Page uploaded on June 11, 2020.

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This page is the answer to page 694, where Amber feels crushed by her feelings of inadequacy. Here, she regains the self-esteem she lost, and this is how chapter 14 and chapter 15 work together to create their own story within the story, which I hope you've enjoyed.

I wrote these chapters through a lens of personal experience. Education in particular has been a sore subject for me because I struggled in high school, got a GED instead of graduating, and I never attended college. For years during this time of my life, I would feel humiliated over and over again as people asked me what I was studying in college. I fumbled over my answer every time because I felt so much shame and regret (made more intense by the fact that I had been a "gifted" student, and my intelligence had been praised and prized by others)--and these crushing feelings led to so many negative outcomes in my life, the main one being that my self-esteem dropped to rock bottom and the life I was living seemed like one huge disappointment. Page 694 was sort of me.

I felt so low that I was reading self-help books about how to build one's self-esteem back up because it was in such terrible shape--and building it back up was a process that took time and had no simple answer--but one book I read had an exercise that impacted me in a big way. It asked me to write down a list of people I most admired, and then it asked me to list the character traits they had that made me admire them. True to the book's intent, the character qualities I listed were things like "they show a lot of compassion," "they have a positive attitude," "they spend time with me," and things like that--NOT "they graduated college," or "they are very smart."

While being very smart and graduating college are great things, I realized they weren't the most important things--at least, not to me, so why was I beating myself up over my own shortcomings in those areas? Ultimately, I was judging my value based on things that I was failing at, and I was ignoring my good qualities completely, writing off my own kindness and strength of character as unimportant trivialities. But they aren't, really! They're some of the most important things, and that's what Amber is realizing here.

That's not to say that I wrote these 2 chapters just to tell the story I'm expounding upon here. There are also plot-centric reasons that I wrote these chapters, and we still have a good dozen or so pages left to go in this one--but I'll let all of those things unfold on their own.

I want to close with this: we all have value simply for the fact that we are human beings. Being smart is a great thing, but not being as smart as you think you should be doesn't diminish your innate value at all!! No matter who you are, you have value, you are important, and even if your life circumstances conspire with your own bad choices to cause you to not graduate, you can still end up drawing a webcomic that makes people think or makes people feel!--Or whatever it is that you're passionate about doing :) There is hope no matter what failures happen, and "everybody else's path" might not be YOUR path. That's okay. I believe we all bring something different to the table, and that's a good thing.

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