the irony of saturday night

by Faith M., 16

It’s been ten minutes. My notebook lays open, waiting for me to tell it all the gossip of the day.

It’s been fifteen. I can’t find a pencil. I can’t find the story I want to write. I can’t find a lot of things.

I can find my YouTube playlist, which helps me to decipher all the thoughts running ragged in my head.

I can find pictures of my family and my friends located on every inch of my walls. I can find all my certificates that mark my accomplishments over the years, on my desk.

I can see my reflection: she’s paused in time, waiting for my next move.

She’s hesitant, she’s confused. Confused as to what I am going to do next.

“Will you choose to live in the darkness, or will you choose to love yourself? Will you make the next moment good or bad?”

I want to yell at her and tell her to stop judging me. I want to erase her away. I can’t.

I could move out of the frame, but my shadow lingers in the distance. Distance I’ve put between myself and my anxiety.

I notice that these are parallel versions of myself. Me being the one who relies too much on someone else to decide how to feel; me being the one who stays behind, so close, but yet struggles to find her voice.

I can pick up the pen. I can realize that what I write is authentically me. Someone who doesn’t always have to be perfect; someone who isn’t defined by the number of scratch marks on her paper.

I will pick up the pen. I will get through this. I will learn to be kinder to myself.

I will write as if I am speaking for others. I will help them to love themselves.

Most importantly, I will be me. Daughter. Cousin. Student. Advocate. Strength. Hope.

Say hi to the pencil for me.

Jackson, New Jersey