Stephanie Parwulski

Afraid to Fly

 

I have a song

that I’m not quite ready to sing.

I have a flight to make

with a broken wing.

 

I have a voice

that has grown so small.

It’s barely a whisper,

hard to hear much at all.

 

O strength!

Where have you gone?

Why do you leave me

at every dawn?

 

I have a purpose

that I have not yet found.

I am blocked by my fear,

which makes my heart pound.

 

I have a journey

that I must take,

but my foot is frozen

upon the brake.

 

O hope and faith!

Please don’t flee.

I need you

to support me.

 

Raise me up on your shoulders,

and keep me from falling,

and maybe then, I’ll finally realize

my true calling.

 

Why am I

so afraid to fly?

I hope that, one day,

I’ll rise above what I’m hindered by.

 

I wish that I could see

I don’t have broken wings.

I am just afraid to open them

and see what life brings.

 

I have a special dream

to be happy with who I am,

and then I will discover

my full wingspan.


 

A Gentle Stir

 

Like a small bird,

whose feet tremble at the edge of her nest,

afraid of leaving the familiar

for an unknown quest,

I, too, am filled with fear

to go about each day.

I try to quiet the doubt

and keep my worries at bay,

but like a flood, they rush in,

crowding my mind,

making self-confidence

very difficult to find.

Yet, something stirs the small bird’s wings,

a gentle, guiding breeze,

encouraging her to take flight

and reach the tops of other trees.

Hope grants her the strength

to open her wings and fly,

allowing her to touch

every corner of the sky.

If she so dreams,

anything can she achieve,

for at the heart of her journey,

she will believe.

Will I, like this small bird,

gain the courage to soar?

I have faith that’s what my wings

will someday be ready for.


 

My Footprints Next to Yours

 

When an ocean stands within your eyes,

ready to pour like rain from cloudy skies,

let each tear fall down your face.

Your feelings aren’t something you should erase.

 

You’re not “less than.” You’re not “just.”

You are “more than.” In this, please trust.

 

When the darkness overwhelms you by its size

that you valiantly try to minimize,

making you wonder if the sun will ever rise.

I will shine a light as a guide

upon the path that the darkness made difficult to see.

So when you are unsure of where to start,

begin with me.

 

If you lose your footing

because of unsteady ground,

you don’t have to be ashamed.

I will always be around,

because you matter and have purpose

and are worthy of love.

So, if any doubt comes to mind,

I’ll help you see that you’re enough.

I see beauty in every part of you,

especially where you find it not,

because your inner strength is reflected there,

showing how you give life everything you’ve got.

 

The journey may not always be easy,

causing you to stumble from time to time,

but I know that if you fall,

you won’t give up on the climb,

because I’ll be right there beside you,

my footprints next to yours.

So amidst any uncertainties or fears,

know that my belief in you unconditionally endures.


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My journey with anxiety began a little over a decade ago when I was a freshman in high school. I absolutely loved learning, yet the social setting of school made my body fill with a high degree of nerves, so much so that one day I could not get on the school bus. This magnitude of worry accompanied me for other firsts, too, like attending college and starting a job. At one point, the weight of my anxiety was so heavy that I did not want to leave my house. Today, I have found a means of managing my anxiety, which originated from my decision to accept it. This was not an easy decision. My anxiety was something that I used to feel ashamed about and strove so hard to conceal from others, not wanting to burden them with my inner storm. Through counseling, the unconditional support of family and friends, and writing, I came to realize that the pain in keeping my anxiety hidden outweighed the risk of opening up about it. In giving voice to my experiences with anxiety, I aspire to provide others with hope for their journeys and diminish the isolating feeling of their struggles. I want to bring visibility to those who feel invisible, showing them that they and their stories matter. I want to stand alongside and uplift anyone who feels alone. I used to think that my anxiety was inhibiting me from connecting with other people, yet I now see that it is the bridge that is leading me to cross others’ paths in an authentic and understanding way. My writing, especially my poetry, is reflecting to me an inner strength I never knew that I possessed, and I wish to help others discover their inner strength, too. Through my words, I hope to empower, diminishing the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental illness. When we accept, believe in, love, and embrace ourselves, we are able to bring about so many positive differences. We are not deficient, inadequate, or weak. We are enough, more than enough, and always will be.

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Stephanie Parwulski is an avid reader and writer with a great passion for children’s literature and poetry. Writing is her haven, a place where she can express her creative view of the world and her innermost feelings. Her first book, Beatrice and the Sunflower Gift, a story about a shy, selfless turtle who learns that a small act of kindness can make a big difference, was published in April 2018 by Belle Isle Books. This book is meant to be a reflection of her own journey with anxiety. Stephanie also contributes articles regarding her anxiety to The Mighty, a website that publishes personal accounts from people living with physical and/or mental health conditions. Her second book, which is about a maple tree and a young girl who befriend one another, will be released some time in 2019. She wrote this book in the hope of providing comfort to those who have experienced loss. Stephanie’s mom passed away unexpectedly in September 2014, and she is the inspiration for her daughter’s writing. Stephanie aspires to carry on her mom’s legacy and honor her memory through her writing.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Daemen College in Buffalo, New York in May 2016. Furthermore, she loves spending time with her family and friends, gardening, singing, doing arts and crafts, and caring for others in need. Stephanie also works as a preschool teacher aide, which brings her joy like her writing does.

She firmly believes that when words are used positively, they have the power to touch others deeply by bringing a smile their way or giving hope to their hearts. She is grateful to be a part of MITA and aspires to provide encouragement by sharing her story. Stephanie never wants anyone to feel alone along his/her journey. Her heart is ready to listen, and her hands are outstretched to help.

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