When I lived in the Dominican Republic, I was a follower. Overall, I followed along with what everyone else liked, but there was one unique thing that I especially enjoyed more than anyone else — writing. I have always loved writing because I have always loved anime and I wanted to create characters. Anime was different than the many other cartoons I watched when I was little. It had a sense of storytelling and diversity in content that made me like it more than other cartoons from early on in my life, and the thought of creating an anime of my own and inventing a new subject of my liking was something I wanted to do for a long time. The feeling of being able to put all of my knowledge into this thing that I fell in love with from such a young age was an amazing and exciting feeling, and a new experience for me as well. As I grew older, I drifted away from writing because it was not in line with what my friends liked. I stopped doing what I liked because I wanted to be just like my friends.
One time, on a random day in school, I was doing what I usually did back in those days… writing on a piece of paper, bored in class, late into the day. This time, I was writing about this one girl I liked. This was eighth grade, so I was still in love with the idea of writing to girls. I tried showing it to a friend of mine, and the girl I wrote the piece about. When they saw what I did, they just laughed. The disgust on her face after reading it crushed my heart. I felt so mad and sad because I really wanted to make everyone see me in a different way, and I thought writing would do this. When my writing failed me, I decided to stop doing it.
Two years later, when I moved to the United States, I had to stay with my grandma for a long time. At first, it was pretty normal, but then it became an experience that wasn’t really pleasant. When we’re surrounded by negativity, we become negative. The problems and the bad vibes inside the house, and the overall situation, in general, took a lot of my positivity. I lost the willingness to do anything, and I found myself focusing on energies that hurt me during this time period. It left me in a bad state of mind, and I was going through it all with major changes going on. The fact that I had to bear with a new style of school was difficult and so different from what I was used to.
The difference between high school in the Dominican Republic and the United States is like night in day. From the education system to the people, everything was different. In the DR, everything felt normal and equal. We mainly had the same background, we shared the same life stories and we all did the same things. Perhaps because of this, it also felt like we also misjudged people on what they liked. When I was in the DR, it felt like being different or going against the norm was a bad thing. In the United States, people seemed to have more diverse backgrounds. They tended to have lots of different interests and didn’t always relate to each other. The big changes that came with a new school and new life in the US came fast. I didn’t come as a younger child. Instead, I got thrown into high school right away. I couldn’t relate to anyone and was an outsider. I was the “new boy” in everyone’s eyes. All of this was not helpful for me during my first year of high school. Even though I was a good student, right away one of the best at my school, I didn’t have friends to rely on.
When I was in my new school, surrounded by new people, I needed a way to deal with everything going on. I tried listening to music that I really liked during my years in DR, but that didn’t help that much. If anything, doing this made things worse because it reminded me of everything I left behind and the people that were always there for me. I went deep inside my head and decided to open that lock that I long forgot about, something that I knew was my favorite thing to do. Basically, I decided to open myself up to being “me,” and began writing again.
This decision came to me after looking inside myself and seeing that I was alone, and needed something that would make me happy. I didn’t have anyone that would bring me as much joy or happiness as writing, and I knew writing would ease my mind. It was a helpful way for me to deal with the many things that were happening in my life in such a short period of time, and was one of the first of many decisions that made me realize that I needed to do things based on what I liked instead of what others thought.
This basically turned my whole life around. Writing helped me get through many problems, and it helped me think about the many wrong things I decided not to do or the things I never got the chance to. When I started writing again, it was difficult to keep up with my mind’s pace because of how out of touch I was with myself as a writer.
I tried to write about the things I wrote in the past, things that were more about love rather than creativity. I tried to write as if I was the same person as before, when I lived in the DR. Then I realized that it would be better for me to think about how I had changed as a person and a writer since I moved to the US. These changes lead me to finally creating my own stories with my own characters.
One day, I decided to show my writing to a group of my friends in the US. I was worried about doing it because of my experiences back in DR, but I tried it anyway. As it turns out, a lot more people liked my writing because of how real it felt to them. They started telling me how good it was, and I felt really good about myself once I showed them. For the first time, I felt proud of my writing and my decision to follow through on being myself. I was fully accepted by others instead of being clowned for doing what I liked.
Now, I’m a very independent person and I see how all of those previous challenges and insecure feelings helped me realize how important it is to just be myself outside of what anyone thinks of me. I’m doing better now, but I still struggle to find happiness. School is still as easy now as it was before, which is one thing I never lost focus on. My writing has evolved a lot from when I was younger, and I am proud that I have become a writer without the fear of trying to do anything new and spontaneous. I keep trying my hardest to become better every time I write, but always try to keep my comfort zone in place. Through this process, I feel as though I have grown up and opened up about being me, thought on my own and realized that I can do things if I put my mind to it. I might not be the best person I can be all the time, but I work very hard to fight my personal demons and best myself ‘til the point that I find myself being happy about myself and what I do.
This experience was a very bittersweet one, but it all happened for me to learn and tell my story. I hope my story can inspire others to change their ways and to just be themselves. And, even now, people in DR love my writing now that I have evolved and made more progress. In fact, my writing has even inspired my friends to write now. These events, and my journey as a writer, remind me of the evolution of a Butterfly. Butterflies need to stay in a cocoon, stuck and waiting to free themselves, to first flap their wings and fly forward. This happens when changes, little by little, lead to a big transformation.