Things Will Always Get Better



Serinah Kingsley


 
© Copyright 2020 by Serinah Kingsley



Photo by Slawek K on Unsplash
                                        Photo by Slawek K on Unsplash



 

To start I wasnít exactly handed the best hand of cards to begin with, given most people arenít but I think itís important to know what my own personal challenges were so this is where Iím going to bring those up. When I was younger I didnít realize how strange my family was, having a father who was in his late sixties and a mother so obese she had to be in a wheelchair, I didnít even realize we were poor until entering college. Besides that my childhood was pretty good, I had a great relationship with my family and though I didnít end up making friends until middle school I was happy. That is of course until I was placed in foster care, I think was about seven when it happened, from what I understand the reasoning was my household wasnít good for raising a child so until my parents met certain conditions Iíd be put in the system. Now I didnít really understand this when it happened, I kinda saw it as camp and Iíd still get to see my family, which I did, every weekend which looking back I am so grateful for.

The first foster care house I was placed in seemed like itíd be fine but soon turned sour. There were a total of four other girls there, all sisters and all colored and almost immediately three out of four seemed to dislike me. So much so that they did some stuff that Iíd rather not write aboutÖ.Anyway, I tried to tell the parents about how they were treating but I was simply written off as a liar and soon enough they were done with me and I was sent off to another foster home, this is the home I still live in today. Not long after arriving at this new home my father ended up dying, I distinctly remember standing in the hospital room with the rest of my family watching the heart monitor, it was silent and the air heavy. I donít quite remember how I got there besides entering the car in tears and being handed an oatmeal cream pie, a snack my father and I would always grab after finishing a paper route. It hurt but I pressed on, I went to school, kept my grades up, and fell into my drawing and reading more.

The family that had taken me in this time was a young couple, Nicole and Ken who had a baby daughter named Abby who was maybe a year old when I first arrived. At first they were very kind, I could tell Nicole was trying to make me feel welcome and Ken tried but didnít really seem to understand some of my actions, to this day we still donít see eye to eye, I donít think heís a bad person just not very compatible because of conflicting ideologies. As years went by however things got more tense as they began to expect more of me and while I admit I was lazy some of the comments made really hurt, I donít think I realized how much they hurt. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the easiest way to get through the day was to simply stay in my room, be quiet and not try to defend myself or else theyíll see me as a burden and get rid of me, this of course didnít do anything to help my dwindling self-esteem and already low self-confidence.

Then not long after I turned thirteen my mother died as well which led to me officially staying with Nicole and Ken since I had nowhere else to go. Similar to my fatherís death it hurt but there was such a chaos after her death. She had recently bought a house so midst mourning we had to help move everything to the new house, I had to wrap my head around the idea of never being able to return home, my brother Jeremy left for Missouri days after her funeral, the only blood family I really had left at that point was my brother Justin who moved into the new house. Honestly, despite the tears I was really just moving through the motions, I went to school the day after finding out my mother died because ďI have tests and quizzes tomorrow.Ē I was required to see a counselor because of her death and honestly it didnít do much, not because they werenít trying but because I had already come to terms with it, even the counselor agreed that she really didnít need to be there. I acknowledged my pain, admitted that it hurt sometimes but also that my parents would want me to be happy and to continue doing my best, so I did.

High School was when I really began to start finding myself, I made some true friends and joined a total of three clubs: literary, drama and interact. I stayed a member of all these clubs all throughout highschool and even helped start an art club during my senior year. I became treasurer of interact club, despite the teacher in charge urging me to run for president. Like usual I managed to do pretty well in school, all Aís and Bís even if I did struggle I managed to make it through. My emotional health was also starting to get better as I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and had friends who I could really trust and rely on. Up until then I never really had people I could open up to besides my blood family but after my motherís death I was left alone, I tried to open up to Nicole and Ken but it also seemed to backfire so I quickly stopped doing that. It was during these years that I was sort of forced to become independent, I realized I couldnít always rely on others and the ones I could rely on was very scarce, I had to try to do everything myself and only when I got desperate ask for help, Iím still kinda that way but Iím working on it. When it came to looking at colleges I had a lot of voices telling me to apply but no one to really help me in the process, that is until I started talking to my guidance counselor. She gave me basically a checklist of things to do and well I did them, Iíd occasionally for advice or sheíd double check something but everything looked good. When my family, what Iíve been calling Nicole, Ken and Abby, found out they panicked a bit thinking I must have done something wrong and had me talk to Kenís father-in-law to double check only for him to say it all looked fine too.

In the end I ended up graduating from my highschool with honors, a few scholarships and one of the top students in my shop, because I went to a technical high school studying IT, which got me a new laptop. When it was time to finally move into college I was excited, it was a place full of new faces, Iíd be living on my own and studying something I cared about. Two of my best friends from high school even ended up going to the same college! Fall 2017 I found myself a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth majoring in computer science. I honestly adjusted to college life pretty well, got myself a work study and began to check out clubs. It did take me some time to make friends besides the ones I came with but by sophomore year I did, that is also the year I realized how much I hated programming and that I really wanted to help people. So, after about a semester of internal debates in my head I switched majors from computer science to sociology, which of course many people thought I was crazy for doing but I didnít care. This was my life and I was going to follow my heart, sure I didnít know exactly what I wanted to do but even with just a few classes I could tell it was a subject I cared about, and didnít regret my decision.

College is also when I finally decided that maybe I didnít want to die alone and started to give dating a shot. I had been asked about before by guy friends but I always rejected because I simply wasnít ready for a relationship. So when one of my guy friends asked me out during this exact time frame I accepted, with a warning that this was an experiment and he shouldnít get his hopes up. It started off fine and I did grow to like him but started to become clear that we had very different plans for the future and ended up breaking up. Weíre still great friends and the experience allowed me to learn a lot about myself, such as the fact that Iím asexual. Apparently, the thought of me being ace didnít come as a surprise to many of my friends who had already guessed it, I have casually avoided the topic with my family believing that they wouldnít take me seriously even if I did tell them. But as stated before by being in a relationship I learned a lot and in future endeavors Iím going to make it clear to the person what to expect and what not to expect hoping that neither one of us has to face that kind of heartbreak.

And with that we have reached the present day, currently I am in Boston doing an internship at the Cambridge Womenís Center with a program called Semester in the City and well Iím loving it. Iíve gotten to work on so many of my professional skills, make new friends, explore Boston and well, do even more soul searching. During my time here Iíve started to really think about what I want to do with myself when I graduate and I think Iíve found an answer, to become an academic advisor. Itís a career that would allow me to help students navigate the chaos that is college, help direct them towards their own career goals and just in general have the chance to make a difference in someoneís life. Offering that support that I wish I had and being able to use the skills Iíve developed to help others. If I can say Iíve made a positive change within just one personís life, then I can die happy and fulfilled. But thatís just me and my story, Iím sure all of you reading this have faced your own share of challenges and I want you to know that you're strong and youíll be okay. Life can be cruel and cold, but it can also be bright and full of joy. Whatever it is you're going through now things will get better, things will always get better.


Serinah is currently a junior at UMass Dartmouth majoring in Sociology. Although she's had no professional writing done it has been a hobby and passion of hers since she was little. In recent years her desire to improve her writing (and hopefully get something published) has been rekindled by her experiences during her time at college.





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