A letter to my 22 year old self.

It’s hard for me to imagine what must be happening in your life. 6 years is quite a long time for someone my age.

So how are you?

Have you finished art school? Please tell me you are at least at art school. I hope you haven’t lost track of your passion. You better not have settled for some boring medical degree. Don’t kid yourself, you and I both know that you’ll never feel content doing that. So if your not at film school make sure you really think about the choices you’ve made. Are you where you’re at because you want to be there or because mom and dad want you there.

Speaking of mom and dad, how are they? Is mom deaf yet? Because lord knows she practically there already! Is she still working? Has she given up coloring her hair yet? How about dad? What was it like when he retired? How annoying was it to have him home for all of senior year? I hope you still talk to them. Don’t be one of those adults who ships their parents off to an old people home. Even though they weren’t the kindest to you, they are your parents. Remember that.

How’s Drew? Let’s see he’ll be about 25 now. Make sure you keep in touch with him. I know that the way you guys communicate is through being jerks to each other but you love him. And he loves you. Remember a few weeks ago when you were saying good night and you said you loved him and he responded, “same I guess.” Be there for him. Let him know you believe in him. Let him know he can do it. Whatever it may be.

I was about to ask how Fawn is but I can’t imagine she’ll still be alive. An 18 year old dog is highly improbable but hey who knows? If you have your own dog I hope you named it Jeffrey. You always wanted a dog named Jeffrey.

Nikki Robinson

Note: I wrote this almost a year ago with the goal of it being a sort of time capsule and I had always intended on adding more to it but I suppose now it’s been long enough that I would like to leave it as is- existing in its slightly disjoint, completely unfiltered, and half-finished beauty.

Another 1:00am existential crisis.

I’m lying in bed and I’m hearing that old familiar voice again telling me I’m not good enough. And you see normally I can silence it and go to sleep but tonight the voice seems much more prominent.

In general, I like to think that I’m pretty confident and self assured. I make a conscious effort to develop my own sense of self identity and to love myself but I often struggle with feeling useless.

And I just don’t get why.

Do I really think that I’m never going to accomplish anything with my life? No of course not. I’m way too determined to give up on my dreams that so many have told me are very unlikely and far fetched.

But maybe that’s just it.

I don’t feel like I’ll never live up to my own standards. I fear that I won’t live up to other people’s standards.

That voice in my head could be my mom saying that art isn’t a real career. Or my dad saying my grades aren’t good enough. Or any other voice of rejection, disapproving or doubt.

And to those people I say “put a sock in it!”

But that’s just one face of the multi headed beast of self doubt.

I think there’s a small part of me that’s afraid of success. I know that sounds weird but I guess I’ve gotten comfortable with these thoughts. If thoughts of uselessness and incompetency were human then they would be that friend that you don’t really like but still hang out with because you always have.

Doubt is my blanket and I am Linus from Peanuts. It makes me feel safe and comfortable.

So I suppose I have come to a sleepy conclusion.

Do I really feel like I’ll never amount to anything or am I afraid of what’ll happen when i believe that I can?

Nikki Robinson

Changing Seasons

I’ve reached a point.

And I’m not quite sure what this point is right now.

But I know in a few years time I’ll look back at right around this time and I’ll know that this was a point in my life where I sort… Sort of changed seasons I suppose.

I’m coming out of a time where I my motivations and intentions were not in my best interest.

And I’m coming out of I time where I guess I really just wasn’t being who I really was.

And I’m sure there’s a John Green quote out there that puts it in a much more eloquent way than I can, but I guess I’m just changing seasons.

You see, the leaves that I wear are no longer artificially attached to me to make me look like the perfect plant that everyone would want to have.

I am growing and I am growing naturally.

I am growing independently and I’m growing strongly.

I am growing to look the way I want and I’m growing to do what I please.

Most importantly I’m not growing for someone else anymore.

I am growing into a complete person who knows what she likes and is rooted in her identity.

I guess now, I’m just growing for me.

Nikki Robinson

“Friendship Reimagined (“Scared of Lonely”)”

I woke up at 6am this morning unable to sleep. So instead of lying in bed torturing myself with insomnia I decided to get up. I went to the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea then headed downstairs with my handmade leather journal and my iPad.

I’ve recently started listening to these podcasts on my iPad. They’re recordings of talks given by this campus pastor from South Carolina named Sammy Rhodes. I’ve been really enjoying them because first of all Sammy is quite funny, but second of all I really love the way he makes the bible so applicable to actual life.

So I sat down in the recliner chair and curled up in a blanket. Side note: I made myself a new type of tea this morning and good lord it smelled amazing. Alright, back on topic. I put in my headphones and opened up my journal to the nearest page so I could take notes on the podcast. I pressed play on the next podcast I had downloaded entitled “Friendship Reimagined (“Scared of Lonely”)”.

Sammy started off by talking about how the two things humans long for most are to be loved be someone and for someone to know our stories. However, while we are so desperate for friends we are also terrified at the idea of friendship. You see, many of us, myself included, are afraid that if someone really knew us they wouldn’t love or accept us.

But we need to be known. We need people to know our whole stories. In Genesis 3, God says that it is not good to be alone and therefore makes Adam a companion, aka Eve. Since the beginning of time humans have needed companionship.

Then Sammy continued to state the four reasons we need friends. The first was affirmation. We need people to love us and make us feel accepted. Next was confrontation. As flawed people we need friends who love us enough to tell us when we’re wrong. We need people who will kindly point out our destructiveness, even when we don’t want to hear it. The next reason we need friends is that we need to be understood. We need someone who gets us. A true friend is someone who understands your personality and what you’re interested in. And lastly we need fellowship. At the core, friends are people who we can be around. Our friends are the people we can go through life with and they love being with us.

Sort of the main idea is that good friends always let you in and never let you down.

For me I’ve found the “never let you down” aspect to come a lot more naturally. I tend to try hard to make sure I’m a loyal friend because coming from a family dynamic that is quite the opposite, I understand the need for consistency and loyalty.

However what I think I struggle with is the “good friends always let you in” part. Ever since I can remember I’ve always been terrified of getting too vulnerable with people. As Sammy said many of us have the “fear that if someone knew the real you, they would run the other way”. And I think that’s just it. I have a fear that people wouldn’t want to be around me if they saw me in my weakest. Because, ladies and gentlemen: I am flawed. Wow big shocker. But it’s true. We’re all completely screwed up, yet all of is feel like sharing our weaknesses will cause people to run the other way. Why is that? I know that for me I like seeing people be vulnerable. It makes me feel like they trust me and it helps me see them as that much more if a deep and dynamic person. So clearly being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing. Yet, I have parts of me that not even my best of friends have seen.

So I guess that’s my challenge- to let people in. I’m not quite sure how to start, but like many things in life, I guess it’s a process. Because I really want to be a good friend.

“good friends always let you in and never let you down.”

-Nikki Robinson

PS- This should link you to the podcast: http://rufatgsu.buzzsprout.com/81.rss

My mind poem (part 1)

My mind.

My mind always moving, always thinking, never stopping.

My mind goes everywhere.

There’s nothing off limits in my mind.

You see, I notice.

I notice things. I notice everything.

I notice the absence of a book on my shelf.

I notice that the girl I pass in the hall after 6th period got a haircut.

I notice the sound of dryer getting a little bit slower which means it’s going to go off soon and if don’t tell someone to get their laundry out then its going to sit there and wrinkle and if it wrinkles then Mom will be upset and then we’ll have to wash it again and then the cycle starts again and it never stops.

You see, my mind doesn’t stop.

 

I tread lightly through life to spread kindness.

I have spent the last week and a half pulling my hair out trying to figure out my personal philosophy. And I think I’ve finally got it. The thing is I wanted to believe in some big dramatic grand purpose for life. Yet I really  don’t believe the key to a fulfilling life is being independent, or leaving a profound impact, or being super well liked. To me a life lived fully looks like a middle age woman allowing her daughter’s best friend stay at her house when things are too difficult at home, or an elderly hall monitor at a small town high school who makes sure that every single kid who walks through the doors feels welcome, or an 8 year old boy with a terminal illness determined to make the sad, lonely teenage girl across the hall from him laugh. None of these people changed the world. None of these people did extraordinary things. Yet the world is just a bit better because of them.

It’s the small acts of everyday kindness that allow us to access fulfillment. There’s a story of Nelson Mandela where he stopped to help a white woman fix her broken down car on the side of the road. She offered to pay him and he responded by saying, “I am only too happy to help” and refused to accept (Paramaguru). He knew that by the small act of helping that woman with her car he could show kindness and improve her life. In May of 2002 while speaking at Walter Sisulu’s 90th birthday celebration, Mandela stated, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead” (Mandela). This has been a guiding principle throughout my life. I don’t want to spend my life just existing for petty pleasures- I want to help others. I want at least one person to be able to say their life is a bit better because of the positive impact I had on them. That is true fulfillment.

In a TED talk, by psychologist Martin Seligman, he discusses how to live a happy life. He talks about how happiness can be found through either acts of fun or philanthropy. It has been scientifically proven that the happiness and sense of fulfillment reached through philanthropic actions lasts much longer (The New Era of Positive Psychology). This proves how important it is that we as humans try to help others. In the summer of 2012 I went on a trip to Alabama to partner with Habitat for Humanity to serve victims of the tornado destruction. Throughout the week of rebuilding this woman’s house I was in one of the happiest states of my life. It was not by any means easy work, I was dirty, sweaty, and parts of me ached that I didn’t know could ache- but I was happy. The amount of fulfillment I had when I was able to show the woman her new bathroom and kitchen was greater than what I could have experienced with anything else. There is power is helping others. At that point I knew that the purpose of my life had transcended just myself and the whole idea of feeling fulfilled made sense. Yet it’s important to note that these actions were by no means world-changing, but through a week of service I was able to spread positivity.

In modern society it has become far too easy to forget about the needs of others and to become self involved. We live our lives to make ourselves happy and while that may work for a while, that type of happiness fades, and leaves us empty. We are obsessed with the latest trends and we live to acquire the latest piece of cool technology. Our minds have been warped to thinking that in these self indulgent things we will find true happiness and fulfillment. Yet it’s been proven that as far as wealth goes, all you need to be happy is to be just enough above the poverty line to have your basic needs met (Glatter). Studies have shown that any more wealth has no affects on your happiness. Clearly, living your life in pursuit of such petty pleasures like wealth, is a waste because it will never allow you to have true fulfillment. One person that seems to grasp the concept of having a positive impact is New York Times bestselling author, John Green. On his popular YouTube channel he was once asked, “The meaning of life?” to which he responded, “Other people” (The Dangling Rope of Terror). For me hearing someone who is very successful say that the purpose of life isn’t to make oneself have a great life or be super important is very powerful. He grasps the fact that there is no satisfaction in a self-involved life and that fulfillment comes from helping others.

But above all we must remember to be kind. We must remember to contribute positivity to this world even when the alternative is sometimes much easier. Mankind seems to have gotten way too caught up with mattering. We all want to leave a mark on the world, but, as the popular novel The Fault in Our Stars states: “The marks humans leave are too often scars” (Green 311). Too focused on leaving an impact, we forget to be gentle and kind. It’s like if you were to go pound a nail into a fence. Sure you made a mark, but now you’ve damaged a perfectly good fence.​ In modern society humans have become monsters, doing whatever they can to be remembered and to be important. This is no way to live a fulfilling life. You cannot get so caught up in mattering that you forget to tread softly through life and spread positivity.

The thing is I don’t need to be remembered. I don’t need to leave a legacy after I die. Because the inevitable fact is that in the pursuit of leaving a mark “we’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it” (Green 312). I don’t want to scar the earth. I want to spread positivity. I want to know that I was able to spread kindness. And that is how I will find true life fulfillment.

 

 

Works Cited

The Dangling Rope of Terror: It’s Question Tuesday. Perf. John Green. YouTube. Vlogbrothers, 5 June 2012. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.
Glatter, Robert. “How Much Money Do You Really Need To Be Happy?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 July 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.
Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. New York: Dutton, 2012. Print.
Mandela, Nelson. “On Life.” Nelson Mandela Foundation. The Nelson Mandela Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.
The New Era of Positive Psychology. Perf. Martin Seligman. TED: Ideas worth Spreading. TED, July 2008. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.
Paramaguru, Kharunya. “5 Great Stories About Nelson Mandela’s Humility, Kindness and Courage.” TIME World. TIME, 6 Dec. 2013. Web. 16 Dec. 2013.

What makes you awake to the world?

Nothing terrifies me more than living a life not fully awake to the world.

I want to experience things. I want to learn things. I want to explore things I love. I want to screw up things.

I want to do Things.

Being a teenager enrolled in a compulsory education system I often feel cheated of the chance to have experiences that are worthy of this great world.

I feel like I have no chance to do anything great.

So when I find something that gives me a feeling of worth and fulfillment, I explore and immerse myself in it. Naturally.

For me this Thing I have found is filmmaking and art in general.

Art allows me to have importance. Art allows me to feel like something I’ve created has an affect on another person. Art is my Thing.

So why is it that adults have seemed to try everything they can to try and convince me to forget about any desire to have a future in filmmaking?

I’ve had my counselor tell me that taking Spanish 4 would be a better use of my time and that photography would be a waste. My parents constantly feel the need to remind me of the lack of job security I would have as a filmmaker. Teachers constantly encourage me to go after a career in math or science because art can only be just a hobby for an AP kid like me.

But , you see, I don’t care.

I don’t care if Spanish would look better on an application than photography. I don’t care that I won’t have an easy set in stone career. I don’t care that I’ll have to live on a low budget as a “starving artist”.

I’ve found my Thing.

And my Thing makes me awake.

As the lyrical genius Macklemore once said, “I’d rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting fucked.”

I fully believe that if I were to just conform and go into a field that is considered more acceptable I would be “fucking” myself.

I would be voluntarily submitting myself to a life of being asleep.

A life filled with pettiness and a total lack of significance.

And now that I’ve experienced what it feels like to feel fulfilled and awake to what the world has to offer me, there’s no way I could ever be satisfied doing anything else.

My Thing gives me purpose.

My Thing gives me happiness.

My Thing lets me be great.

I heard a quote once, I’m not sure from who, but it went something along the lines of “If you’re born to be a gravedigger don’t stoop to be a King.”

Find your Thing.

Find your Thing that gives your life worth and greatness.

Find your Thing that makes you awake.

-Nikki Robinson

A Metaphorical Box.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s being put into a box.

In the words of genius Tyra Banks, “You don’t know me. You don’t know what I been through.”

And it’s true.

You don’t know me.

You don’t know the reasons behind what I do.

You don’t know that the reason I space out all the time isn’t because I’m lazy or careless or not paying attention.

You don’t know that the reason I hardly ever cry isn’t because I’m emotionless and apathetic.

You don’t know that the reason I stay up late isn’t because I’m wasting time on electronics and social media.

You don’t know.

There are many things that make up Nikki Robinson.

Sure you may know me as the funny girl, but do you know me as the insecure girl?

Sure you may know me as the AP student, but do you know me as the girl with a room covered in art?

Sure you may know me as the Christian, but do you know me as the gay rights supporter?

Sure you may know me as the sick kid, but do you know me as the energetic social kid?

Are you getting it? You don’t actually know me.

And I find this frustrating. Know one will ever fully know me. Heck I’m still getting to know myself.

Yet in a world where people open up their lives through all types of social media I have a feeling that we might be one of the most misinterpreted and unknown generations so far.

We as a society are guilty of assuming that someone’s Twitter page is an accurate representation of their entire character.

Ha ha ha no.

Nikki Robinson and @TheNiksterrrr are quite different.

So why is it that some people would take my twitter bio as my actual personality?

While “Cooler Than Jesus Riding A Dinosaur.” definitely describes a significant portion of my identity a more accurate bio would go something along the lines of “A lot of times I feel cooler than Jesus riding a dinosaur but then there’s times where I feel more socially awkward and annoying than Jesus wearing crocs while twerking.”

And that’s the simplified version.

Overall I’m trying to get at the fact that I’m much more multifaceted than you think.

And I know that I’m not the only teenager who feels unfairly labeled and shoved into a metaphorical box.

So just stop trying to understand everything about every single person you meet.

You can’t.

Because sure you can peek through the keyhole of the door to my life.

But you’ll never be able to see the whole room.

Until my next existential crisis- keep trying to be clever.

Nikki Robinson

Liam’s Journal 12/16/2011-1/15/2012

December 16
Nurse Maggie brought me this book today and said I should write in it. I don’t know what I’m supposed to write. I told her that. She said, “Just write what’s on your mind kid”. So I will. I like Nurse Maggie. I think she’s my favorite. A few weeks ago she snuck me an extra jello. I promised I wouldn’t tell nobody. Daddy came by today for a few hours. He said he misses me and that he can’t wait until I can come home for good. He told me that he keeps finding Max drinking out of the toilet. That made me laugh. Daddy looks sad whenever he comes. I wonder why.

December 17
A girl came today. She is in the room right across from me. Sometimes if both of our doors are open I can see her while I sit in my bed. She smiled and waved at me. I waved back. I like her. She’s a teenager I think. Her hair is always tied on top of her head. It looks silly like a bird made a nest on her head. Whenever she sees me look at her she smiles. But sometimes she doesn’t know I’m looking at her. She looks sad and tired at those times. I want to know why she’s here.

December 18
I woke up early this morning. My tummy felt bad. I threw up. Nurse Maggie says it’s because my medicine is higher so they can kill the sick bugs in me. I told her it’s not fun being sick. She said “I know, kiddo, I know.” I still don’t feel very good. My tummy hurts a lot. I couldn’t go to art today because I felt bad. Being sick is stupid. And it’s okay for me to write stupid because I’m not saying it out loud. The girl’s family came today. She had a older brother. I think it was her mom’s birthday because there was a cake. I wanted some cake. When they left she look really tired. I waved at her. She waved back. Then she put her headphones in and shut her eyes. I don’t think she was asleep though. Just resting. Family visits make me tired too. Nurse Maggie says I have to go to bed early tonight so bye.

December 19
I feel much better today. The nice breakfast lady brings me pancakes and they were very yummy. The girl’s door is open but it looks like her room is empty. When Nurse Maggie comes in to give me my morning meds I ask if she left. She says she’s in another part of the hospital getting tests done. I think I would have been sad if she had left and I didn’t get to say goodbye. The girl comes back after lunch. She’s talking to her computer. I think it’s a video call. She looks happy. She sees me watching her and smiles at me. She has a nice smile.

December 20
Mommy came this morning. She brought me a cool hat. She says now that I don’t got hair I need to keep my head warm. I like my hat because it makes me look cool. I want to show the girl my hat but her door was closed all day. I missed her. I hope she didn’t close her door because she didn’t like me.

December 21
In the middle of the night a boy down the hall was very sick and there were doctors running up and down the hall yelling. I was scared. This morning I asked Nurse Maggie what happened. She told me his breathing got bad while he was sleeping. I asked if he was okay. Nurse Maggie says we’ll see. I hope he is. The girl had her door open today. I put on my hat. She gave me two thumbs up. That made me happy. Sometimes I make goofy faces at her and she makes goofy faces back. We both laugh.

December 22
Christmas is coming soon! The craft lady brought paper and crayons to each room so we could make stockings. My stocking is blue and I colored black and green stars on it. I watched the girl color hers. When she looked up at me I held up my stocking she gave me two thumbs up and showed me hers. It’s red with green stripes. I like it a lot and give her two thumbs up also. Later the craft lady comes back to get our stockings and she hangs them up in the hall. I’m excited for Christmas. The girl has her headphones in for most of the afternoon. I wonder what she listens to.

December 23
Today was bad. Nurse Maggie woke me up early in the morning because I had to go to get tests done. They want to know if my sick bugs are dead yet. They took some of my blood and it hurt a lot. Then when I got back to the kid hall after lunch the girl was gone. I thought maybe she was getting tests like me. But I asked Nurse Maggie and she said that as far as she knew the girl’s parents had checked her out. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I’m very sad.

December 24
Today is Christmas Eve. I asked Nurse Maggie why it’s called Christmas Eve. She didn’t know! I thought old people knew everything. After lunch some of the boys and girls gathered in the tv room and we watched The Polar Express. I liked the movie a lot. I think the girl would have liked it. I miss her. It’s very lonely in my room by myself with no one in the room across the hallway.

December 25
Today is Christmas! Mommy and Daddy were there when I woke up. After I ate breakfast Nurse Maggie brought my stocking in from the hall and guess what?! Santa came during the night and put a candy bar in it! I didn’t even know Santa came to hospitals! Mommy and Daddy got me Legos and a few books. I’m very excited to play with the Legos. It has been a very good Christmas. I wonder if the girl’s green and red striped stocking is still hanging in the hallway. It makes me sad to think of it all by itself.

December 26
I feel yuck today. Nurse Maggie says I’m probably tired from all the fun yesterday. She also said I might also be feeling sick because of my medicine. I really don’t like being sick. I wish I was at home feeling good and playing with me friends. It’s not fair if you ask me.

December 27
I laid in bed most of today. Nurse Maggie tried to make me eat. I said I’m not hungry. I’m sad. I don’t like being alone. And I’m scared. I don’t want to die by myself. I don’t want to tell Nurse Maggie this though. I don’t even want to write anything more. Nurse Maggie said I have to turn the tv off until I write something. She says my brain will rot if all I do is watch tv. I don’t care.

December 28
Nurse Maggie says the doctor said I can start going on walks up and down the hallway. I’m very excited. He said there has to be someone with me when I do though. Nurse Maggie was very busy today with other kids so she couldn’t take me on a walk. I’ve been very bored today. I played with my Lego set that I got for Christmas which was fun.

December 29
Guess what?! The girl is back! Nurse Maggie woke me up this morning and when I looked out my door across the hallway she was sitting on her bed. I waved and she waved back at me. I’m very happy to see her again! I’m also kind of sad though because if she’s back here it must mean she’s really sick. I really want to talk to her and ask her what’s wrong with her. There’s a doctor in her room right now so her door is shut. I’m going to bed now.

December 30
This morning after I ate breakfast Nurse Maggie took me on a walk down the hallway. She pushed my medicine tree thing. There was a doctor in the girl’s room when we walked past but she still waved to me. I asked Nurse Maggie if the girl could go on a walk with me one time. She said she’ll ask her. I hope she says yes. I liked walking. I liked getting to look in all of the rooms. Nurse Maggie said it’s not polite to do that so I did it when she wasn’t looking. There’s a little baby a few doors down from mine. She was very cute and little.

December 31
Nurse Maggie took more of my blood for tests this morning before breakfast. I got a Batman band aid. Batman is my favorite. The girl’s door was shut most of the morning. Then she opened the door and her hair was wet. I think she took a shower. Then guess what?! She came across the hall! She asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I put on my hat so she would think I was cool. We started walking down the hallway and she pushed my medicine tree. I told her my name and asked what hers is. She said that it’s Nikki. I like that name. She told me she really liked my hat. That made me happy. I asked her why she left for a few days. She said her parents wanted her home for Christmas. That makes sense. Then I asked her why she’s here even though Nurse Maggie told me not to because it’s not good etta kit (I don’t know how to spell that). She said that the doctors don’t know. I asked if she was sick like me. She said maybe. I said if her hair fell out she could borrow my hat. She said thanks but looked very sad. I hope she’s not mad at me because I was just trying to be nice. She asked me if Batman was my favorite because that’s what was on my t-shirt. I said yes and she said same! Then we talked about how bad the food here is most of the time. I told her that my favorite food is pizza. She said that one day we will break out of the hospital and go to the pizza restaurant across the street. I think she was joking but I would like that a lot. We had to go back to our rooms for lunch. After lunch I took a nap because I was very tired from walking with Nikki. She took a nap too. When I woke up I read a book. After dinner we all went to the tv room to watch some of the New Year’s Eve show in New York. I sat next to Nikki. Then Nurse Maggie came to tell all the younger kids to go to bed and that the older kids could stay and watch for a while longer. I said bye to Nikki. I’ve written a lot and I’m very tired because it’s late so I’m going to bed.

January 1
It’s officially 2012! I went on another walk with Nikki this morning. I found out that she’s 14 and a freshman in high school. I asked if high school is scary but she said no and that I will like it a lot. I asked her if she had missed a lot of school because she was sick. She said yes and that she was worried about making up all of her homework. I told her not to worry because I think she’s very smart and maybe I could help her. She said she’d like that. She asked if I was in school. I told her how I had stopped until I got better. She asked how long I had been sick. I told her since last February. She asked if it was scary. I told her not really and that sometimes I get scared of dying but I try not to be. I ask if she’s scared. She said sometimes. She said she’s scared of the unknown because she does not know what is making her feel so sick. I asked if we could be friends. She said that she thought we already were.

January 2
Nikki came across the hall this morning but I was feeling too sick to go on a walk. She asked Nurse Maggie if she could stay in my room and talk. Nurse Maggie said yes if she sat in the doorway so we didn’t give each other germs. Nurse Maggie helped her get a chair and a blanket from my room and she sat in the doorway. We talked about a lot of things. We talked about how our friends and family treat us because we are sick. Nikki said that her friends talked to her a lot at first but the longer she was sick the less they texted her. She said she only has a few friends that text her kind of regularly. I said I know what she means because I do. I asked if she gets lonely. She said sometimes it gets really bad and she feels really sad because it feels like her friends forgot about her. I told her I understood. She said that now we don’t have to be lonely anymore because we have each other. That made me very happy. I like that Nikki talks to me like one of her friends and not just a little kid.

January 3
I felt better today so Nikki and I went on a walk. I decided to ask her what she’s always listening to in her headphones. She said it’s really cool music. I asked if I could listen and so after we finished our walk she went into her room, got her laptop, came across the hall and sat in her chair in my doorway. She played several songs that I really liked (I will ask her to write down the names later). She bobbed her head to the beat of the music and so did I. That made her laugh. Nikki went back to her for a while to rest because she said she was tired. After dinner we both went to art. I drew a picture of a dog for Nikki. She said she loved it. She drew a picture of us. I was even wearing my cool hat! I really really really love the picture. Nikki asked for 2 pieces of tape so we could each hang up our pictures on our wall. When I got back to my room I hung it up and I saw Nikki do the same. I’m going to bed now so bye.

January 4
Mommy and Daddy came today. My birthday is tomorrow but they won’t be able to come by because they are busy. That makes me sad. They brought me presents. I got a batman t-shirt and black sweatpants and furry slippers. Daddy gave me a candy bar too. It’s a Snickers which is my favorite. I waved for Nikki to come over and she put on her slippers and walked across the hall to my doorway. I introduced her to my parents. They asked her how old she was and how long she had been here. I think they wanted to know how sick she is. I told them that Nikki goes on walks with me. Daddy said that maybe one day he’ll join us because it sounds like fun. Nikki said that would be great. I think my parents like Nikki and that she likes my parents. That makes me happy. Nikki stayed for a little bit but she said she was going to go rest because she was tired. Daddy said “thanks for watching out for my little boy”. Nikki said it was her pleasure and that I watch out for her as well, then she went back to her room. I told them that Nikki and I are best friends. They said good and that she seems like a nice girl. They left after dinner. Today was a good day.

January 5
Today is my birthday!! This morning Nurse Maggie brought a balloon to my room. She tied it to my bed. I really wanted Nikki to come across but she was in her room whispering to Nurse Maggie. Then when Nurse Maggie left she was on the phone for a while. I thought she would come across after that but then she sat in her bed and started writing or drawing something. I wondered if she had forgotten it was my birthday. After lunch she finally came out of her room and across the hall. I had asked Nurse Maggie if she could help me put on my new sweatpants and batman shirt this morning. I put on my hat and slippers too and we went on a walk. Nikki said she really liked my new clothes. That made me happy. I asked why she was in her room all morning. She said it was a secret. After we went on our walk Nikki said she’d be right back. When she came and sat back at my door I asked where she went but she wouldn’t tell me. She sat in my doorway and we talked for a little bit. Then she went back to her room because she had something to do. I was getting upset at all her secrets. Then right before dinner time Nikki and Nurse Maggie came into my room and told me to come with them. They took me to the tv room and there were several other kids there! Nikki and I sat by the other kids and Nurse Maggie put in Batman. I love that movie. Then towards the end of the movie an older boy (who I found out was Nikki’s big brother) brought in pizza! Nikki said that since we couldn’t escape to go across the street she had her brother bring some to us! All the kids sang happy birthday to me and then we got to eat pizza. It was very very delicious. Nikki introduced me to her brother and I said thanks for the pizza. He said it was no problem. We all hung out in the tv room for a while and it was a lot of fun. Then all the kids went back to their rooms and Nikki, her brother and I went back to mine. She gave me a card that had a picture of batman on the front. That must have been what she was drawing earlier. Then Nikki and her brother said goodnight and went back across the hall. Nikki’s brother hung back and told me to take care of his little sister. I promised him I would. Right now I can see them on their computers. Today was my favorite birthday.

January 6
I woke up very late today. Nurse Maggie said that she wanted to let me sleep since I must have needed it. I look across the hall and see Nikki sitting on her bed brushing her hair. Her hair is wet and she’s in different clothes so I think she took a shower. Then she laid in her bead and watched tv. After lunch Nurse Maggie let me have a bit of the candy bar I got for my birthday. It was very yummy. I had wondered why Nikki never came over so we could go on a walk but then Nurse Maggie came in and said that Nikki wanted her to tell me that she wasn’t feeling very well today. Nurse Maggie says that her medicine could be making her very tired. I hope Nikki is okay.

January 7
When I woke up Nikki brought her breakfast tray over and sat in my doorway. She said that she feels a lot better. I asked if the doctors knew what was wrong with her yet. She said they had a few ideas but they weren’t sure yet. I then asked her if she was scared of dying. She didn’t say anything for a bit so i thought I made her mad. But then she said she’s only scared of dying without having an impact on the world. I think that makes sense. She asked if I was scared of dying also. I said sometimes. I said I don’t want to die by myself. She said that makes sense. I like Nikki because I think we understand each other a lot. After breakfast I had to get more tests in another part of the hospital. I felt sick so the man who always brings me to my tests got me a wheelchair. Sometimes if we were in an empty hallway he would push me fast. It was lots of fun. The tests took a long time and when I got back to my room it was already dinner time. Nikki waved at me and I waved back. I’m going to bed early because I’m exhausted.

January 8
Nurse Maggie came in this morning after I ate breakfast and she said that my tests showed that my sick bugs are spreading. She told me that the doctor said I shouldn’t go on walks for a while because it’s too much effort for my body. Nikki came over after Nurse Maggie left. I told her the news. She looked sad and worried. She asked me what I thought about it. I told her that I’m not too worried because I have no control over the sick bugs. She said I’m very brave. I asked if she would come sit with me every day since now I can’t go on walks. She said of course. That made me happy. She stayed until dinner time and we talked about all sorts of stuff. She went back to her room after dinner. She said she was going to draw me something pretty to put up on my wall in addition to her card and the picture of me she drew. I can see her drawing it right now. She always bites her lip when she’s concentrated which I think is funny.

January 9
Nikki brought over my picture this morning. It was a picture of me and her riding horses. There was a giant rainbow behind us. It was very colorful and I like it a lot. She sat in my doorway and we ate breakfast. I could only have jello and a piece of toast because my tummy keeps getting sick. I asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. She said she would like to make movies. I think that’s really cool. I think she’ll be very good at it. I said maybe I can be in one of her movies. She said of course and that it will be an oscar-winning film. Nikki stayed in my doorway for most of the afternoon. We talked about everything. I asked her what her biggest fear is and she said being forgotten after she dies. I said spiders. Nikki’s watching me write this. She just pulled a very funny face. I told her that I wrote that. She called me a punk. That made me laugh.

January 10
Nikki was in other parts of the hospital all day seeing doctors and getting tests. She didn’t get back until a few minutes ago. I watched tv most of the day. The craft lady came by and brought crayons and paper. I drew a picture of Nikki with a camera and me dressed as Batman in front of the camera. At the top I wrote “Nikki and Liam in 2021″. I’m going to give her the picture tomorrow. I’ve been very tired lately. I don’t like it. Even getting out of bed to go to the bathroom makes me really tired. To be honest I’m a little scared. I feel like I’m getting sicker. I don’t want to die yet. I don’t think I’m scared of dying. I think I’m scared of leaving. I don’t want to leave Nikki or my family. I want to live to 2021 and make a movie with Nikki. I want to see Nikki get better and I want to see her be happy. I don’t want her to feel lonely ever again. I don’t know. I guess there’s not exactly much I can do about it. Nikki just smiled at me. I like it when she smiles. I told her that once and she said I was making her blush. That made me giggle.

January 11
Nurse Maggie did more tests on my blood last night. This morning she came in to change my medicine. I asked why. She said I need something more powerful to fight the sick bugs. I asked if I’m going to die. She said “I’m going to be honest kiddo I don’t know what you’re future is going to look like.” I’m glad she was honest. I hate when adults lie to me. I told Nikki this when she came over. She agreed and said that she hates when adults try to lie and say things aren’t as bad as they are. I like that Nikki understands what it’s like being a sick kid. I gave her my drawing and she said she “absolutely adores it”. Nikki said she made something last night. She opened her laptop and started playing music. She said she made a playlist called “Liam and Nikki’s Greatest Hits”. That made me feel special. After lunch my medicine machine started beeping. Nikki jumped up and ran to get Nurse Maggie. I felt very dizzy and it was really hard to breathe. I started to cry. But only a little bit. Nikki looked scared so I had to be brave. Nurse Maggie gave me medicine to make me “feel comfortable”. She said that my body was having too hard of a time fighting the sick bugs in me. Nikki stayed for a while but went back to her room because she was tired. I think running to get Nurse Maggie was hard for her. I’m glad she did. She’s a very good friend. She looks like she’s sleeping right now. I wonder if the doctors ever discovered what was wrong with her.

January 12
I woke up this morning and threw up. I really don’t like feeling this sick. Nikki came over with her laptop and started playing Liam and Nikki’s Greatest Hits. She sat on her computer and I laid in bed. We didn’t talk much because I felt too bad. I’m glad she kept me company. Before she went back to her room she said “Goodnight Best Friend.” I said “Sleep tight Best Friend.” I like that Nikki said I’m her best friend. Nikki is my best friend.

January 15
Liam died two nights ago. He passed away in his sleep after his tiny body couldn’t handle it any more. Nurse Maggie says he probably wasn’t in that much pain when he died. His parents found this journal and after reading it they decided to give it to me. One of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed is two parents losing a child. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the looks on their faces as they gave me a hug and said goodbye. January 5, 2004-January 13, 2012. Much too short of a life. Yet Liam did not use his young age as an excuse not to change the world. He changed my life in ways he’ll never know. I was in a bad place when I came here. I didn’t know what was going to happen and I was terrified. I was also hopeless. I was in a dark place before I met Liam. But this sickly 50 pound 8 year old in Batman pajamas and the most ridiculous looking hat I’ve ever seen managed to open my eyes in ways I never thought possible. Liam taught me that there’s no use in feeling sorry for yourself. He never let his grim diagnosis affect his view on the world. He found joy in everything and saw the good in everyone. We can all learn something by the way Liam lived his life. He taught me the true meaning of a best friend. He knew how to ask tough questions and how to listen. At 8 years old he was wiser than any old philosopher. Liam understood things. He understood the inevitability of death and that there’s no use in being afraid. A few days ago I asked him what he thought his purpose was on this earth. He said that it was to help people and that he was afraid that he’d die before being able to help someone. He definitely helped me. I’m getting discharged this afternoon but I’ll never forget these past few weeks. Liam taught me to love unconditionally because the world is a beautiful place and you have to cherish it for whatever time you have. I know that Liam is up in heaven now eating pizza and playing with Legos. I guess I’m writing this just to say thank you. Thank you Liam for being my superhero. Thank you for being my Batman.
-Nikki Robinson

Words.

You see I grew up being told that rhyme that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

But, while stones crush our bodies, words crush our souls.

So don’t try to tell me that the names we were called didn’t hurt.

Don’t try to tell me that you’ve never laid awake at night trying to convince yourself of your worth.

But felt like it was impossible.

He was a different kid.

The malfunctioning result of a few loose screws and not enough maintenance.

By age 7 he was told he was “too much too handle”.

By age 11 he was called “freak” “fat” “loser” “attention-seeker”.

By age 13 he learned to hate himself.

You see, all he wanted to do was fit in.

So if everyone hated him, he might as well join the club.

He was a cocktail of 2 parts medication and 4 parts self loathing.

Constantly being told to “just focus”.

That ADD and extreme anxiety aren’t that bad.

Like all he had to was try a little harder not to have a panic attack.

As if.

At age 15 everyone found out about his secret medicated life.

“Hey, you got anything extra to sell me?” They would taunt as he tried to walk through the halls unnoticed.

He would come home crying.

Begging God for anything other then the hell he was living in.

Don’t try to tell me words don’t hurt.

She was the forgotten child.

An after thought of two career focused parents.

Constantly expected to glide through life and not bother anyone.

They convinced her that she was worth her test scores.

So in the sixth grade when she failed a test,

She threw up.

Her parents called her lazy.

And she believed them.

So she worked harder.

She was walking on a high wire and you see, the more she tried to keep her balance, the more she began to wobble.

Until she fell.

In high school her grades dropped.

And so did her value in herself.

By age 15 she was told she had wasted her potential.

By age 17 she was told that the only school she had a chance at was the local community college.

She lost all hope in herself.

Don’t try to tell me words don’t hurt.

They aren’t the only kids who grew up this way.

Damaged more by an arsenal of words than all the stones in the world.

They aren’t the only kids that laid in bed every night trying to convince themselves that the others were wrong.

Desperately clinging to any sense of self worth.

Walking blindly through the desert in search of our brighter futures.

Some got lost on the way.

But we held on.

Even when the heavens themselves seemed against us.

Still we held on.

We are the graduating class of those who refused to give up.

We walk across that stage and yell “You were wrong!”

We have to believe they were wrong.

And if you still don’t believe that your beautiful, or smart, or important then reevaluate your meaning of those words.

Because I’m telling you straight right now, no word can determine your worth,

No insult can determine your beauty.

You see, words definitely hurt,

But they don’t define us.

Nikki Robinson