Maddie Lukomski, South Dakota
I’m not typically one for journaling, but I felt grateful for this opportunity to put my thoughts into written word since that’s what I love most about life. So much of this competition is physical, which means that my brain is in need of a bit of a workout, too!
Today, Diary, I had a bit of an epiphany. As every morning here, I had to get up at an inhuman hour – for the first morning since I got here, I was too tired to jump out of bed early as I usually do. My muscles were sore from the fitness from the day before, my mind was fuzzy from lack of sleep, my internalized “youngest sibling syndrome” was causing a mini tantrum to form in the outskirts of my brain. I shuffled to the kitchen of the Greene house with a frown on my face. I made coffee, I sat down. It took only one sip of the coffee for me to realize exactly what I had to realize in that moment.
The coffee felt so precious to me then: the warmth, the energy that I held in my hands. The Greenes bought that coffee pot just because I had mentioned that I was unable to function without it. I looked around the kitchen. It was stocked with food that the Greenes had specifically gotten for us. I looked outside, into the hazy, gentle morning. I was in a completely different place than I had been in just a few days prior – a culture completely unlike my own had enveloped me and welcomed me with open arms and wide smiles. The rain was a nuisance, but it was an adventure. No other class of Distinguished Young Women got to experience the things that we got to experience because the weather had kept us inside; and who could say that it isn’t exciting to get caught in the middle of a tropical depression?
The little things that I had failed to notice before overwhelmed me then. I loved this house, I loved my beautiful roommates from Georgia and New Mexico, I loved my generous and loving host family. I loved bringing smiles to autistic children today, and I loved helping them make ice cream as a special treat. I loved hugging my new friends, and sleeping on them after FIVE HOURS of doing a fitness routine that sucked the life out of all of us. I loved listening to my Girl Scout troop sing their scout songs to us and hearing about all of the stories of things that they held so dear to them, and I loved seeing their eyes light up when they got to dance with the Distinguished Young Women whom they idolized so much. I loved doing the tango (way too fast) with Quinn, even though I have no idea how to tango. I love the pure and generous and beautiful and trusting and hopeful and extraordinary aspects of this program – more than I ever thought I could.
Diary, I am now sitting in my exercise clothing. I haven’t showered, changed, or taken any preparations for the next day yet. I know that I am going to stay up quit late tonight, and I am going to get up ridiculously early for a media interview. But I am genuinely excited for all of that. I am so blessed to be exhausted and sore and full of gratitude and love at the end of the day, for it means that I am living my life to the fullest extent that I can. Through all of the bumps and sticky situations, I am always reminded by the laughter of my friends and the tight hugs of my host mother that I am alive. I am alive in Mobile Alabama in the middle of a hurricane, and I have never been happier to be in the exact moment and place that I am now. Distinguished Young Women reminded me that I am blessed to have ever met the most incredible people in our nation and to have been wrangled around by the most caring and hilarious women you will ever see. I wish I could write more, Diary, but my heart (and my page) is overflowing. I am ready to rush head-on into the next week and a half with these loving and genuine women that I am so honored to call my friends. To all of the memories to be made, and all of the friendships that will bear such a huge significance on my life! All I can say now, to everyone of Distinguished Young Women, is that I’d like to thank you for all you do, I am so thankful (oh yes it’s true), and what I’d really like to say: I give you all of my love today.
Thank you for everything that has been and has yet to be,
-A very inspired poet and friend from South Dakota