A light in the dark

Student learns to make the most of life


Photo by Emily Meinzer

Photo Illustration: For the sake of appearances, parents often force their children to participate in activities they aren’t interested in, such as cheerleading.

Story by Colton Johnson, feature editor

She smiles, and through her smile, she glows. She is vibrant. She radiates a presence that has the power to ignite a room. She is a light, and that’s all anyone sees.

What they don’t see is a confused, 4-year-old girl trying to understand why her parents filed for a divorce.

What they don’t see is a depressed, 12-year-old girl, angry at her mom for making her try out for cheerleading to become a trophy worth showing off.

What they don’t see is a struggling, 13-year-old girl being kicked out of her house.

What they don’t see is a broken, 16-year-old girl, crying in a quiet room with a handful of pills.

What they don’t see is a silent, 16-year-old girl lying in a hospital bed. At this point, the light inside her is hardly flickering.

No one sees her past. They see her in her in the present. They see her smile.

Her unfaltering smile is a complete contradiction to her past she emerged from.

Since she was little, she and her mom had never seen eye to eye.

“We never had a really good relationship. She cares about titles more than anything,” she said. “She always wanted me to be popular, which is why she made me try out for cheerleading, and I hated it. I always wanted to try karate, but she said that was a boy sport.”

She was always struggling to meet her mom’s unreasonable standards of who she was supposed to be and what she was supposed to become in life.

“I was always being compared to my older stepbrother,” she said. “I never seemed to be good enough for my mom.”

After battling depression and being kicked out of her mom’s house, she was ready to give up. She had hit rock bottom only to find that the separation from her mom was her escape. The only way for her to move on was to be forced away from all the negativity and unreasonable expectations.

“I haven’t seen her in three years and I’m glad,” she said. “I’ve never found myself wishing she was part of my life.”

After middle school, she moved in with her dad. Things began to get better. She was finally given the chance to breathe and discover the girl she had been hiding for years.

“My mom had no idea who I was. She was wrong about me. She has never treated me like I was her daughter. I was always something that she wanted to show off, and now, I am actually starting to become more of who I am today,” she said. “I am happy. I love living with my dad, and my life has gotten a lot better since I moved out.”

She was never allowed to grow into the person she wanted to be. She didn’t get to choose her past‒nobody does. However, she is growing and building upon her past that is shadowed in darkness. She is looking towards better times. She is growing. She is blooming. She continues to smile, and she continues to glow.

“Living in that situation where you’re being told what you should be, you can’t be happy. You’re not you,” she said. “I should’ve stopped them from making me someone they wanted me to be, and instead, started being who I wanted to be. People say I’m weird for saying it, but my one goal for the future is just to be happy.”