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Young Writers Project: 'All Or Nothing'

Katie Matthews, a senior at Colchester High School, writes a personal narrative about what it’s like to give her all to life, how there is no in between or half measures for her.

All or Nothing
By Katie Matthews
Grade 12, Colchester High School

I’ve always been the all or nothing sort of girl. There is never an in between; not for me. For so much of my life, however, I have been fixated on the nothing. I have been fixated on being safe. For so much of my life, however, I thought being safe meant nothing, that the only way to protect myself from the pain was to keep people away. So I did. My friends, my family – they were all kept at arm’s length. All because of this fear I have, this fear that has consumed me for so long, this fear that stemmed before I can even remember. It controlled every single aspect of my life. I didn’t want people to get too close. I didn’t want to love people because the second I let myself love someone, that is the second they would get ripped away. It’s a feeling quite familiar to me.

The only way to keep from breaking is to not let anyone in. So, I didn’t. To this day, I can say that I have never told my mom I love her. How could I? How could I when I loved my father so deeply and he was taken out of my life so soon. That cannot happen again. I was 2 when my father passed; I didn’t understand death. All I knew was that my daddy had stopped coming home. Although my brain does not remember this part of my life, my heart does. My heart feels all the pain that 2-year old little girl felt when her dad would not come out from hiding. My heart feels the pain of the daughter wondering why her dad won’t come home. My heart feels the pain of the child forced to see all of her friends and their fathers interacting. My heart feels the agonizing pain of it all. For a while, it’s the only thing my heart felt. After all, my heart beats broken. For the first 17 years of my life, I accepted and I gave nothing to keep that pain from growing.

Then I met him ... and I fell … and I gave my all. That was my first mistake, because people always leave. Even when they promise they won’t. Even when they mean that promise. They will love you one day. You will be their all ... then the next, you’re just ... you’re just nothing. That’s what happened to me ... and I broke. He was my all and, now, I am his nothing. The pain in my heart grew because this time, I could remember every horrible detail of the whole ordeal.

I am the all or nothing sort of girl. There is never an in between – not for me. I hurt with all and I love with nothing. That is how I have chosen to live my life because when you love with nothing, how will you ever hurt with all? Except I broke my rule. I loved. I loved with all, every last bit. Maybe that’s what is supposed to happen. Maybe we are supposed to live with all in every aspect of life because that’s the only way to get anything out of it. But I don’t think I can do that. How am I supposed to be all when I am so afraid of becoming nothing? I am the all or nothing sort of girl. There is never an in between – not for me.

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