Hey all, I realize it's been a while since I last updated this thing (3 years, to be exact!) so I figured I'd give it another go and try keeping you up date with what I've been working on at college, as well as filling you all in on the happenings in my life.
First off, I'm a Sophomore in her last semester of the academic year. Scratch that, a rising Junior. Whoa. How the hell did that happen and where did the time go? So much has happened in so little time, so I apologize in advance for how long this is gonna be. I'm long winded with my writing to begin with, and I don't possibly think I could cover EVERYTHING that has happened thus far... but I'll try my best! Thanks to those of you who kept in touch or continued to believe in me-- things were rough back in 2015, but now they're looking better than ever! And I hope to share a little taste of what I've been doing, what I've been creating, and most importantly, how I've grown as not only an artist, but an individual as well. <3
Rewind back to 2015 (remember my "Feelings" journal entry on here? Yeah, pretty sad) when everything was going wrong and I was at what felt like rock bottom. I had just graduated high school, I was accepted into my dream college to pursue a degree in Computer animation, I had a full time job for the summer, things were looking great! What could I possibly be upset about? Trust me, a lot of things. In just three months, I'd be leaving all my friends I've grown up with since 1st grade in order to pursue my dream of being a computer animator. The dreaded transition, the coming of age, the movement into what we all unfortunately know as adulthood. It was a scary time, an exciting time, and everything-time: So many emotions all at once. I'd be the very first person in my family to pursue a higher education and go to college (no pressure or anything), I'd be starting with a completely clean slate; new friends, new location, new life, new me. So during the first month or so, I tried my best to do everything i could to keep my mind off things. I spent as much time as I could with my friends, got in as many hours at work as I possibly could-- things were going well and it seemed to be working for a while. But then the first thing happened: Relationships (or at least what I thought was a healthy relationship).
There was a guy at work who I had been crushing on for a while; not only was he handsome, but hardworking as well. Somehow (through connections between my mom and his grandmother) we began talking and before I knew it, we had our first "date" set up at the local Starbucks. I was so excited. I went through the usual thought process of "what do i wear? I hope i don't look stupid or mess this up." We got our Starbucks, had a nice casual conversation to get to know each other, he even wanted me to show him some of my artwork! I was happy he seemed genuinely interested in me. But that's when he took it a step further and tried to turn things sexual. I never had a relationship with anyone before, so naive me gave in. We didn't have sex, but got intimate in other ways. I wanted that affection from someone, that validation that I simply wasn't getting from anyone else. I was desperate to feel something other than that overwhelming anxiety and depression that had been consuming my life, and so I turned to relief through intimacy with someone I wasn't even dating. After the "date", things felt great. Him and I continued to talk and have more "hangouts", which eventually progressed into meet-ups just for the sole purpose of getting intimate with one another. He finally convinced me to have sex with him; I was a virgin. We still hadn't brought up the idea of officially dating, and I stupidly didn't take a second look at how wrong and messed up it all was. I was oblivious to the fact that would later become so painstakingly obvious-- that this guy had ulterior motives, and only wanted sex from me. He didn't give a damn about me or my ambitions, or how kind I was to him-- he took advantage of it. And when I finally realized that, almost after half a year of on-and-off-again hook-ups and being continuously lied to, it broke me. My self esteem was lower than it had ever been before, I felt worthless and unworthy of love, ugly, etc. How could I have been so stupid? It should've been obvious, but it wasn't. I just wanted someone to love me so badly. And I thought I had found that one person who could-- but I was wrong.
It was now first semester of my Freshman year, 2015. After a lot of persuasion from my roommate (who is now one of my closest friends), family and friends, I made the tough decision to cut him off and move on with my life. Why keep someone so toxic within range? While it was a huge relief at the time, I still was shocked to find that he lingered in the back of my mind. I had a very difficult time letting go. In fact, I didn't want to. So in just a month after blocking him, I relapsed, and ended up maintaining contact with him through Snapchat. He of course, only messaged me when he wanted something like revealing pictures or anything. Never asked how I was doing, how college was, nothing. And do you know what I did? I complied with his demands. All because of a former love for him, now turned into an unhealthy obsession that consumed my life. I did anything I could, anything he wanted, in order to just keep him close to me in some way. I knew deep down that it was stupid, unhealthy, and borderline insane, repeatedly going back to someone who treated me like absolute shit. But what else did I have? Who
else did I have? Even if it was pretending to care, it still somehow filled the void that I was living with. And I convinced myself that I was okay with that. I lowered my standards; something I should have never done to begin with. Things kept on going like this, even through Winter break when I was home from college. We even hooked up again, in my hope that it would reignite some sort of spark between us. But I was wrong again, and was back to where I was during the summer before college started.
Spring semester quickly rolled around, and I wanted nothing more than to get out of my home state, away from him, away from all the negative feelings that I grew to associate with home. In the airport while waiting for my departing flight, I received a notification from the Tinder app that had been dormant in my phone for quite some time. "You have been Super Liked!" I felt that rush of excitement again and opened the app to find a guy about my age, trying to start a conversation with a simple "Hi c:" He wasn't in college, wasn't drop dead gorgeous, but he wasn't unattractive either; I thought nothing much of it and replied back to him. Then, what was short 2-sentence messages back and forth to each other, soon became paragraph after paragraph of conversations. Things really seemed to click between him and I, and eventually after not even a week of talking through Tinder, we agreed to meet in person for the first time. And when we did, it was like we were long lost friends. We talked about anything and everything, laughing together, exploring the beauty of downtown Sarasota. He took me to see the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, took me out to dinner, and eventually back to his neighborhood to take a walk around the central pond. It was around 11 PM now, and we were still as energetic and happy with each other as ever. Then he asked me out, and I said yes-- while I wanted someone to love, and love me in return, this was also the first time I felt such a strong connection with someone. It didn't feel one-sided for once, and that made me happier than words could describe. Days turned into weeks, which turned into months of being together-- it felt like what I'd imagine a newlywed couple would be like. We were living in absolute bliss, looking forward to seeing each other every weekend after the stresses of work and classes. Time seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, Freshman year was over. It was time for me to go back home, and so I had to make a decision with the guy I was dating. Did we want to make long distance work for the three months I would be back home, or would it be too much? We agreed to keep dating and continue our relationship "forever and always", something we'd always say, even at the beginning stages of our relationship. Looking back on it, we moved into dating extremely fast; again, I was oblivious and only wanted love. What we'd built up over those 6 months together, I thought would keep us as close as ever, and prevent anything from getting between us. Boy was I wrong.
1st month into Summer break, things were going well-- my boyfriend and I were videochatting frequently and typing the usual paragraph conversations back and forth, like I wasn't even away in the first place. Returning to Florida could not come soon enough. Then out of the blue, I received a Snapchat message from someone I thought I had finally forgotten about. Remember the first guy from the beginning of this journal entry? Yeah. He contacted me, asking how I was doing. A million red flags went up inside my mind; "I shouldn't even be talking to him. What could he possibly want?" Before I knew it, he had asked me if I wanted to hang out and catch up on things. Thinking this would be a good opportunity to settle things once and for all, and end it to give us both closure, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life; I said yes. Not only that, but agreed to meet up with him at the local park. It was around 7 PM, slightly before sunset. I had already planned to hang out with my friends prior to this, but for some reason, found it more important to get this closure that I never had the chance to find. So I bailed on them without my parents knowing, and went to meet up with him instead. Things were going well at first, casual talk. He made the occasional comment on how good I looked; then he broke the question of wanting to have sex. I was mortified, shocked, and oddly enough, surprised. Why did I think he'd changed after all this time? I was frozen to the spot I had been standing in; I couldn't move, I was scared, and even a little hurt that he'd ask such a thing after all he put me through. Before I knew what was happening, he forced himself on me. I was sexually assaulted.
After all was said and done, he drove away and I was sitting alone in my car, crying hysterically. How could I have let this happen? All I wanted was to finalize things between him and I, I never asked to be sexually assaulted. But it happened, and I couldn't take any of it back. I felt horrible, disgusting, and so so stupid. What was I going to tell my boyfriend? What would he think? The only thing I had on my mind was getting back to my friend's house, so my parents wouldn't wonder where I was and catch me in the lie. Of course, it was dark, around 10 PM. I needed the GPS to get directions, and my phone lost signal. So instead of wandering around aimlessly, I went back to the supermarket where I worked and parked there, trying to get signal. Suddenly, a red car that looked strangely like my dad's pulls up next to me-- sure enough, it was him. He was furious, and things got ugly, even physical. Even worse when I went home with him to my mom, who was equally as upset. They didn't believe me when I told them he sexually assaulted. They called me horrible, horrible things. Put all the blame on me. Things got so bad, to the point where my parents kicked me out of the house and I stayed with my closest friend that night. The very next day, my parents contacted me and asked if I had told my boyfriend what had happened. I was in too much shock and hysteria to have even thought about what I was going to say to him. They threatened that they would tell him if I didn't soon-- so I messaged him asking to talk, and since he was currently at work, we agreed to call each other later that night. When that time came, I called him, only to find out that my dad had contacted him and told him that I cheated. I was devastated that I didn't get the chance to tell him the entire story first. And because of that, I feel like he didn't believe what I told him afterwards. He too, blamed me during the time when I needed support the most. Even through the blaming however, it still seemed that he loved me, and wanted to give me another chance. He said "I accept your apology. But you need to focus on you and get better." So we agreed to cease all contact for a month until I had gotten sufficient counseling sessions. It's sad, that like most sexual assault cases, the victim is always to blame. I was just one of millions who went through this. No one to believe me, no one to hold me and say that "his decision to assault you was not your fault." While I made the mistake of even putting myself in that position, nothing gave him the right to do what he did to me. Nothing
warrants sexual assault.
I continued to stay at my friend's house for a month or so. During that time, I focused on getting better, attending frequent counseling and therapy sessions to get better. To help myself heal from all that had happened, and all that I had been holding in for the past few years. I wanted so badly to message my boyfriend, but I promised myself that I wouldn't until I was strong enough, and got the answers I needed. Soon a month passed, and I wrote up an apology letter for him, combined with everything that I had learned about myself from counseling. At the end, I asked for a second chance, and for us to move on. About a week passed until I heard back from him, and it wasn't even directly to me. He responded through my dad, saying that he no longer wants anything to do with me. I was heartbroken that he could give up on us so easily after all we had been through before all this, especially when I was trying so hard to fix myself and get better so we could be happy again. Again, I didn't want to accept the story of us ending. I cried, begged, and pleaded for him to talk to me. We could work things out. But he never gave that to me. He never even talked to me on the phone. The break-up was through text message. After everything I had been through, after everything WE had been through, it was over. Just like that. And that took a toll on me well into the first semester of my Sophomore year, especially going back to Sarasota where all the places we had gone were located. It made me cry every time I saw a familiar place, heard a familiar song, even a familiar smell. It hurt, so so much. To try and help myself cope, I recorded an hour-long video of me talking about everything I had gone through, much like this journal entry (just in video format) and uploaded it to my YouTube channel, xLostSunrise. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Two weeks into the new semester, I get a message from my ex saying that he had seen the video, and couldn't express how sorry he was for what he did to me. How he left me in my time of need, selfishly refusing to believe me. He wanted to try and work things out, and meet up where we first met. Still not completely over my feelings for him, I agreed and we met at the Burger King right next to campus. We talked things over for a good hour, had a few laughs, and by the end, it was like we had never even separated. We were happy, together again, and we wanted to move on from this (or so I thought.) We even went on a date again, out to lunch and saw a movie, went for a drive, all the old stuff we used to do. Two weeks later, he calls me and says that he hasn't been honest with me. He says that he only reconnected with me and got back together because he felt guilty-- he didn't love me anymore. That day, something in me broke, emotionally. I had been through so much already, and had hoped so badly that somehow, things would work out between him and I. But they weren't meant to be. He hung up the phone, and I broke down in tears, right on the campus plaza. I didn't give a damn if anyone saw or heard me-- I was too upset to care.
As if that weren't enough, classes were getting tougher and tougher. Us Computer Animation students were making the transition from traditional art making to digital, including learning complex 3D modeling software. It was a lot for me to handle given everything that had happened over the past year, and I feel like that helped me realize another shocking thing about myself: Computer Animation was not what I wanted to do anymore. My interest in the projects slowly decreased, as did my creativity and drive to do anything related to them and art, really. All the while however, I kept telling myself “You’re already this far in. Just push through. Don’t quit now. Everyone is depending on you, don't let them down.” So I did. For the next month, I pushed through each project, finishing assignments just barely by the deadlines. All the while, this was at the expense of my overall health and happiness—which quickly spiraled downward. I began deliberately missing classes, dreading them each day. It got to the point where it took every ounce of my being to simply get out of bed and do daily routine things, like going to the bathroom and eating. My weight decreased, and so did my motivation for everything. I became incredibly sick. I was eventually recommended to a local psychiatrist, where I was evaluated and diagnosed with severe depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. With the combined help of my close friends, parents, and counselors, I made the difficult decision to medically withdraw from Ringling College of Art and Design.
This was a frightening time for me. What was I going to do with my life? Was my career as an artist over? It felt like I had lost myself. After all, I had told myself along with everyone else for the past 18+ years that I was going to be this big shot animator. I felt that I had disappointed everyone and failed not only them, but myself as well. All that invested money, all of my artistic endeavors up until now-- wasted. "Now what?"
After being put on antidepressant medication and therapy for several weeks, I finally came to the realization that the depression and all the recent events had clouded my mind. It was a blessing in disguise of sorts, that told me that animation was not the right path for me. I realized I couldn’t give up art. It was my whole life up until now. It wasn’t a career in the world of art that was the wrong choice-- it was a career in computer animation. That was when I picked myself up and made the decision to switch my major to Illustration, and continue my education at Ringling. I reapplied as an Illustration major at the beginning of spring semester 2017, and was accepted for a second time, after compiling an entirely new portfolio. Now, it’s Spring Semester of 2018. 1 year later. And I couldn’t be happier where I am. I'm creating things I never even dreamed I would, and the best part is? I'm happy with who I am and where I'm going, what I'm doing. I feel like it's getting me somewhere, and I feel like it's finally paying off. I've made another group of friends in my new major, found someone I've been going steady with for 6 months, and am overall happy with my art, and myself for the first time in ages. Every now and then, people will ask why I “quit animation”, as if it were a bad thing. But here's the thing: It's not. In switching over to Illustration, I regained my passion for creating art; that spark that drives my desire to create. Something I had lost when I forced myself to believe that animation was the path for me, on top of being distracted with other personal things going on in my life. To this day, I don’t regret making that decision-- and I know I made the right choice.
If you take away anything away from this post today, it’s the fact that anything can happen in such a short amount of time. You can go through hell and back again and again with relationships, school, friends, anything at all. But that doesn't mean you can't bounce back and take your life back into your own hands. Keep fighting, and hold onto faith that one day, things WILL get better, no matter how difficult and dark things might seem. I still have a long ways to go, but I'm focused on making each day better and working towards what I've wanted my whole life. You should always do what you love. I’m not here to preach to you, or tell you that you need to do what you’re currently doing for the rest of your life. But rather, I’m here today to inspire you to do what YOU love. And even more so, It’s okay to be unsure of what you want to do. It’s okay to lose your way. Take that time to discover yourself. Do it for you, and no one else. Not your parents, friends, lovers, professors, or classmates. Something my dad always told me was: “Work is play if you love what you do.” And growing up, I never knew what this meant. But after my roller coaster ride of an experience last year, I can finally, wholeheartedly say that I understand. No career, person, or education, is worth sacrificing your overall happiness and well-being. And most importantly, nothing is worth losing yourself, or your passion.