Ten years ago, I sat at a table in a small cafe surrounded by three generations of my close-knit family. As I stared into the candle that flickered between us, I knew something was brewing–I was turning 16, and I knew it was going to be a big year. Things had been changing so quickly for me, in my home, in my life, and in my soul. Not all those changes were comfortable: the friends I’d had since childhood were starting to drift apart, my family was undergoing a sort of reconstruction, and my health was still in decline. But there was a lot to be excited about too, like my plans to apply to art school, my newly-cultivated interests and hobbies, and an expanding group of like-minded friends that accepted me for who I was instead of who I had been as a kid. My sense of style was evolving, becoming more reflective of my burgeoning personality. I was downloading music from the Sisters of Mercy, London After Midnight, and the Cure, all bands that were new to me at the time. I was in the throws of my first love, an affair that would open my eyes to previously unfathomable highs and equally astonishing lows all in a whirlwind year-and-a-half. Sixteen was going to be my biggest year yet and ultimately, the year that defined much of who I am as a person today.
My life has always been a series of deaths and rebirths. As a child, I had only seen what seemed to be the horribly unfair breakdowns, but at sixteen I began to understand that those cataclysmic collapses were a necessary part of the improvement process. If nothing ever fell apart, we would have no reason to grow as individuals. I was beginning to explore my spirituality, laying aside a fairly traditional Roman Catholic upbringing in favor of new age religions that fell in line with my individual belief system. I added books by Alastair Crowley, Allan Kardec, and Margot Adler to my studies. The entire world was alive with magic.
At the same time, my appearance became as much of an art as the drawings I compulsively produced. I was asserting my independence through miniskirts and colored tights, platformed mary-janes and neon cat collars. My eyeliner was a feat of dexterity, winged out to my temples and often swirled down around my cheekbones. Hilarity aside, it was a major stride towards my personal aesthetic that I had never previously explored. Sure, I had perused fashion magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms and bookstore cafes, but I had never really taken a personal interest in them. At sixteen, I began not only looking, but buying magazines from New York, the UK, Japan, and Italy to feed my flirtation with fashion.
It’s hard to believe a full decade has passed. The person I am today can be directly traced to that sixteen-year-old and all the radical changes that were brewing inside her. Today feels less like my birthday and more like an anniversary of who I became–a magical, independent spirit who looks forward more than back. And I feel like twenty-six is going to be just as big as sixteen.This year, I’m going to manifest my own destiny instead of waiting for it to happen to me. I’m going to take all my wild Sagittarian desires into my own hands to make them a reality–the world is waiting, and I refuse to disappoint. I’m rededicating myself to the destiny I want, rather than surrender to the reality that people expect. I’m casting off the skins of hopelessness that have weighed me down for years and adopting new can-do colours. Anything is possible if you really want it, and trust me, I want it. It might have taken me another ten years to realize that was true, but everything happens in its own time. Now is mine.