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