Families is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.
How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.
How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.
To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.Show less
I have to say, my life has truly been blessed. I've been told that my childhood and even teen years have been better than my oldest siblings. I've been told that I have more freedom to do things than they did when "they were your age." I find it kind of funny because even with all this freedom, I've still felt restrained from myself. Don't get me wrong, I love my family to bits and pieces, but we all have those moments and sometimes we have our whole lives questioning if we even fit in. Mine just happens to be my whole life.
First, let me tell you a bit about myself. I grew up in Wisconsin, moved to Florida at the age of 10, went through my emo phase in 2011 - 2015, discovered K-pop, my enjoyment of writing, and have interesting friends who are so very different from each other. I'm not much, really. Just your every day, shy, down-to-earth, hyperactive, ambivert girl. Oh, yeah! I'm also not comfortable with swearing, which people find odd considering I'm a walking teenage hormone surrounded by peer-pressure. Let's start from the first time I felt this out-of-place burden.
I would say I was about 8, maybe 9-years-old. Growing up with a Christian family, things can get religious real quick. I practically attended church since the day I was born. I felt out of place every time I went but never realized it was because I had friends around who were quite distracting, in the best way possible. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying I don't believe in God and Jesus, I just feel there's even more that happened. Religion was pretty much out of the question for me, but I still kept my Bible I got when I was 5 or 6-years-old. Not only is my entire family Christian, I'm also partially gay, Pansexual for a term.
Only two of my family members know and I think I might have slipped up in front of my grandpa. He didn't say anything. On one side, we have my father who honestly couldn't care less if I was blue, pink, gay, straight. My mother might mind a little, but probably just a few days. Grandparents? You know how they are. They're like the final say in situations and can be oh so very old fashioned! Imagine, you're eating breakfast with your young sister and Grandmother, Jerry Springer on the TV, your grandma looks up to see a gay couple and starts speaking about the Bible, preaching the heck out of it! "Gay is bad!" "Gay is a sin!" "It should be MAN and WOMAN!" Ever so slowly, you and your sister grow uncomfortable, slowly looking at each other, knowing that one of us is a sinner and she has absolutely no idea!
That's not all, my reader! Summer of 2018, I was standing in my grandmother's room. She speaks of my younger sister's parents (we do not have the same parents) and how they are Atheists, saying how sad it must be to live not believing and trusting in God and Jesus Christ, speaking of the Devil and how it's his work! I'm Atheist and as an Atheist, I feel I should explain the difference between a Satanist and an Atheist. Very easy to understand, I promise! A Satanist worships Satan, an Atheist lacks belief in God. See, simple.
I had no idea how to react! I so badly wanted to say, "I think my life is very enjoyable and cheerful!" Then I remembered who she is and you NEVER talk back to your grandparents, ESPECIALLY a black Grandma. That is a path you do not want to walk down, believe me with that!
Skip forth to 2013, it's the middle-ish of my emo phase. Never felt more out of place! Before I continue, let me just say, I have ALWAYS listened to "emo" music because one of my brothers listened to it around me. "It's not a phase mom, rawr XD!" I would tell her. I recently discovered that my mother cancelled most of those years out just waiting for it to go away. Don't take her the wrong way, she's a whole-hearted sweetheart, but honestly, if you saw those selfies of me you would want to cancel it out, too. I, myself, want to cancel it out. The horror! I went to school in hoodies and jeans for four years. Reminder: I LIVE IN FLORIDA! I was going to school wearing hoodies and crewnecks with my skinny jeans and converse in 90+ degree weather! My mom never let me dye my hair or get facial piercings though. She was not having that. I have to be honest, I didn't care too much about the piercings BUT THE HAIR?! I wasn't having THAT. I didn't go behind her back and do it. I was emo, not a rebel. I stole a Smarties from a teacher and put it right back and let her know the second she walked into class.
What could POSSIBLY make me feel more out of place than finding out that four years of my life was pretty much cancelled out and mostly ignored? Getting into K-Pop. November 22, 2015. My best day and my family's worst! The day I got into a growing, Korean boy group, BTS. I'm actually listening to them right now! I enjoy music. I'll listen to anything if I like it. I don't pay attention to the language AT ALL, I focus more on the beat of the song rather than the language. No, I do not speak Korean. I look up the English lyrics to the songs I listen to. Most of my family doesn't do what I do. They focus on the language. They don't ignore that and just enjoy the song. They let the language barrier block them from enjoying it, but you have to think. Music is universal. There was a time when only the sound a piano or an orchestra were the lyrics and if you liked it, you liked it. If you didn't you didn't. There was no such thing as a "language barrier" stopping someone from enjoying something.
I remember sitting on the steps of my stairs, crying my eyes out in front of my oldest brother. I texted him earlier asking when he'd be done with work and that I needed to talk to him. He came home right after work, called me down from my room, and asked what was up. I just started bawling, telling him that I didn't even feel like I belonged in this family. I felt as if my own mother didn't love me because she very rarely praised my successes and only pointed out my failures. It always seemed as if it was a "you could have done better" or "try harder, you're not trying hard enough." It felt like what I was doing was never enough even when I did my best. Now it feels like whatever I do is because of K-pop. I grab a bag of some snack that I usually don't eat and it's "because one of her Korean idols probably eats it." In reality, I'm just craving something I usually don't, but no one really listens. I'm just cancelled out.
Too loud, I'm told to be quiet. Too quiet, I'm told to speak up or asked if something is wrong. It's like a rushing river that is overwhelmed with water and is about to overflow on to the land that it has only touched just once, but just barely. I'm constantly contradicting myself. If I'm speaking too quietly, I'll speak up and then I find myself being too loud and I try to speak softer but I get too quiet again. I don't know how to control my own voice because I've always felt as though I never had my own. I was always spoken for. Spoken on behalf, couldn't speak my opinion because I was too young even if I did understand the situation. I was just cancelled out. My voice was yelled over by everyone and I've grown to talk softer because I'm scared to speak louder.
I can't think of a time I truly felt accepted. I had always been the odd-ball, the one that not many people talked to and when they did it was other odd-balls but even with them I felt out of place. I try to explain myself and I get lost in my own words, losing track of my thoughts because there are so many things to talk about. Astronomy that I don't understand, Sex that I haven't had, Philosophies I hope to explain better, Dreams I wish were real and Relationships I wish I had. I try to explain myself, I really do but it never comes out right. I end up looking crazy, like something is wrong with me. I'm lost. I don't know how to re-explain. I trace back my steps and can't find where I went wrong because everything makes sense to me and I can't figure out how to have it make sense to everyone else.
I say I have anxiety and I'm told it's just shyness because "I was the same way you are when I was your age," she would tell me. "I would sit in my room all day, listening to music, drawing, blocking out the world," she would continue. I never responded. I couldn't. How could I tell her that I don't sit in my room listening to music and drawing? How do I tell her that I listen to music, not to block out the world, but to block out my thoughts that will haunt me and drag me into a dark abyss that I don't want to visit?
"I can't sleep without sound in the background." "I'm the same way." "I don't think you understand. I have dark vivid thoughts. They feel real. They bring me to tears and they're only ones of the people I love dying." "I have those, too." "Then how do you sleep so soundly in the dark?" A vivid imagination is both a blessing and a curse. It's not like photographic memory. I don't remember everything. I think something and it feels real. Almost too real. I tell my friends and my little sister gets jealous about it, excited about the fact that I can think of hugging anyone and it feels as if it's really happening. But what happens in nightmares? Thankfully, I don't really have many and when I do they end with me having victory. That doesn't stop me from waking up when they happen, burning up and sweating. A vivid imagination is nice. I don't know anyone who can relate. It makes me feel out of place. No one would understand what it's like when your power goes out and you're left in the darkness, scrambling to find your phone as you keep your mind distracted from the dark, gory thoughts that immediately run towards your brain, just long enough to turn on music because your TV is no longer an option.
I dyed my hair for the first time—it's black now. I've been spoiled all my life, really. Ask for something and I usually get it. 2008, I got a Wii. 2013, I got the WiiU. 2016 I got an iPhone 6s. 2017, a PS4. A keyboard, laptop, and a karaoke machine. Spoiled, right? I've had a good life. I'm privileged, honestly. I won't deny that. I'm grateful for everything. I don't think I deserve any of it. Not a single thing, not even the clothes I'm wearing as I type this. I feel I haven't done enough to deserve anything I've got. I didn't do anything to deserve the things I've gotten. People work day in and day out and barely get a thing. I did what? Woke up at 5:30 - 6:20 in the morning and went to school? I did nothing to deserve this special treatment. But I'm greedy. I don't want to give anything away unless I have absolutely no use for it. Contradicting myself.
I'm told I have all this freedom, more than my two oldest siblings had, and yet I still feel I have nothing. I still feel I am tied up in a small titanium box with no space to move and a couple holes here and there, curled up in an uncomfortable position for someone who is five-foot-seven. A box within another box, this one is bigger and transparent. This holds a more open area, where I can stretch and be free, but it's holding me down. Outside of this transparent weight is everyone I know, everyone I will know, staring at me with blank faces. Not moving. I feel like a confusing piece of art on a wall at a museum. Everyone stares but they don't entirely understand what's going on.
While I have all this freedom, I can't seem to reach it. It's so close but feels so far and I'm constantly battling with this small box that is myself. Written on the transparent glass, like a plack under the piece of art, is written "Freedom's Restraint."