I wrote a story, about 6 pages long on blue card-stock paper front to back. The book was written with a brown crayola marker, and 3 hole punches in the left side that had tied bows with Christmas string so it would be like a book. I gave it to my teacher for her to check over and revise, hoping that if I got my teacher to edit it, it would one day become big and get published. But oh was that the imagination of a little fourth grader. When I was a kid I would make books almost every week and would use myself as the main character, as did every kid my age. The stories upon stories that I would write helped me practice a lot of self reflection as a young child.

In middle school, I lost a lot of my love for writing and did not do it as much. I only did it when I was forced to and no longer found myself enjoying it. Writing was a way I was able to get my feelings down because it made me feel like I was talking to someone and they were just there to listen. I fell into bad habits when it came to pleasing people and the way I would talk about others. I remember in the eighth grade our biggest project in English was a poetry project that had to include over 15 hand-written poems. For the assignment there was no baseline on what they could be about, it was all up to you. This was one of the very first times I felt my love for writing come back because I got to write and express in a way in which I didn't usually, which in this case was poetry. It brought me out of my comfort zone and taught me that writing is not limited to a journal entry.

In my sophomore year of high school, the classes I was taking demanded more reading and writing. I am the type of student who always hated reading but loved writing, but I quickly learned I had to practice both. Sophomore year was difficult, it was the beginning of the pandemic and my life and mental state quite literally fell before my eyes. Before I knew it, I was spending every day of my free time over exercising my body, putting myself on strict diets, or not eating at all, and it all resulting in a significant change in my behavior. I was at a period in life where writing certainly was not doing the job, let alone the countless therapy sessions I was attending. I was writing during this time, but not about what I usually would write about. Instead, it was meal plans and exercise plans on how “I can tone my body fast.” All these things completely consumed me. I would grin ear to ear when someone told me how good I looked. I was so happy with how I chose to turn my life around and become “healthy” during COVID. I was proud that I would take long walks in the morning and just drink an iced coffee after. I had never been the type of person to have a scheduled exercise routine, so having a routine like this one really had me thinking I was doing everything right.

I was only doing this because I had gotten to the point where I actually liked the way I looked. I loved it when people told me I looked good in my new skirt, or that my skin looks better. But, on the inside, I was hungry, depressed and an anxious bomb waiting to go off. Needless to say, I was not doing these things because I wanted to. When it became a significant issue that my eating habits were affecting my mental and emotional state, I never had the courage to tell my friends about it until later, although they always knew. I was reluctant to share a story that was about just another teenager struggling with COVID, because I knew I was one among several others going through the same. Several months later, I reached a point of attending regular therapy sessions and walking with my friends or my mom because I wanted to, not because I had to. I was not exercising because I was fearful of the way I looked, instead I was doing it because it made me feel good.

Junior year was when I created my first blog which at the time was Nancy’s Open Diary. This was a big step for me. But, I did not have it in me to publicly share it online because I was still fearful of sharing those things about myself. I was still going through the same struggles and did not feel like people knowing would make it any better. However, the reason I created this blog was because in times when I felt like I had no one to talk to, I always had my writing to turn to. For me, my blog was my way I felt like I was talking to someone when I felt I had no one. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of people, but selfishly I never allowed myself to open up. Nancy’s Open Diary created a place for me where I could write about my struggles, but after time it became a blog that went from sharing my battles, to celebrating them.

With all that being said, I created The Design Diaries to be a place where the hard stuff is talked about, but the good in the world and in life is celebrated. It is a place where I can see my passions for design and fashion put together in writing. This blog is not something that I designed to tell y’all all my trials and tribulations, but a place where I am reflecting and encouraging others to do the same. People have different things that make them happy and keep them going, that makes life all that more fun. I do this because I want to share with others past what social media tells you on the surface. Being real is hard but when I beginn to think of my writing as “talking to someone” it allows for a different outlook. Sometimes when I am writing for my blog, I have to imagine I am doing it on my hole- punched blue card-stock paper and just writing exactly what is on my mind. I hope that for those that might be in a period of anxiety or uncertainty, you would turn to those who encourage you and be present in doing the things you love.

Until next time... Keep redecorating... On the inside and Out... Nancy Anne



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