Sarah: I used to be myself. Funny, trusting, quick to forgive, and happy. But, I used to scowl at people, and hide behind my dad or my humor to avoid talking to them. I was standoffish, and afraid to have people know me. I clung to my friends for dear life, but was always arguing and disagreeing with anyone I could argue and disagree with. I didn’t like school, and then hated it when I switched schools and went to the public junior high. I became an even worse version of myself there, who was more hateful, less trusting, unforgiving, and almost impossible for people to get along with, unless I happened to like them. I thought hating most people and things around me was just the way life was. I stuck to my guns and would do anything for my friends, but I was never happy with myself unless I was playing a sport or working hard. I liked the outdoors, and was mentally tough, but didn’t push myself in anything besides running.
At Link, I finally stopped hating the environment I was in, and discovered that my capacity to love had been expanded until it was bigger than my capacity to hate, but, I’m still not myself. The funny, trusting, forgiving, happy, shy little girl is gone. She has been replaced by a tougher, stronger, more tolerant, less innocent, self-sufficient, grounded, not very forgiving, independent, distrustful young woman who loves life, running, and the outdoors.
Ruth: I was a rock. I was sturdy, grounded, and comfortable with my position. I knew what to expect from myself and people knew what to expect from me. I knew my limits. Perhaps I could be shifted but at my core I was always the same, and proud of it. I was built of things I was certain of, which made me determined and sure of where my path in life would lead.
Now I am a seed. I still know who I am, but also that I can change and grow and be shaped into someone I never imagined. I won’t always be a seed – eventually I’ll grow into something new. My drive no longer comes from self-certainty, but an honest desire to be borne by the wind, because I am confident that I can grow no matter where I land. I am filled with eager potential because there are no limits now. I may be smaller, less secure, but I know now that I’m capable of anything.
Eli: I was insecure but now I have a growing sense of what I want to do in my life and who I am. I really feel secure in the direction that I am heading.
I was a bit wobbly in my movement but now I am on a rock foundation and move with confidence.
I was shy but now I have my voice. With my peers and adults, I have something to say and I can say it.
I was timid but not anymore. I am growing as a whole person.
Beatrice: I was shy and I would always worry about what people thought of me or if they would be talking about me behind my back. I often treated people wrong, I would show my upset instead of hiding it, and I blew my anger on people without even thinking before I took action. A fear for me were thinking that people hated me because I was deaf.
But now I ask my self these questions everyday. Is this the way I want to treat others? Is this the way I want to act around others? Is this the real me?
I wondered to myself how am I going to change this – how am I ever going to be nice, loving, helpful and not full of dirt. Link has really helped me to change my thought, to change my actions and choose my words more wisely. I’m learning to just be the real me, and how to keep my thoughts clear from any worries. I’ve noticed a huge difference when my head is clean from all of that nonsense.
How do I know? I know by the difference in the way I treat others. Before I would engage in conversations not caring if they think that I’m crazy, but now I do care. And lastly I’m learning to just love, to just let my light shine and smile. That’s how I know I don’t have any fear or worries going on through my head.
Link has also helped me raise my grades up. And to start taking classes seriously and use my free time wisely. I now feel confident with myself, I feel like I can make wise choices and make friends without having to worry about anything.
This is my true self.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear”
– I John 4:18
I was fear.
I was afraid of adventure or anything that could hurt me. Fear spent its days reminding me of all the bad that could happen. “You could get hurt,” it said; “Simple living is just easier,” it continued. And I believed it. I spent my days too scared to enjoy and love each moment. The more careful I was, the less there was to hurt me. I would ask myself, “Why don’t I try to change this?” Because I was comfortable with what I was doing. I was comfortable staying at home, watching TV or hanging with my friends, and I didn’t believe I needed to change anything.
That is until I discovered perfect love.
Perfect love showed me what I was too afraid to find myself. Perfect love introduced me to adventure. Adventure showed me that the world is not solely full of danger, but full of new things to explore and discoveries to make. Love taught me to be myself, and led me to the people and the places where I would be supported. Love guided me to my passion, where I feel free of all worries and doubts. Perfect Love cast out my fears and revealed who I truly am.
I am Love, love of adventure, love of challenges, love of discoveries, love of things done, and things still to do. Love has equipped and encompassed me with all it has to offer, and I have willingly accepted it.
Jack: I knew who I was, but now I don’t.
I’ve done things I never thought I would do, never thought I could do. I’ve made people laugh, and I’ve made people cry, and it hasn’t always been the good crying you get when people laugh too much, it’s been the kind that makes me feel terrible afterwards.
If there’s one thing I know I am now, it’s changing and growing.
Before this year I was the kind of person who you saw at school but never ran into them outside of school, who you never just happened to see around town, and the times I did get together with my friends were few and far between. But now I am constantly texting my friends, and trying to hang out with them whenever I go home.
I was so internally focused I never realized how big the world really is, but now, I’m looking out of myself at the rest of the world. I feel Like I’m growing and shrinking at the same time, each time I learn something new, I also learn that there are so many things I don’t know yet, or that I probably won’t ever know, secrets that no one may ever know. Whenever I learn some new skill, pick up some new hobby, I just start meeting people who can do all these amazing things I can’t do yet, or possibly ever. It feels like now, whenever I thought I had reached my goal, whenever I thought I had accomplished something, I would just realize how much farther I really need to go.
I always used to expect myself to be the best at everything I did. I could never accept it when I wasn’t able to perform at least as good as everyone else. I was over competitive and a sore loser. But now I can feel good about losing as long as I tried and did my best.
I was unsure of who I was. But now, I know I’m ok with who I am now, and who I am becoming.
Lois: I used to be a little girl who didn’t really care about what was going on in the world if it didn’t directly affect me. China’s got a major pollution problem. Who cares? I can’t tell. A devastating earthquake in California was just reported. So? I don’t know anyone who lives there. That’s kind of how I felt about everything – if I can’t do anything about it right here right now I don’t care. But now I see the world in a different light. I might not be able to do anything about it right now but I can still know what’s going on and have a real conversation with someone about it. Who knows, maybe in the next few months I’ll start making a difference in some way or another. Sometimes you just never know.
Speaking of not knowing… I used to be terrified of the future. I couldn’t control it in the way I was used to controlling things. Any ideas of what you want to do when you grow up? Who says I want to grow up? Why can’t I just be a kid forever? Where are you going to go to college? Don’t talk to me anymore. * Go and hide in my room trying desperately not to think about what answering that question would mean. * Those where the sort of things I was thinking – and sometimes saying – in those interrogations. I just pushed it away – it’s not here now so I can pretend like it doesn’t exist, I don’t have to think about it. But now I’ve learned how to think and talk about the future. I’m not saying there aren’t still aspects of adult life that freak me out a little, but most of it I can handle now. I can think about future schooling, what professions I might be interested in, where I might want to live.
I’m sure you’ve all met that one kid who says and does pretty much everything that pops into their head. Yeah… that was me not too long ago. Why are you spinning around singing at the top of your lungs during recess? I feel like it. Why did you just tell us about that slightly random connection between the moon phases and you’re summer activities? I don’t know. I just thought of it so I decided to tell you. There were only a few topics that I kept my mouth shut about and a lot of my friends didn’t even know I thought about them at all. In the past year or so I’ve realized “Hey, Lois, sometimes you should just shut up.” Yes, there are still plenty of times when I just ramble on and on without realizing it, but it’s definitely gotten better.
I was always one of the straight As, teacher’s pet kids. I did so well in school it was boring. There was always free time for me to what ever I wanted, and usually I dreamed up crazy adventures for myself. I would wonder what it would be like to go to a “distant land” of speak a different language. I would imagine myself camping out in the middle of nowhere, white water kayaking, skiing and rock climbing more often, etc. but I never thought I’d get to do half of it until last January. Why do you want to come to Link? You guys do amazing things I’ve always wanted to do, and I can challenge myself in school. What have you learned so far this year? I started learning Spanish. Coming here not only let me skip a grade and challenge myself more academically it’s made me realize all my “crazy adventures” weren’t crazy. They’re things I can do if I just go out and try.
Clara: I was unhappy with how I lived – everyday the same as the last. I was disengaged, neither giving nor receiving, but instead constantly wishing I were somewhere else -somewhere where I felt I was encouraged to be the best version of myself.
Why I didn’t push myself to be the person I desired to be regardless of my circumstances? Well, the truth is that there wasn’t anything motivating me to step out of my comfort zone or try new things. Everyday turned into a day where I told myself, “You only have to handle this for a little while longer.” But, rather than convincing myself each day that I only had to wait a little longer to be in a ‘better place,’ I know now I could have been asking myself to engage and do things I was proud of.
There is a passage in “Science and Health” that says, “Gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last [you] finish your course with joy.” This passage has helped me in understanding that love is an ever-present help in my life not just an abstract idea. It has allowed me to engage in my experience here and now. It has helped launch me into a mindset of giving, rather than just seeking to receive. I’ve learned to try new things, love every second in the moment, and not anticipate too much what will happen tomorrow, but rather embrace the gifts of today.
Even though this chapter of my life is coming to a close, (BAM Ssuckers!) I am now seeking new ways to go outside of my comfort zone. I can honestly say that I have finished this part of my life with joy, and that I am ready to move onto the next chapter with the same enthusiasm. Now giving of myself comes easily, and I receive great blessings from giving to others. I’m now able to ask myself to engage fully in every moment, and by doing that I am proud of the person I have become.
Zac: I was selfish; I didn’t care what people had to say and their story even if it was enlightening. I was self-centered, I knew where I was and where I was going and where I wanted to be. These past 7 months have opened my eyes in many different ways, because now I am eager to hear what other people have to say and learn from what they have done.
Also now I am finding out other things I can do that I would love to do. Instead of things that would just make me money and get me through college.
Some other things are that this year I have also been working on being more proactive with my physical fitness and trying to get fit. Maybe most significantly I have worked on my academics and am keeping my grades up beyond what I have done in the past.
Gavin: I was an average person. I was going through school to get to somewhere better but never thought that what came next would match my current experience. I was a small, wimpy, unwilling, self-conscious child, who hid behind his humor, and wanted nothing out of life other than entertainment. I really didn’t care about anything else. I wasn’t motivated to do anything that involved effort unless there were short-term rewards.
Now – although I am far from finished – I am able to see beyond the short term and make an effort to change the long term. I use my humor to openly express myself, instead of hiding behind it. My newfound confidence in myself allows me to show what I have been feeling this whole time, without having to feel stupid doing so. I want more out of life than entertainment. I am no longer that small, wimpy, unwilling, self-conscious child. Now, I’m not-as-small, less wimpy, more willing, not super self-conscious, and a not-so-manly man.
Astrid: This is my final step at Link – to graduate. I find myself sad because this amazing experience is over, but I know it is not the end of adventure. Because of Link I have discovered more about myself and who I can become.
Three years ago I came to Link to try something new and, without knowing it, to push myself to be on my growing edge. I tried new things daily. After one year, I had started to become a new person. I found that I enjoyed rock climbing and eating vegetables. I liked to cook. To my mother’s surprise, I cleaned our kitchen one day because I simply wanted to. My second year was arguably my hardest year. Calculus was the enemy. Hundreds of tears later, I found myself more tenacious and organized. My third and final year, I decided to build a tiny house. Three years ago, I would have never dreamed of building a house, or peaking a mountain because I simply wanted to. They were not in my realm of possibility. Now, they are.
I am no longer lost. I may not have the complete journey mapped out, but I know my next step. Surprisingly, I am okay with only knowing that. I am excited and nervous for what lies ahead, but I know that I can face it. I have learned that I am stronger than I think I am. All I need to do is believe in myself and trust in the Divine.
I Was But Now I Am
I was uncertain about where I was going in life. I didn’t have a direction or purpose
But now I am sure and driven, I have goals that I want to meet in life.
I was flimsy in my decisions, like a blade of grass trying to stand straight in the midst of a tornado
But now I am solid in my decisions, there are no ifs ands or buts about it, I am now a cliff face standing in front of an ocean, the hurricanes will not move me.
I was concerned with what others thought of me and cared too much about it.
But now I am no longer concerned with what others may choose to put on me, not peers nor coworkers nor those in power.
I was beholden to other’s view of me and become the evil people saw….
I was told I was a leader for the discord and disharmony in classes
I was constantly at odds with teachers and administration that said I should be my own person, but then tried to make me fit into a pre-determined mold.
Now I am my own man.
I was told repeatedly I was heading down a path that was stereotypical of adoptees, and would only result in hurting not just myself, but those around me as well. I was told that I was putting my friends in danger of being dragged down to my level. My loyalty and honesty was always in question.
Now I am on my own path, one that is to protect my fellow man.
I was loyal to a fault. I faced massive consequence for my loyalty, it was misplaced, and I didn’t understand what being loyal truly meant.
I thought it meant taking the blame for things my friends did. I relied on the fact that if things got bad enough when whatever the situation was came under investigation my innocence would be proven and they would be left stumped and without someone to blame.
I am still loyal, but I am no longer an enabler.
I was ok with being the one people blamed, I was ok with always being in trouble I considered it normal and considered it a role in life that needed to be filled.
I was excited by the thrill of people always trying to catch me in the act of doing things. I took credit for much more than what I actually did. And yet the more of a reputation I gained the less work I had to do to not be bothered by those I didn’t want to interact with. I knew exactly how each talk with administration would go, I knew what to say to get a certain response or outcome.
I was used to lying and simply saying what people wanted to hear, because it caused less problems, only few ever were told the truth, only few had my respect and my unfailing loyalty.
Now I am a man of Integrity.
I was ok with manipulating people into doing what I wanted. I thought I was justified in what I was doing. I had a system for dealing with teachers that I didn’t like and a way to almost always get out of trouble.
But most unfortunately I was ok with never letting anyone even glimpse my true self, yet alone ever get close enough to truly know me.
I had buried who I was so deep that even I wasn’t sure what that was… I let myself get too wrapped up in what others thought and I was all to eager to become what they saw in me, as long as it wasn’t the truth. I saw letting people get close to me as a problem. It left me vulnerable, and was not something I could afford. I showed false emotion, but kept in all true emotions. I carefully monitored and controlled what I felt I only allowed a certain amount of any emotion to ever have effect on me. I would get frustrated and punish myself when I lost control of my emotions.
I had an incorrect view of what it meant to be a man. I thought you had to be big and strong, and never show fear. I thought that you should never to let emotion show, I thought you had the be feared in order to be respected.
Now I hold myself accountable.
Now I show more of who I am.
Now I Know what it is to be a man.
Now I have my own view of myself….
Now I am confident in who I am and who I want to be.
I am still loyal to few, but that loyalty is based in honesty, based in mutual trust, based on what will last. I understand where the line needs to be drawn and how to truly help my friends instead of simply being an enabler. I know that I am headed down a path that leads to a life of honesty, of integrity, of service, of honor, and most of all… a life based in love for my fellow man.
Now I am determined to never have my integrity questioned, to never be doubted ever again.
Now I am a Man of Integrity. Integrity in all things, but most importantly in myself. I no longer force myself to ignore or denounce emotion, instead embrace it, acknowledge it , feel it, let it become a part of who I am.
I am no longer Sam Davis, the kid who lies, hurts others, manipulates, enables.
I am Sam Davis, Link School Graduate, Man of Integrity, Man of Compassion and Empathy.