Tag Archives: Short stories

We’re not okay

Let’s talk about the United States. The land of the free. The home of the brave. The land of assuming everyone is suspicious. The home of white privilege. Whether you hail from the good old U.S. of A. or elsewhere, recently, it is undeniable that race relations are in a piss-poor state these days, and in fact, have been for a long time. We have stayed blissfully ignorant and have continued to ignore the injustices served to minorities for hundreds — yes, hundreds — of years.

Now, bear with me. I know what you’re thinking. But Chelsea, you’re white. You’re pretty. Doesn’t that mean you are bitching about your own privilege?

Why yes. Yes I am. I am a pretty white girl. I have never been in a situation with law enforcement when I felt like my life was threatened. I have never been assumed suspicious. I have never been accused of being guilty of anything without proof. I have never been assumed dangerous.

And yes, I recognize that I have white privilege.

But what does that mean? This term gets thrown around alot these days — in a world where minorities are being shot for their cars breaking down in inopportune places or for walking down the street in the wrong neighborhood. You see — white privilege is exactly that. As a white person, I’m not in inherent danger if my car breaks down in the middle of the road. It is likely that if an officer or other law enforcement stops to see what’s going on, they will not assume I am armed, dangerous, or have illegal substances.

That’s white privilege.

If I’m walking down the street at night on my way home from a friend’s house party — I’m not assumed to be a threat to the neighborhood I’m walking through. Because of the color of my skin.

That’s white privilege.

Simply put, white privilege is all those small aggressions we of white, European descent don’t deal with in our daily lives. It’s unlikely that we’ll be the ones “randomly selected” at airport security. It is unlikely that we are assumed guilty. It is unlikely that law enforcement looks at us and assumes we have illegal substances or weapons. Cops don’t look at white people and assume we’re in gangs. They don’t assume we’re selling or doing drugs. Hell, they don’t even assume we’re armed.

And let’s be honest, in today’s society of assuming everyone is out to hurt you — a hell of a lot of people are armed.

This is why we’re not okay.

We have lived, for generations, blissfully, willfully ignorant of the systematic racism that has permeated our nation’s core values. Shit, we ENSLAVED an entire RACE of people for hundreds of years with no complaints. I’m not saying we’re the only nation with a history of slavery, but I am saying it took hundreds of years for Americans to begin to even admit that slavery is a gross injustice. It took hundreds of years for Americans to see that people of a different color aren’t lesser of a human being because of the color of their skin. What’s even worse, is after the emancipation of the slaves, we continued to treat them as less than human. We denied them the same rights as white people. We denied them the same education as white people. We denied them the same resources and opportunities as white people. We even denied them the right to vote, and penalized those who had the desire to vote.

What’s worse, is that even 150 years after emancipation — the wounds of slavery are still felt by minorities across this country. Minority races are still denied the same access to education. They are still denied the same access to basic constitutional rights (i.e.: innocent until proven guilty). We still make it harder for them to vote. We discredit their opinion. We paint them in a negative light in the media.

This, my friends, is white privilege.

What upsets me the most is how white folks are the first to deny white privilege. It doesn’t affect them directly, so it must not be real. Minorities don’t need to be convinced that white people live a more privileged life than they do. They already know. They live it every day. But it’s those of us with privilege that refuse to see it, or remain ignorant to it even in the light of conversations like these. I guarantee at least one person will read this and still deny that white privilege is a thing.

You, reader, are part of the problem.

You, reader, are why this nation isn’t okay.

You, reader, must see that you have the privilege of living in a different America than the rest of Americans.

If you need further proof, you needn’t look further than a major news network or trending news. A white man can shoot up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and be taken alive. A white man can shoot blacks as they pray peacefully in church and be taken alive (and be taken by Burger King to get some food on the way back to the station).

Yet a black man can’t have his car break down in the middle of the road without being shot.

A black man can’t be a caregiver for a deaf person without being a shot.

A black man can’t walk down the street without being shot.

A black man can’t walk toward police with his hands in the air without being shot.

Do you see a pattern here?

Black people are two and half times more likely to be shot by law enforcement than white people (Washington Post, 2016). Yet, white people commit 69.1% of the violent crimes in the U.S. (Table 43A, FBI). White people are statistically just as likely to commit manslaughter as a black people. White people are statistically MORE likely to perpetrate crimes like forcible rape, aggravated assault, property crimes, and violent crimes.

Yet, 58% of those incarcerated are black or hispanic. In the United States, of 2.3 million people in federal prisons, 1 million are black (Criminal Justice Fact Sheet, NAACP). 5 times as many white people are caught will illicit drugs and illegal weapons, yet minorities are 10 times more likely to be sent to prison for the same crime.

So, do you still think systematic racism isn’t a problem? Do you still think white privilege doesn’t exist? 

Open your eyes, please, citizens of the United States.

We’re not okay, America.

We’re not okay.

 

Sources:

I would like to note that a very quick Google search lead me to all of these resources, including the statistics from the FBI on the number of violent crimes committed by race. Do a little research, people. For the love of God — do some damn research.

 

“Table 43A.” FBI. FBI, 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

 

“Aren’t More White People than Black People Killed by Police? Yes, but No.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 July 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

 
“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” NAACP. N.p., 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

Advertisements

Wealth

Wealth is defined as: “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” But is that truly the only way we can live wealthy lives?  I believe wealth is more than money and materialism. To me, wealth is much more abstract than numbers in a bank or stuff in a house. Perhaps I just haven’t found the word I’m looking for to describe how I am wealthy. Or perhaps, I just value something a bit different than most people.

Here in the United States we are conditioned to be consumers from a young age. We are taught to want the biggest, newest anything and encouraged to seek jobs that bring material wealth. We glorify those who flaunt their monetary status. I have never understood the fascination with the monetary wealth. What good is a multi-million dollar house and designer clothes if you still hate yourself when you’re alone? What comfort does money bring you in the middle of a lonely, sleepless night?

I dislike western culture’s idea of wealth for many reasons — the biggest being the myth that without money, it is impossible to live a fulfilled life. Unless you work a good job or have a solid career — you can’t have lived a happy, satisfied life. We don’t deliver eulogies on the subject of a person’s salary. We don’t remember them for the stuff they owned or the car they drove; we remember the person they were.

I have known deep in my heart for many years that I am not a typical American. It has taken me a long time, but I am okay with the fact that I’m not like most of them. I couldn’t care less about the Kardashians. I don’t care if my clothes came from a thrift store. I’ve never stood in line for the release of the newest Iphone. I’m not hung up on my dress size, or that my car is almost 200,000 miles. 

Because no one will remember me for that. My students won’t remember that I only had 2 pairs of shoes. They don’t remember my recycled outfits and bad hair days. They will remember how I challenged them to be better. They will remember how I accepted no excuses. The people who know and love me, the people who enjoy my presence the most will never care if my black-on-black didn’t match or if my eyeliner was $2 or $20. To me — wealth is so much more than how new my clothes are or what model year my car is. Wealth is more than what I paid for my house or how much my gross income is.

I want wealth of knowledge. Wealth of experience. Wealth of love. Wealth of happiness. I want the kind of wealth that allows you contented, peaceful sleep. I want the wealth of having traveled the world. The wealth of good conversation. The wealth of enduring friendships. The wealth of having made a difference.

When I think of wealth, I often think of the words of Bob Marley, who was once asked if money and possessions are what make you rich. “Possessions make you rich? I don’t have these kinds of riches, no.” he replies. He seems genuinely surprised that anyone would define being rich as stacks of money or worse — things. 

“My richness is life, forever.”

3:30am

There is something quietly beautiful about 3:30am. Most of the world has drifted off to sleep — unless you’re lucky enough to be a night owl. You see, I believe that 3:30am is the hour of the powerful introvert. It is a peaceful time of night reserved for those of us overwhelmed by the events of the day, whom simply need time to think, alone.

3:30am is the hour of the artist, the dreamer, the writer, the empath; those who voraciously seek growth. 3:30am is the hour to reflect on individual needs and honor the individual beauty we bring to the world. 3:30am is the hour of the loner. My paradoxical nature allows me to swing between raging extrovert and quiet introvert. I’ve learned over my 27 years of life to honor both extremes of my personality. I have a job that allows me to be a raging extrovert. When you teach, you are rarely — if ever — alone throughout the day. It is one of many reasons I love my job; nothing replaces the relationships, conversations, and small moments I share with my students and my co-workers. I value every conversation.

But at 3:30am, I am allowed the comfort of honoring my quiet introvert. My need to be alone with my own thoughts. This is why I find quiet beauty in the hours when most others are asleep. I reserve my 3:30am thoughts for weekends and holidays. Teaching is a great job, albeit an exhausting one. During the week, I need sleep in order to be prepared enough to tackle my day. It is, in a way, part of the way I honor my introvert. I am not myself without my 8 hours. I am naturally not a morning person. I am a child of the moon.

3:30am is when I am able to find myself again. It is the time when my creativity flows freely and my mind is of unfiltered thought. I have never minded being alone. Some of my best thoughts and ideas have come to me at these quiet hours of the morning — when I’m alone, listening to the soft chirp of the crickets, aware of the world continuing around me. But for a couple of hours, my world slows down. Time slows to a grinding pace — and for a little while, I am simply able to enjoy my life and what I have made of it. I am able to enjoy true peace.

My fellow night dwellers — don’t let the world convince you to turn your light off. Keep this quiet hour for whatever it means to you. Enjoy the peace. Enjoy the silence. Enjoy the slow tick of the clock. You may be alone, but you are not misunderstood.  I see you with the light still on at 3:30am.

I am there with you.

What’s really wrong with kids these days

I don’t believe in normal. This is coincidental because I work in public education. In America, the goal of public education is to “normalize” everything. Every test we take is scaled against the norm. Every score we give is normed. Our literal goal is to move kids who are functioning below the norm to functioning within the norm.

If I’m being totally honest, this is what appalls me the most about public education. We celebrate mediocrity. We work to fit every child from every circumstance into one neat, well-managed box. One little box where all students perform within the “norm” and learn within the “norm” and accel at the “normed” curriculum. It’s disgusting. We are boiling young human beings down to numbers and scores as early as age five. We give them the message that if they aren’t reading at five something is wrong with them.

We strip them of meaningful learning because everything is about data. Numbers. Budgets. Money rules us. We as teachers are reprimanded if our students don’t perform at or above a certain level on standardized tests. Tests that, here in Missouri, aren’t even developmentally appropriate for our children. Tests that are purposefully tricky and use misleading wording. If we are truly trying to assess what they’ve learned — why mislead them? Why try to trick them? These tests end up ruling our standards, thus ruling our curriculums, thus running our classrooms day-to-day. People want to know why behavior problems are more frequent and violent incidents are more common today in public schools? It’s simple. Our government, and in terms, our states, and our districts — have sucked all the joy from teaching and learning. Kids aren’t excited to learn anymore. They’re force fed information they’ll need for a test, if they don’t do well on that test the teacher might be reprimanded, or worse the teacher might treat them as less of a student because they aren’t good with analogies or the order of operations.

What is the absolute most heartbreaking part of this is that teachers, school staff, and administration are genuinely good people (for the most part) that really want the best for the kids they spend seven and a half hours with Monday through Friday. These are people who paid lots of money for one of the most undervalued, underappreciated jobs in the United States. These are people who set out to change the world, and end up getting “normed” themselves. Meet certain indicators or your job is on the line. A ten minute observation might be all an evaluator sees of your classroom for several months. If they didn’t like what they saw in those ten minutes, you’ll be reprimanded. Just like standardized tests for students, these standardized evaluations for teachers leave no room for creativity, passion, or fun. They don’t respect who we are as individuals; and more importantly novice teachers are expected to operate at the same level as a teacher who has a decade or more of experience.

I really do love my job; and in no capacity regret getting my degree in education or choosing to take this journey as a teacher. It is a job that teaches you as much as you teach your students. It is a powerful lesson in patience, understanding, and gratitude; all traits most people can stand to work on. But ultimately, I already know that I will not spend my entire career in the classroom. It is a noble and rewarding job, however, not an easy one — mentally or emotionally. I know eventually I will reach a point in my life when I need a change of scenery. It will be too exhausting.

Our system of education has become dehumanizing. It feels more like a chore than a privilege; from the top down, our education system needs to be restructured in a way that energizes the learning process. We need to focus on the children we serve, and not on their academic shortcomings. We need to celebrate individuality, creativity, and multiple intelligences. Just because a child isn’t “reading at grade level” doesn’t make them less. They are not lesser people because they don’t do well on a stupid test. But our system tells them they are lesser. More so, leading children to believe there is only one way to be “smart” is cruel. Billions of people have lived happy lives without taking or scoring well on standardized exams. Why do we place so much value on something so insignificant as test scores? Why is it considered prudent to learn algebra? Isn’t it more important for our students to understand our system of government? Should we be teaching them to fact check? To stand up for social justice?

Our education system will never be effective until we learn to honor the individual, and the individual’s desire to learn.

Pick an Adjective to Describe Yourself

 

When you go to a job interview, a popular thing for the interviewer to ask is: “What’s three words to describe yourself?” Of course, we all come up with some bullshit to make ourselves look better; maybe one is actually true, the other two are usually something we wish we had or wish we could be.

If I were to be completely honest, the number one word I would use to describe myself is obsessive. Now, I know what you’re thinking — great, this girl is off the deep end. She’s gone literally crazy. But hear me out — I don’t think being obsessive is such a bad thing.

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a tendency to fixate on one thing at a time. My fixation is usually people. To be more specific; characters. I become completely and totally infatuated with characters — book, movie, even game characters. I want to know everything about them. I want to understand them. I want to understand their actions. Maybe, it’s more that I want to be a part of their world. If you follow my posts you already know I’m a bit of an escapist — meaning I like to escape the real world through the means of wrapping myself in another world — a fictional world.

My obsessive nature when it comes to people, though, allows me to see others and myself more clearly. This is why I argue that being obsessive isn’t such a bad thing. Just like I fixate on fictional things, I also fixate on real goals. That obsessive fixation, ambition, and desire to get what I want from life fuels me to be better. It fuels me to work harder. It fuels me to continue to grow and change.

Most people probably don’t want to describe themselves as obsessive. They think it’s an ugly trait and would rather list something else. But not me. I’m a believer in not only embracing the good things, but also the potentially bad things about me. I am both light and dark. I am all gray area. Could being obsessive be a bad thing? Sure. That’s why 90% of serial killers become serial killers. But obsession can only rule you in a negative way if you obsess over the wrong things. Yeah, I’m obsessive; I love obsessively, I read obsessively, I seek to understand others obsessively, I write obsessively. I’m obsessive about reaching goals. I’m obsessive about being happy.

Don’t obsess over the negative; obsess over the positive.

There’s so much to obsess about.

But my obsessive nature is curious:
What word would you use to describe yourself?

Dreams: Part Two

The English language is a funny thing. There are so many words in our language with dual meaning. My last post was titled “Dreams.” I spoke of “dreams” in terms of long-term, tangible goals. Today, I want to write about actual dreams — as in those bizarre events that happen when you’re asleep.

Or is that just me?

I need to give some background on this post and why it matters to me to write about this subject. I have always had an active imagination. As a child, I was day-dreamy. Blissfully unaware of the world and much of what was happening around me, I constructed a world all my own, and I resided in that world. It’s probably just another sign of my poor coping skills, but until I still exist in a world that is  half-in, half-out.

Part of the reason for my ongoing delusion that everything is not what it seems, is because of my very vivid, very lucid dreams. My dreams are generally pleasant; though often filled with unknown places and unknown people. However, I am usually quite content, even happy. There are many dreams I awake from that I wish I could return to. Sometimes my brain is generous and allows me to revisit places I’ve been before. Mostly, it insists I see new places and encounter new people. I suppose it’s not a bad thing — I crave the sensation of new experiences. I love the challenge of something unknown. I guess my dream brain knows me better than my waking brain. Or at the very least — my dream brain understands what my waking brain doesn’t.

I, rarely, have what are classified as “nightmares,” but when I do, they are terrifying. I think this is because very little scares me (Really. Even with all my anxiety and weirdness I’m rarely fearful). Many things in my dreams awaken my senses. Many things put me on high alert. Very little truly frightens me. When they happen, my nightmares and intense and overwhelming. I wake in a panic and it takes me hours to calm down enough to go back to sleep. My brain is a strange place. While I’m not afraid of much, it knows just what buttons to push to get a reaction. Many of my nightmares involved being trapped in some way — a deep part of me is ferociously independent, and my soul is free. I hate feeling caged. I hate feeling bound. I long for space to stretch my body and my mind.

Lately, though, my strange little brain has upped the ante. After almost 30 years of life as it is in our world, I have accepted that many things about me are peculiar. I have accepted that I am not like and do not think like most people. I still live in pseudo-delusional state between this world and the world of my dreams; which is truly a culmination of many things. Real experiences, books I’ve read, characters I’ve grown to love, movies I’ve seen, friends and faces from many years past. It’s strange what my dreams generate — and often hard to walk away from.

What sparked me to write about this topic is the curious sensation I’ve been experiencing as of late; my dreams now connect with one another. It’s like living an alternative life while I’m asleep. I’m still me — I still look like me, sound like me, am odd like me — yet I exist in a place that seems familiar, yet unknown. While I almost always lucid dream (and no, I don’t try. It just happens — another sign of my peculiarity, I suppose), I can’t say I’ve ever had a conscious experience when I realized my dreams were connected.

That changed last week. I had a nightmare — a creepy one, too, I was on a field trip with my class (I dream of my students often) when a student of mine stumbled on a strange old book. Being the child he is, he opened it. Inside were photographs that I can only describe as — unexplainable. Think of every weird  photo you’ve ever seen, related to paranormal activity or otherwise. Perhaps a trick of the light; perhaps a glitch in the camera; perhaps something beyond our realm of existence. Then, the book started to speak. Not English. Not any language I recognize. It was like when you play a record backward. It sounded demonic. It sounded macabre. It filled my whole head with a deep, deafening roar. I slammed the book shut. I pulled the child away. He said to me, “The book — it said to keep flipping. It told me to keep turning.”

I woke up. I didn’t go back to sleep that night. The next night, I had another dream. Not a nightmare this time. It was pleasant. I was with my husband and some old friends. We were purusing what I can only describe as thrift store. Full of old abandoned odds and ends, I wasn’t sure what we were looking for, so I just took in my surroundings. My husband had something in his hand, and he approached the counter. I walked up behind him. The clerk said to me: “I have a book on hold for you.” I accepted that this was probably the case (even though dream me couldn’t remember putting a book on hold) but I agreed, and out of the case the clerk pulls the same book from my nightmare the night before.

I woke up, and it clicked. The book had been lingering in my dreams for weeks. I hadn’t gotten a good look at it before the nightmare. I remember my dreams and I remember them well. They are hard to forget. Suddenly memories of other dreams flooded my thoughts — I had seen it on a table in a previous adventure, in the backpack of a traveler when I dreamed I was hiking, on a shelf in the library of an old house I once visited. I couldn’t shake it. I still can’t shake it.

As strange a place as my mind can be, I am currently perplexed by this book. My dreams have never tangibly connected in such a manner before. It gives me the strange sensation that I’m living two lives — one here, in the real world — and one there, in my dream world. It’s haunting. Maddening, even. How do I defeat an enemy that isn’t real? How can I begin to decipher what this damn book means? Why does it keep showing up? What does dream me know that waking me needs to see?

I chose to write a post on this topic because in many ways, it helps me process what I’ve seen — asleep or otherwise. But mostly — I wonder if anyone else can relate. Are there others that have interconnected dreams? Others who are at war with themselves?

Once again — I’m left wondering.

September 11th, Ongoing

I felt compelled to write about September 11th today, being that is the 15th anniversary. Fifteen long years, and I still can’t wrap my brain around this day. Perhaps it’s not meant to be understood, or perhaps I’ve made all the sense of it I can make. Whatever the case, it is, annually, a day for me to reflect on how far humanity has come, or regressed — and how much our world has changed since that day.

Like most others who lived through the horrific event that was September 11th, 2001, I have clear, awful memories of that day. I was in 7th grade band class. As I was traveling from band to my next hour, I remember seeing some of my friends crying in the hallway, saying their brothers, fathers, and uncles would be headed to war — I didn’t understand. What had happened in the last 50 minutes that I missed?

My next hour was math, I sat down and like the rest of my classmates was eager to hear from the adults in our school what was going on. They said they couldn’t tell us. They didn’t know enough. There had been a bombing, they said. The whole country was on high alert — unsure of what would happen next. The rest of the day was business as usual; the adults acted like nothing had happened but word was spreading quick that something big had happened on the East Coast.

I got off the bus and hurried home. My mom was worried, and I could tell she had been crying. She sat me down and told me what happened. I cried. We cried together. We watched the news all night and cried more. Even then, not quite 13, my heart broke for the thousands of victims and their families, friends, and loved ones — whom had just gone to work on another normal September day — never to return home again.

Now, it’s been 15 years and the students I teach weren’t even alive to remember that day. Today, I am grateful — because it’s Sunday, and because I live to see another day filled with the ones I love and cherish. But I’m also grateful that I’m not at school for my students to grill me about the events of today’s past. I know they are simply curious — they’ve heard the story, seen the pictures, and they want to know more. So I always indulge and tell them, even though it breaks my heart every year, and every year I still shed more than a few tears for all the innocent people who lost their lives and lost their loved ones that day. No matter how I explain it, it will never mean to them what it means to me. They will never understand the pain we felt as a nation that day. They will never understand why I cry year after year; they didn’t live it. You can’t understand unless you survived that day.

For me September 11th is a day that will always hold extreme significance in my life. It may sound dramatic to some; and yes, life has continued on and our world has changed tremendously. Much of the change in the United States can be tied back to the events of September 11th, 2001, even fifteen years later. If you’re a big picture thinker like me, perhaps you too, can understand why this day is always heavy on my mind, come it’s somber anniversary. It changed so many things about our nation, our society, and our government. Still, we live on high alert. There isn’t a person today that doesn’t know the word “terrorism.”

Life has gone on, and on; yet annually, September 11th comes and goes, and with it, the healing is ongoing. Fifteen years later, the healing is still ongoing. September 11th, the events, the legacy of this day, will forever be ongoing.

May we never forget.

Dreams

Most people have their biggest dreams as children. When we’re small, faced with the question of what we want to be in life — most answers are ambitious, if unrealistic. Young children have big goals; to be an astronaut, a professional athlete, to be president, or a singer. Yet somewhere along the path between youth and adulthood, we’re faced with the harsh reality that many of us will never achieve those big dreams, for one reason or another. Life gets in the way, so to speak, and we often stop striving toward those things we once so desperately wanted.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I knew that I wanted to be happy. And I wanted to do something I enjoyed. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not like most people. As a child, I had realistic dreams — to graduate, go to college, and get a good job, doing something that paid the bills, that would give me a decent quality of life. I never strayed far from that goal. As I got older and neared the end of high school, I was forced to consider why I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to accomplish. Still, I wanted something I could enjoy doing, make a decent living, and be happy. After changing my mind again and again, I decided to become a teacher.

The job itself is an adventure, and I have watched myself become better because of it. I have made friends and learned valuable lessons because of it. But yet — I’m not as happy as I could be, and that weighs heavy on my mind. You could say I am the opposite of the norm. As I have gotten older, and learned more, the bigger my dreams have gotten.

Now, at almost 30 — truly nothing seems impossible. I finally have the confidence, ability, experience, and grit to go for what I want and achieve it. I always tell my students to set achievable goals. Start small — those small goals add up to larger triumphs. I know that as fifth graders, only so much of what I say and what I teach them will stick with them in the long run. Ultimately, they will have to learn for themselves what they want from life.

But me, I think I finally know what I want. And I lack nothing to get it.

Paradox

Do you ever wonder how often you cross the mind of someone else? Do you ever wonder how other people see you? How many dreams you’ve been in? How many alternative lives you lived?

I wonder all the time.

The gift of empathy, they say.

The gift that keeps on giving.

I can’t even handle my own emotions well. I’m a bit of a spitfire. I don’t have much of a filter. I’m prone to be the one to tell you like it is.

So the universe blessed me with empathy.

The ability to feel what others feel.

So here I am — the ultimate paradox. Unable to process my own feelings, yet burdened with all the energies of everyone around me. I’m what you could call an emotional tourist. Prone to ride the highest highs and the lowest lows — depending on the mood of the party.

That “party” is my life.

Lately, I find myself dreaming more and more of old faces, old states of being.

People who once meant the world to me; people who walked away.

Or I walked away from.

My whole life I have been likely to engage in toxic friendships.

I wanted to “fix” the greediness and selfishness of others.

Because that is simply not my nature.

And I can’t imagine treating another human the way some have treated me.

So I awoke thinking,

How often do I cross the mind of those who no longer know me?

How often do they dream of my face?

Do they stop to think of me?

Do they wonder what became of me after we parted ways?

I suppose part of being human is never truly knowing how another sees you.

When it comes down to it, we are born alone.

And we die alone.

We can never know who we were, or who we are, to someone else.

We can never know how significant or insignificant we are in their game of life.

I wonder all the time.

Misfit Mind

The biggest thing I miss about college is writing. If you’re like me and can often better articulate your thoughts on paper, rather than in conversation, there is something quietly fulfilling about the process. Having your thoughts read — but only the ones you want read. See, I believe reading words has more impact than speaking them. Speaking is temporary. People will always forget what you said. They will not forget what you wrote.

Writing is a beautiful thing because printed words can be revisited time and time again. When you write — a part of you is infinite. You are unforgettable. Your voice lives on, even after your body has stopped. That’s why I don’t understand people who say they don’t like to write. What a wasted talent. Inevitably — a wasted life.

Writing is the purest form of self-expression. It is truly organic. No two authors write exactly the same, nor should they strive to. I try to teach my students that the most important thing about writing isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Your style. Your voice. Each is unique, individual. It gives us beautiful diversity in literature.

That’s why I don’t understand people who don’t like to read. Literature comes in so many forms — poems, plays, stories, songs, novels — and in so many topics; there must be something that appeals to you. What better way to learn, than to read. Through reading we learn about ourselves, and we learn about our world — by escaping to a world that is not our own. I believe this is what makes certain stories timeless.

Literature is the expression of the human experience. Whether it be a tale true to life or a story of magic spells and far-off places – we invariably find characters we relate to, which teaches us about ourselves and the world we are forced to exist in. As a 27-year-old misfit I have a laundry list of fictional friends, and have had dozens of fictional heartbreaks. When you read, those character’s experiences become your own. Their triumphs become your triumphs. Their struggles become your struggles. If you’re like me, reading bombards you with emotions you’re forced to deal with; things you perhaps wouldn’t handle well in your real life. Maybe I’ve just got terrible coping skills, but reading allows me to be a better person in real life. It allows me to understand others with more empathy. It gives me patience and perseverance when life is heavy. Perhaps most importantly — it gives me a safe place to escape.

Someday, I’d love to offer that same reprieve to a strange mind like mine. All I need is a brilliant idea.