The Story of My Life

“It’s who you choose to be, not who you are,” my friend Derick once said as he took a sip of his coffee. It was three A.M. when he decided to perform with his guitar at the courtyard outside of Illinois University. Only a select number of friends were invited, I didn’t even know who Derick was, but Derick and I shared a mutual friend, Karissa. According to Karissa, I’m genuinely silly, awkwardly quiet, and extremely paranoid. I grew up with a sensitive little brother, and we both eventually had to accustom ourselves to my mother’s boyfriend of six years and half sister of four years. Everything seemed so difficult back then. Though I lack some experience, look up to an amazing person, and have suffered through some family conflict, I’ve learned how to be a better, more responsible and motivated person.

Strongly, I believe variance within a family is really just like a test to see if a family can still remain together. All the conflict mostly began the moment my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was working in her cold, grey cubicle when the doctor phoned her to tell her she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. My brother was the first to receive the news and was told to keep it a secret from me. I’m still not fully aware of why my mother wanted to keep this a secret from me, but once I found out, I was devastated. It felt wrong because my mother has always been a healthy person; she works out, eats healthy and doesn’t drink or smoke much. It was also striking because my mother was so young when she was diagnosed. Reality struck. It doesn’t matter if people are healthy or not because a disease or cancer will come after an individual anyway, sometimes out of nowhere. It isn’t fair, but then, life isn’t fair. My mother and I don’t often discuss the matters of her cancer, but when we do, we usually laugh about it. To make fun of our rather distant family members who’ve only recently found out about her cancer, I often say to my mother, “Oh! You had to go through chemotherapy? You poor thing! I had no idea! What was it like? Did you lose weight? OH MY GOD! IS THAT WHY YOU HAVE SHORT HAIR?!” She then laughs about it and we get into more serious matters, like the steroids they had put her on so she would eat more. Or the fact that she was unable to get out of bed to take care of her one year old at the time. We talk about how the glue that held our family together was unable to hold everyone together and how I had to step up for her and take care of her daughter while keeping the house clean. Everything was just so unfortunate back then. I started school a month after everything began. A scared little freshmen in a big scary place: getting lost in the halls due to weird number systems, forgetting my locker combination, etc. wasn’t my main concern. The entire time my mind went back and forth to my mom, my sister and my duties at home. I felt that I didn’t need to be at school and that I should’ve been at home where my responsibility lie. After about seven months of chemotherapy, my mother then had to go through radiation treatments. She said she felt better and decided to go back to work. So she bought a brown wig because she was ashamed that she lacked hair and went. Work was difficult on my mom. True, she only had to work in a cubicle and though she didn’t have a lot of physical pain from her job, she had strained with her mentality. It was hectic at work because without her being there the previous months, there was a lot she had to catch up on.

Another family conflict I had trouble with was when my father left for Hawaii. The last day I spent with him was at my grandmother’s apartment on the North side of Chicago. We watched the Lindsay Lohan version of The Parent Trap in my grandmother’s tiny living room. My father sat on one of the loveseats, arms crossed, eyes barely open and my brother sat on the living chair. It was a moment I won’t forget because it was the last evening I would ever be able to spend with my father. The morning he left for Hawaii, I was overwhelmed. He left only a week after my mother had been diagnosed with cancer and him leaving made everything worse. I recall being so overwhelmed with it all, I hadn’t even gone to say good-bye to my father. I just let him leave without saying anything to him and I truly regret that. My father dropped my brother and I off at my mom’s and I didn’t even bother looking back. I just ran in and began to cry. The tears were automatic; it was like I couldn’t stop them. I moved about, free from myself, free from reality and tried to pretend like the world I once knew wasn’t falling apart.

Having no motivation at all at this point in my life, I turned on the radio one evening and there began my introduction to the greatest music I’d ever hear. The song ‘Helena’ by My Chemical Romance blasted through out my pitchfork red room. I was full of angst and it felt like the songwriter was writing about my current situation. I knew immediately I had some sort of connection with this band, so I asked around about them. Turns out, none of my friends were really big fans of them but they knew someone who was. Her name was Alicia and she was obviously a huge fan of the group. She was dressed in all black and she had the prettiest icy eyes. We got around to talking and suddenly, I found myself engrossed in the band. She explained how much the band meant to her, and how incredibly attractive they were to her. She was obsessed. The songwriter and vocalist, Gerard Way has been my biggest influence ever since I heard his song on the radio that one special night. Despite the fact that I’ve never met him and probably never will, he has helped me see the world for what it really is. He’s taught me that no matter how much society shuns a person for being themselves. People shouldn’t be ashamed of whom they are and people shouldn’t judge people for being themselves. It’s hypocritical and ignorant. Biologically people are all really the same and to judge someone based on their exterior appearance. Even the ugliest person could be beautiful. Now, I have more friends who enjoy listening to My Chemical Romance and who look up to them. These men have improved their talents and have worked hard to be where they’re at right now. Only time will tell how legendary they are right now. My friend, Karissa, is just obsessed with them. They too, are her favorite band and her and I mostly discuss music. We talk about how much My Chemical Romance has changed our lives and help us become better people. If it hadn’t have been for this amazing band, I would probably be a completely different person. My interests wouldn’t be the same as they are now and I don’t think I would’ve turned out as happy as I am now.

Though I lack some experience, look up to an amazing person, and have suffered through some family conflict, I’ve learned how to be a better, more responsible and motivated person. With hard work and determination, a person can be whomever they choose to be. What sets me apart from others is that I’m not ashamed of being me. I’m proud that most people look at me and automatically assume I’m twelve – that’s it. I can’t change myself and I wouldn’t want to just to please people. In the end, I hope to have lived a happy and successful life.





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