When I was growing up, my younger sister was the extrovert in the family, so her voice tended to be heard more than mine. Additionally, due to being rather short and incredibly quiet, I was heavily bullied throughout my school years. As the years progressed, I began to have dark thoughts about my potential future and the possibility that my parents had more love for my sister than me. When I turned 18, I threw myself into the drinking and the clubbing scene with my friends. I was always afraid to talk to people about my feelings and what was going on in my head because I figured they would never understand as my parents often didn’t when I tried to tell them—people would often dismiss these moments when I was hurting or feeling down because they knew me to be quiet.

When I dropped out of university in the second year, however, adulthood hit me quite hard. I did get a full time job that gave me a large number of responsibilities, and I kept myself busy enough not to have to think about my feelings.

Being in the workforce for a few years and living in the world led me back to university. This time it helped that I went in knowing I was a quiet person, who had a deep understanding of the feelings and emotions of others. I made a large group of friends, but I still had to deal with a lot of the older boys—with whom I played football—making fun of me. But I was accustomed to it and patiently took it in stride. In the final year of my degree, I began seeing a counselor to manage my feelings of entering back into the adult world. It has been three years since then, and I am now working full time as a teacher in the UK after completing my teacher training in 2013.

Although I am still quiet and more emotional than many of my friends and the people I work with, I find it really easy to connect with people, especially my students. I have learned to use my poetry to manage my feelings and communicate my emotions and experiences in a way that holds my personal voice but allows others a glimpse of what is going on without demanding the attention. I love being who I am now and would not trade my past for any other.