Are you ok?

I hate this question, “Are you ok?”  My body cringes, eyes roll, and arms tense up when people ask me this.

I’ll tell you why.

I don’t think no one ever is “ok”. Let’s be honest. How about we define what ok is? Oh right. Ok doesn’t have a definition.

But let’s just imagine if it did.

“Ok is defined as being content with your life”

Well, if this is the case no one is ok. I don’t think any high school senior is okay that college is so expensive. That half of us, if we don’t get a full ride or proper scholarships, will be paying off student loans for a majority of our lives.

I don’t think our parents are ok. They probably might be when their children are first born and watching them grow up. But once their kids are teens and start not needing to be attached to mommy and daddy every day, parents aren’t ok. They feel their children are being distant or secretive or secluded. Need anymore synonyms?

How about cancer patients? Are they ok? I would think not. They didn’t ask to have a deadly disease eat at them every single day. To lose their hair, to lose their strength, to lose their life.

This is the same for

Addicts.

HIV and AID victims.

Alcoholics.

Are they ok?

How about the parents of Trayvon Martin, Hadiya Pendleton, or the Sandy Hook Victims? I don’t think they’ll ever be ok. No one can bring back their angels. No matter how many tears they shed, they won’t see their babies again. And the media on their backs like hyenas, probably doesn’t give them a chance to properly grieve.

I’m not ok.

I know for a fact I’m not.

I’m not ok that I’ll have 50% vision for the rest of my life. Yes, I’ve overcome it and I’ve used my disease as my motivation. But, at the end of the day the people around me have 2 eyes and I don’t. That won’t change.

I’m not ok that I’m sensitive. That every little criticism irritates me. That I over think everything. That I care about others more than myself. That this has been my personality since I was 5, and it still hasn’t changed.

I’m not ok that my love life sucks. That the girl that I love can’t see how much I care about her. That I’ve been struggling with my sexual preference since I started puberty. and that my sexual preference affects my religion, my family and my friendships.

I’m not ok that senior year isn’t what I expected. That the week of homecoming was the week of the funeral of my friend that committed suicide. That my speech season ended way too soon. That by telling the truth about how I felt about a show I was cast in, ended my theater journey. That I possibly can’t go to the college of my dreams because I probably can’t afford it.

That when I was at my ultimate high this year, I lost someone who was a dear friend. To another suicide.

And I blame myself every single day for it.

And that my life won’t be the same.

I’m not ok that the day before my 18th birthday. I’m worried about my sanity, my mother’s health,  about losing my best friend to something that I can’t change, and that I’m writing a blog like this with a heavy heart

SO PLEASE DON’T ASK

ARE YOU OK?

HOW ARE YOU?

WHAT’S WRONG?

I hate those questions cause they bring negative vibes.

This is not a blog to say my life sucks.

This is a blog to say life is hard, and it’s not getting easier.

Ask me.

“What’s good?”

“What’s great about today?”

or

“What are you looking forward too?”

Because these questions will bring positive vibes.

But just please don’t say.

“Are you okay?”

 

The Scary 6 Letter Word.

When you ask people what they’re scared of what are their responses? Spiders, the dark, cliffs, death, their grandma naked. It’s easy for people to respond with these answers. They’re normal, very typical, common answers. But an answer that may not come to mind is something that we encounter every single day.

CHANGE

Now change isn’t a physical thing that we can grab or touch. It’s simply a 6 letter word. So if it’s as simple as that why are so many people scared of it. My reasoning? Because you can’t avoid or ignore it. No matter what you do change is inevitable. From birth we are experiencing change. We enter a new world, with new faces, and a new atmosphere. Change is seen in every country, every family, and every human being on this Earth. I myself have experienced a lot of change in my life. Yes I’m taller, voice is deeper, hair is curlier, but it’s not just my appearance that has changed….

At 5 years of age I attended McDade Classical School located on 8801 South Indiana in Chicago Illinois. The only address of a school that I have went to that is memorized in my mind. That means something. I ADORED that school. The teachers were so nurturing I didn’t even look at them as adults. They were my friends. I loved the fact that my Mom and Grandma were 5 minutes away too. I mean literally if I forgot my lunch, or needed a change of clothes, or got stung by a bee they were there. My Mom was highly involved too being apart of the PTA and all. It was just great you know. No it wasn’t like my Mom and grandma held my hand the whole time I attended McDade but it was good to know they were there. The best thing about being at this school though was that I wasn’t looked at as DIFFERENT. When my parents finally told me the seriousness of my eye condition Glaucoma, I felt different. I knew from that moment on that I wasn’t like everybody else. But at McDade nobody cared. They loved me for who I was. I wasn’t looked as the boy blind in one eye. I was looked as the guy whose voice drops 5 octaves when he sings, the goofball who can make anyone laugh, and the orator who resembles a mini MLK. But that all changed…

I graduated McDade in 6th grade. The kids who I grew up with, my bestfriends, my brother and sisters, went on to Whitney Young, Morgan Park, Lindblom, Kenwood, and Harlan. But not me. Instead I enrolled into Parker Junior High School.

EVERYTHING CHANGED.

My Mom and Dad started showing me the bus route. Bus? But I always rode  with my Mom and Dad to school. We used to listen to WGCi on the way together. Laughing at radio djs.

But I guess things change.

I always loved the first day of school at McDade. Recapping the summer with my friends on the playground, making plans for the fall. First days changed when I came to Parker. When I came to the school in 7th grade, the first day was so empty. I couldn’t even put an emotion to it. I watched as other kids found their friends in class and at lunch. While I just tried to get through the day. Eventually people started to wonder who I was, where I came from, and what was wrong with my eye. But at McDade nobody cared. Why my glasses were thick? But at McDade nobody cared. Why my eye looked lazy? But at McDade nobody cared. Why I sometimes held the paper close. But at McDade nobody cared. Why I wore goggles for gym, why I squinted, why I got different tests.

BUT AT MCDADE NOBODY CARED.

When I left McDade, my school didn’t just change. I changed. I lost my confidence, I lost my light, I lost my sense of belonging. Eventually I found a few friends and made it to 8th grade graduation but I didn’t feel like myself still. But that changed…

When I walked into high school I told myself I was going have to change if I was going to be happy. So I started with my look.

I said goodbye to name brands clothes and got a mohawk. Image

Even though I liked what I saw in the mirror, I still wasn’t satisfied. So I was like maybe I should join some clubs. I was already in soccer. But with the losing streak my team was facing along with the bench player that I was, I needed something else. So I picked up speech and debate. NO THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. The only good thing that came out of debate was I got closer with my partner Brittany Bautista who is now my bestfriend and I became more aware of our world. But speech is another story. Speech brought back my confidence, my light, and my sense of belonging. Speech changed me. 

I had my doubts about Speech though. After my first tournament I came in 6th place in Poetry.

Image

And I didn’t even care about my poetry! I wanted to place in Oratory, which I didn’t at all. I thought maybe this is isn’t for me. Maybe I should change and do something else. I’m glad I didn’t go through with that change. My freshman year I made it all the way to sectionals in Speech, Sophomore year I made it to State Finals with my talented cast of Susannah, and Junior year I was a conference champion, regional champion, sectional champion, and finally a STATE CHAMPION.  But here’s the catch. I was a champion speaking about the one thing in my life that was the center of all my changes. My glaucoma. I developed the confidence to finally put my story on paper with humor, statistics, science, the whole nine yards. And then on top of all that I spoke about it to the entire south suburban community. I no longer was a victim.

I was a champion. Image

I changed.     

August 5, 2013, 11:32 p.m. So much in my life has changed. The kid known for his Phat Farm and Rocawear is now known for his signature bowties and being an urban nerd. The kid who was a soccer player and wanted to be a doctor when he grew up is now a thespian and speechie who wants to major in Journalism. More importantly the kid who grew up full of life then lost it finally found his purpose in life which is to inspire and now shines bright full of determination and aspiration. I am about to embark on a lot of changes in this next year alone. I am wrapping up my last year of high school and In May 2014 I will be saying see you later to the place that made me who I am. Then in August   2014 I will leave my hometown and beautiful family to begin an entire new chapter in this book of life.

Everything will once again change.

But this time I won’t be scared. I can’t avoid change or ignore it. But I can embrace it. And hey in the end, it’s just a six letter word.

C-H-A-N-G-E

Change.