I was always labeled “the quiet one.” It’s hard to say whether or not my childhood contributed to this at all. One thing is for sure: university has made me more independent.
I grew up in a home that wasn’t always stable. I have two twin brothers, both of whom were introduced to drugs and drinking at a young age. (Guess who gave them their first beer at age 15? My uncle.) They were also in and out of counseling and the John Serbu Youth Campus. This, combined with their ADHD, made for a very hard time at home.
I remember when I moved from my elementary school neighborhood and transitioned to a middle school in an new neighborhood where I didn’t know anyone. My parents told me (or bribed me) that I could get a cat to “help with the move.” Looking back, that offer seems cruel, but I was too naive to realize what was going on so of course I was excited. I had no idea what was to come.
I used to think that everything that happened to me during my childhood defined me. But now, thanks in part to my love for journalism, I know that it does not. I am 21 years old, and this is only the beginning.
I have never made friends easily. That is probably because I come off to people as not only shy, but stuck up. I’ve only just found this out from a friend, who told me that in high school, her crowd of friends wouldn’t talk to me because they thought I had no interest in them and/or just hated them. Upon hearing this, I was shocked and slightly embarrassed. I still stand behind my explanation that everyone has a reason for being the way that they are, but I guess not everyone keeps that in mind for first impressions.
I guess you could say that my childhood taught me to be quiet; shut my mouth. These words came from not only my brothers, but my parents as well; mainly, my dad. According to them, I taunted my brothers into physically and verbally abusing me. They said it was just “normal” sibling behavior. Now that is the biggest understatement anyone could make. When I was 12, my grampa offered to send me to boarding school because he was so worried about my safety at home. I wanted to take him up on it and I would have, but I think that as much as I wanted to get out of there, a part of me was also too afraid to leave.
Over the years, I’ve come to see just how much my fears have held me back from things. Fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of rejection, fear of imperfection; the list goes on.
It’s hard to blame my mother because now she says she just didn’t know what to do. However, it’s also hard not to blame her. She and my dad went to counseling, my brothers went to counseling, I went to counseling, we all had family counseling together… nothing seemed to work. We all saw numerous counselors, both on an individual basis and together as a family. What’s funny is the counselors all truly thought they were helping us. What they didn’t know is that as soon as we all went back home, things resumed as if we’d never talked to them.
I’m not trying to make this out to be some pity party, but in order to understand me and why I am so passionate about writing, you have to understand where I come from. Writing gave me the release I needed when my voice wasn’t being heard. I know how it feels to be the one no one listens to; no one believes. It sucks and it’s not fair. I want to be the one to give to other people what I never had.
My mission in journalism is to use my past experience to relate to others and people I will meet along the way. When sources know that who they are talking to is a real person and not just some drone behind a notepad out to make a buck, you’d be surprised what they are willing to share. Some of the best stories come that way, when they don’t even realize they’re being recorded and it all just seems like an everyday conversation.
My 9th grade history teacher said to me, “You have the power of the pen, use it and change the world.” And I plan to.