He is a mirror, always reflecting what others want to see. Friends, parents, teachers, coaches, the random kid in the hallway; they all expect something different, and he has become a master at portraying it. They see right through him, overlooking the faint cracks in the glass.
What they don’t know is he’s been shattered; broken to pieces. He cut himself off from those all around him as he slowly pieced himself back together. But he’s not the same. This time, he has to be careful. He has to protect himself.
During his freshman year, he walked the hallways, surrounded by numerous students, feeling overwhelmingly alone. He used to be nicer, friendlier. But he got tired of feeling like a welcome mat to his “friends”. He needed to protect himself with walls in order to hinder others from ever knowing his truth. His face hardened in the frame, and he was no longer trusting, but cautious.
“Ninth grade was really rough, I don’t know why. I went into a pretty deep depression. Real sad, real down. I felt like there was no way I was getting out. I was emotionally distraught. I was still reflecting ‘I’m okay’… in reality I was just shattered glass. I was broken.”
He felt the pressures of the universe telling him to always be strong, but life was rough. And he had to survive.
“In tenth grade we were at a point where we didn’t have a lot of money. I wasn’t eating at all, and I was playing a sport. There was no way I could do it. I became klepto. Everyone knew. It became so regular for me – a habit. I’m getting food, because I’m hungry and I need food. I regret having that happen because it set me up. It became a habit I couldn’t break for a while.”
He walked the school’s halls everyday, and practiced everyday, and told people he was okay. Maybe even trying to reassure himself more than anyone else. The hunger pains were sharp though. It wasn’t a visible pain that others could see and know about. It was hidden, but consistently there – serving as a reminder to his secretly enormous lack of food. The nagging pain seemed never ending.
But things started looking up. He’s stronger because of it; mentally tough. And he discovered that life is not fair, but also realized that if it were, he wouldn’t be where he is today. So, he tries to make the best of his situations.
“Look for your ‘x-factor’, hold onto it tight, and then use it to your advantage. Mine is being able to keep pressing on no matter what, and finding a way out. I’m coming out ragged, but I make it out. That’s the thing that’s important to me. I know something else is going to come up eventually. Let me embrace what I have now. Know what’s bad, hold onto what’s good, and make it through. That’s what I do. And to everyone who doubted and said I wouldn’t be good enough – watch as I become greatness.”
*If you are a senior and would like to share your story, contact Justine Walton (firstname.lastname@example.org).