Writing my own happy ending

Natasha Graham delivering the VOICE to Los Primos. (Jock Lauterer photos)


 

I have experienced a lot of disappointment in my 18 years on this earth.  These disappointments have been brought on by a number of factors: difficult situations, other people and myself.   I was very isolated as a child, and I didn’t have many friends because of my lack of human interaction.  But I’m not complaining; I grew up with pretty nice, caring parents, I lived in a nice neighborhood, and overall a pretty stable upbringing.  And I wasn’t exposed to a lot negativity outside of my family, until I started school.

Teen Editor-in-Chief Natasha Graham.

Teen Editor-in-Chief Natasha Graham.

When I began school and started interact with other kids my age, I realized just how mean people could be.  I don’t remember being bullied necessarily, but I remember this almost palpable sense that I didn’t fit in.  This feeling would continue throughout middle school and well into high school.

In the summer leading up to high school I remember having the very optimistic idea that it would awesome.  I would finally be free from the horrors of middle school, and I’d have so much more freedom than I’d ever had before.

In some ways I was right,  but in others I was very wrong.

I didn’t take into consideration that many of my incoming classmates hadn’t changed their image of me: a quiet, awkward girl. And I myself was still the same person that they remembered.

So, the end result was that nothing really changed — or at least I felt like nothing had changed.

Tasha gets a big smile from a reader receiving her Durham VOICE.

Tasha gets a big smile from a reader receiving her Durham VOICE.

I was very disappointed by how things were turning out and the never-changing loop that I always seemed to find myself in; eventually I became very depressed.  I was just so mad at myself for not having the guts to reach out to my peers — and to this day, I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of good opportunities and friendships that I could have had with my classmates.  I know that this divide does not exist only because of me, but still, I’m still disappointed with myself.

In my junior year of high school, after joining Partners for Youth Opportunity, I became an intern journalist at the Durham VOICE.  When I worked there, I wrote articles and I had to interview people in the community.

While doing this I realized just how many remarkable people lived here, especially people who ran different nonprofit community-building organizations and charities.  I got to connect with people, young and old, who performed selfless acts like volunteering, planting and setting up free libraries for young children.

Through my experiences at the VOICE as an intern and as Teen Editor-in-Chief, I’ve learned that it is important to meet and communicate with others — not only for the benefit of learning about them and what they stand for, but also because it will give you a new viewpoint on life that you may not have had before.

I am going off to college this fall, and although I am afraid that I will put myself through the same old loop of isolation again, I am going to do everything I can to get involved in campus organizations, clubs, social events, and make a true effort to get myself engaged in a community that makes me feel as supported and loved as I did when I worked at the VOICE.

And hopefully I’ll have a happy ending to write about at the end of my own story.

Thank you.

Serving as the VOICE Teen Editor-in-Chief put Tasha in contact people she would never otherwise have met — like Professor Yuan Yuan of Guangzhou, China, a Visiting International Scholar at UNC-CH. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Serving as the VOICE Teen Editor-in-Chief put Tasha in contact with people she would never otherwise have met — like Professor Yuan Yuan of Guangzhou, China, a Visiting International Scholar at UNC-CH. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Natasha Graham, a senior at Northern High School, is serving as the teen editor-in-chief of the Durham VOICE.


2 thoughts on “Writing my own happy ending

  1. Hi Natasha,

    I wish every teen could read this. You have such an important voice to share. As a mom of two teens and a professional working with teens, it breaks my heart to hear of countless stories of people feeling like they “don’t fit in.” Usually people “don’t fit in” because they (you) are uniquely gifted and have the strength and courage to be individuals and resist conformity.

    Congratulations on your graduation. I wish you the very best – don’t stop being you. God created you perfectly.

    • You know what? As one of Tasha’s mentors these past two years, i could not agree more. She is a lovely young woman with such a bright future in front of her — and we at the Durham VOICE have been blessed by her presence, her grace, her punctuality and her creativity. You go girl!
      Jock Lauterer, founding publisher, the Durham VOICE

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