A Biography

I am a Kai Poʻi by the Shore

Me and Ali in Michigan (2017)

Kai Po’i [noun]; a breaking wave. A long body of water curling into a crest before breaking on the shore.

I am a kai po’i, a breaking wave. Every story begins with one thing. One thing that changes who you are and makes your life begin. This one thing is chance. In looking at my family history, I have discovered that the choices my ancestors made and the chances they took, shaped my family’s life forever. One choice and one chance.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been very against change. I was comfortable with my life exactly as it was. When we moved to a new house, I decorated my room and laid it out the exact same way. When we went to my favorite restaurant, I ordered the exact same food. You get the picture. However, in doing this project I have started to question why this is. All great adventures begin with a chance and often times in my family history, taking a chance helped improve my ancestor’s lives. It even saved their lives.

Sophomore year of high school I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I have been going to Maui, Hawaii since I was in diapers and I consider it one of the most influential factors on who I am today and on my values. While being a tourist hub, Maui is so much more than people understand. Whenever I step out of the plane and smell the sweet scent of Maui, I feel as though my heart beats with the waves and the island as a whole. So why then? When I was offered the opportunity to move here in order to promote a small school my uncle worked for, why didn’t I? Why didn’t I take a chance that could’ve changed my entire life and who I am now?

I have never strayed from the regular course, the easy course, or the familiar course in my life. I have followed the same path with the same people in the same place for as long as I can remember. And how do I feel now? I am longing to know what would’ve happened if I had done it and had moved to a place that calls to me. I am honestly disappointed. Questioning “what if?” is torturous because you can never know what could have been, you only know what is. While I do feel regretful, I know my reasoning for staying here: Practicality. I didn’t want to leave my family, my dog, and my best friends behind. I was scared to go from a school of over 2000 kids total to a school of about 350 kids total. That’s about half of my graduating class. I would be going from classes of about 35 students to an entire grade size of about 50 students. This idea terrified me. Not to mention, friends and family mean more to me than anything. I wouldn’t just be leaving my brother and my parents, but also my entire extended family who has lived only as far as 45 minutes from me in my entire life. Finally, I would have to leave my friends. I was fortunate enough to find friends in my hometown that knew me better than anyone. I couldn’t bare the idea of leaving our midnight movie premieres, our adventures in Atlanta, and our deep talks at 3am. It may not sound like much, but to me that friendship wasn’t something that I could leave.

I chose the opening picture of my biography as my best friend and I in Michigan. She’s what I couldn’t leave. I have never had anyone in my life impact me as much as she has. I would never tell her this because she would get really arrogant for at least a month. She calls me out when I’m wrong, she supports me, and she makes me laugh. While this biography is focused on me, I am who I am today because I know her. Also she took the chance I couldn’t take. A year after I denied the opportunity to go to Maui, her family gave her the choice to move to Singapore. She took it. Today, I look to her life and how it changed in Singapore and it makes me realize how all of my reasons for not going to Maui didn’t make sense. She left but we are still best friends, she’s still close with her family, and she has gained a new sense of family in Singapore with new people. Her choice inspired me and helped me see that I turn down opportunities too often. I’m not saying moving was easy, but overall she’s happy she did and while I missed her everyday, I’m happy she did too. She has changed her life forever and I think it’s time that I start to accept change in mine.

I am a Kai Po’i, a breaking wave. I am calm and still like peaceful water. I have never taken the chance that could propel me into motion, like a wave as it begins to break. The wave builds up to this moment and it takes time and energy. However, once the wave reaches its highest crest, you can’t stop it from breaking. Once in motion, it has to keep going and it has to change. I am breaking wave. I am building up to the moment when I’m willing to flow with the water. I hope from discovering my family history and how I have treated change in the past, I can now let myself see where the wave takes me.

My name is Abigail Hellmann and I would like to thank you very much for reading my project. It means a lot to get to share who I am with you.

Maui, Hawaii
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