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  • Writer's pictureHeather Simmons

ICYMI: Square One

Two years ago I wrote an essay on how I cope with uncertain times. In this instance I was sorting through a major blow to tallulah's finances that came out of nowhere. It was a very difficult time in my life, one that was filled with anxiety, hopelessness, and fear. This essay was one way that I waded through this difficult time, and I share it with you only to encourage you to find a healthy way to process your thoughts, should you be met with a circumstance that is neither your doing, your fault, or within your ability to change. We are to shoulder one another's burdens. We are to persevere.

This essay was originally published by Harness Magazine at


I first tried my hand at writing in a semi-serious fashion when I was 22, in that fleeting collegiate timeframe when I experienced an exorbitant amount of free time but was completely unaware of the fact. This was a time when my peers and I were graduating, marrying, and trying to figure out our "career" paths that we assumed we were stuck with for the next 25 years until we could retire. Ahem. Mix these impending major life decisions with the aforementioned free time and the result is hours and hours of marathon conversations with roommates, fingernail biting, and a general all-consuming anxiety about the future.

The Minor-Day wedding was the very first of about 300 weddings to come (read: I've been a bridesmaid 22 times) and was a real eye-opener for me. The reception was not typical: instead of dancing and having a fantastic time, we all huddled in hushed groups with phrases like "I got the internship in D.C. and think I should take it." and "He better propose before we graduate so I can have my candlelight at chapter." wafting through the air. Timid pandemonium was building. While I had up until that evening planned my entire life out (complete with an established and serious boyfriend who would soon become my husband and the father to my children while I played housewife), I had my heart broken only weeks earlier, leaving me with no game plan. At all. Needless to say, the timid pandemonium rising within my peers sent me on a brief downward spiral.

I spent the next three months alone at the beach trying to figure out my life. Writing out my fears and the observations I had about my friends' fears/mistakes/successes and general thoughts on life helped me make sense of it all. Forcing myself to explain things to an invisible listener helped me explain things to myself. It was the most self-discovery I've ever packed into one point in life.

Recently, I found a personal essay I wrote during that beach hiatus called Square One. It bemoaned my relationship misfortune, my lack of personal goals, and how this square one person was really starting to like me. I've always been an over-achiever, so feeling like I'd wasted five years of my life in an ultimately failed relationship and then having to admit I was back at the beginning was demoralizing. Almost nine years later, I look back at my accomplishments and thank God for putting me back in that square. I've gone to graduate school, honed my craft and launched a clothing line, been a damn good friend, traveled extensively, found my handsome puppy named Oscar (who's now seven and my favorite) and just celebrated one year with my best friend and husband Josh. Life. has. been. worth. it.

The timing of uncovering this gem of a work is serendipitous to say the least. The initial investor of my clothing line just called in his loan with no warning or explanation. The timid pandemonium is building. I'm anxious and stressed and I'm writing again as a coping mechanism. Reading this almost decade old piece on what was at the time the most tragic thing I'd ever faced gives me hope and reminds me that I can get through this. What was once an achingly difficult time paved the way for what would be the most fruitful and rewarding time of my life. I can overcome this. I will succeed, even if I can't quite see what that success looks like. This square is certainly starting to like me, and I'm learning to be ok with that.

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