Happily Be

Poem from YOUR L!FE: Young Voices from The Write of Your Life™, Anthology (to be released Winter 2014) by The Write of Your Life™ Student

As she walks through the door after school,
there were things that were secret, only she knew.
She knew objects would be thrown.
She knew the names would be called.
She knew pain would greet her.
She knew inside would explode, flooding with pain.
She knew hate in her veins would begin to thrust.
She knew her scream would be heard by none.
She knew nobody that would attempt to make it stop.
None of this was new.
She had gone through a lot, even some growth.
She will not let her school be affected.
She will not let the pain define her.
Without friends, she is left with her brilliance,
and her mask of childish laughter and her joy
that conceals a life of horror that is true.
But she is not alone.
There is one thing she has―her books.
What she loves is to read about happy things,
about magical places that are faraway, peaceful and safe.
When she reads, she can feel that sort of happiness
she likes to wear on her mask for all to see.
The great happiness that she swears and dares
to someday be with her book in hand, always free.

I am Me and I am Proud

Excerpt from YOUR L!FE: Young Voices from The Write of Your L!fe™ Anthology (to be released Spring 2015)

When you call me fat, do not worry.
I know it is you,
not me that has to change.
I know I am beautiful just the way I am.
I care less of what people think,
because I know and celebrate the real me.
You may call me stupid;
but I know I am intelligent and smart beyond my years.
Look at the way I expose my real self.
I am me and I am proud.
Hope is what I want.
Not for me, but for you,
to see that I am beautiful just the way I am.

Dear Bully

Poem from YOUR L!FE: Young Voices from The Write of Your L!fe™, Anthology (to be released Spring ’15) by WWW Student

Dear Bully,
You’re wrong!
I know who I am.
Smart, beautiful, and funny.
You might not like that,
but it’s because you’re JEALOUS.
Believe in yourself.
You are wonderful, too.
I understand you.
But, just know,
You don’t have to be a BULLY.

Dear Victim

Poem from YOUR L!FE: Young Voices from The Write of Your Life™, Anthology (to be released Winter 2014) by The Write of Your Life™ Student

Dear Victim,
I know it was WRONG,
You are beautiful, smart, and funny.
I just wanted to feel the same.

Father’s Words

Excerpt from YOUR L!FE: Young Voices from The Write of Your Life™, Anthology (to be released Winter 2014)

Learn the good in me, not the bad
But if you so happen to learn the bad, learn from it.
Learn to stay on your toes.
Learn to take care of yourself, you don’t need a man’s help.
Learn to work hard for the things you want.
Learn to stay happy.
Learn to always get up and try again.

Learn

Excerpt from YOUR L!FE: Young Voices from The Write of Your Life™, Anthology (to be released Winter 2014)

Learn to appreciate the life around you,
Learn to never question your capabilities.
Learn to get back up if you can, while you struggle,
or without a doubt after it.
Learn to have fun despite the reasons you feel you shouldn’t.
Learn to be yourself and live proud of it.
Learn to be forgiving and understanding,
But most of all, learn who you want to be.
Learn how much your father loves you,
and how much your mother loved you, too.
Even if you feel your mother has abandoned you.
Learn to appreciate you got to meet her.
Learn to love yourself,
and learn to appreciate even what you cannot see.

Dear WWW,

I want to move out of my home in a year when I turn 18, but I’m scared.  Each of my older sisters said the same, but now they’re in their 20’s and still living at home. Do you have any advice?

Signed, 17 & Scared

Dear 17 & Scared,

Moving out and being on your own can be very scary, but very fun.  The fun part is gaining your independence and being told less what to do.  It can feel really good.  But, you have to be ready.  You must examine your motives and like any big decision in your life, you should make a PLAN and stick to it!  Don’t move out on a whim or because of an emotional reaction or fight with your parent.  And don’t do it because someone is pressuring you.  Do it for YOURSELF and only after you’ve created a PLAN.  There are some instances, such as when you’re being exposed to violence or economic struggle, where you must move out abruptly.  That’s when you can ask for help from shelters, treatment centers and supportive friends and family.

But if you’re just interested in moving out to gain your independence, then take your time to create a reasonable move-out-plan and commit yourself to getting a job before your big move.  Create a “budget,” addressing all your expenses and income, so that you know how much you must be making to move out.  Sign up for a checking and savings account so you can build up a reserve of cash.  You’ll need it for things like moving expenses, rent, appliances like a fridge and microwave, towels & food, turn-on utility fees, and rent.  As with any big life choice, you need to know the costs, benefits, risks and rewards.

Once you have a steady job and understand your budget, think about getting a steady means of transportation that is WITHIN your budget.  Don’t live above your means-it’s not attractive.  Depending on your budget, it might mean a car, bus, metro, bike, or just walking.  It doesn’t matter how you get from Point A to Point B, but it DOES matter that you’re ON TIME, SAFE and CAN AFFORD your means of travel.

To keep costs down, see if you can find a trusted roommate, like a family member, friend, or friend-of-a-friend, who can help share the rent.  Make sure you check into their background and ask questions because there’s people out there who can take advantage of you or have “issues” you DON’T need in your life – like addictions, drama & peer pressure.  Hit yard sales and discount stores to keep the costs of furnishings & home goods down.

Don’t forget to consider going AWAY to college too, because that can help you move away from home and gain your independence while gaining a degree.

Also, be mindful that you’re going to be spending time ALONE when you move out, so make sure you find something that can keep you busy.  Consider a hobby like racket ball, helping others, starting a business, or volunteering at a place like the community pantry.  Also, strive to find your strength and passion.  Be mindful of depending on others because you want to create your financial savings to accomplish your goals.

If you have a supportive family, ask for their guidance though this process so you can make a smooth transition to your new place.  But if your family is not supportive, make sure all your arrangements are in order (job, school, apartment, roommate), then write a letter to your family and read it to them about why you have made your decision to move out.  If you don’t write it, be sure to spend a little time thinking ahead about what you’re going to tell them about your move-out.  Watching a young woman become independent and moving out of the home can be very emotional for parents and siblings.  So, let them know you’ll return to visit, are available to them and would appreciate their support.  Keep in mind to deliver the news with empathy, putting yourself in their shoes, and delivering it realizing they will be affected by the news.

Then, JUST DO IT!  Take a leap of faith!  It’s always going to feel scary, but if you just do it AND DO IT RIGHT, like by planning ahead, you will feel good about your decision to move out.  Don’t forget to stay on track with your goals.

The truth is that when you are no longer getting family financial support (even if it’s just a roof over your head), it can be really challenging.  So make sure you’ve prepared yourself in advance for the hardships you expect to face.  This preparation comes from making a budget, being honest with yourself, and talking to others who have taken the same leap of faith you wish to!

Good luck,

WWW Voices from Southwest Juvenile Hall (Spring ’13)