Unfiltered Reality

This blog’s purpose is to share raw, unfiltered language used by clients to describe their lives and experiences at the Young Women’s Resource Center. I asked girls a variety of questions, and I quickly typed all of their answers as they spouted them out. It is important to note that it is impossible to capture the authentic meaning and purpose behind each phrase, and that despite my best efforts, this is a blog written by me and has the bias of my lived experiences. With that said, enjoy the heartbreaking, inspiring, hopeful, tearful and comical realities of my beautiful young girls.

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How long have you been coming to the YWRC?

5 years, 3 years, 1.5 years, 6 months

Why do you keep coming back to the YWRC?

It is a safe space to be you. It’s fun. It’s interesting, and I learn a lot about myself. It’s confidential. It gets me out of the house.

What topics have you benefitted from the most?

Relationships (literally all the girls yelled this at one time, the importance of this topic was well represented), bullying, feminism, talking about gendered words, self-esteem.

What do you love most about the YWRC?

Ahh that’s a lot!!! Doing activities we have never done. Having the ability to talk about things that matter. Meeting new girls from different schools.

(When I asked this question, before anyone said anything, many girls pointed at each         other, indicating that the YWRC is the awesome place that it is because of the girls that attend group.)

If you could change something about the YWRC what would it be?

More food. More YWRCs around the Des Moines area. Girls being more respectful in group. This place is [email protected]

What are some challenges you have faced during your teenaged years?

Depression, suicide, death, anxiety, molestation, body image, self-esteem, pressure from parents, expressing your identity to your family.

What has helped you with these challenges?

Coming to group and talking. Venting to friends. Being heard. Having a support system. Nothing helps.

What advice would you give other teens knowing what you know now?

Live while you are young. No one is perfect. Be you. Be beautiful on the inside. Be smart about decisions. Guys come and go. Don’t give up your dreams. Don’t post negative thoughts on Facebook. Don’t take things for granted; some day they will be gone. Always love yourself before you can love anyone else. Don’t bully others. What goes around comes around. Don’t post nude photos of yourself anywhere.

What coping mechanisms do you practice when you are feeling low?

Read, listen to music, hug people, cry, snuggle with my cat. Hot showers are   physically and mentally cleansing. Shut off your phone and do things around the house. Set goals for yourself.

What advice would you give your parents?

Don’t assume you know everything. Some things aren’t what they seem. Don’t snoop; respect my privacy. Give me more freedom. Appreciate me. Trust me more; you gave birth to me. Just love me please. Take me seriously.

What are your dreams or passions? What do you want to be when you grow up?

Nurse, general surgeon, vet, zoo keeper, working with children, fishing, physics, math.

If you could scream something to the world right now, what would it be?

People are stupid! Let others live their lives! LGBT rainbows are awesome! Be proud!    I’m gay! Be happy! Stay true to yourself! Be kind! I’m sorry! I’m not stupid!

Name one female role model you admire.

Mom, aunt, singer Louna Ray, sister, neighbor, single moms, teen moms who follow their dreams, singer Nicki Minaj, singer Lady Gaga, Sia (a singer who hides her face       because she hates the idea of fame. She also wants fans to comment on her singing        opposed to her appearance.), Marilynn Monroe.

Use one word to describe yourself right now.

Confident, tired, clumsy, smart, overachiever, stupid, lost, beautiful, horrible, heart-broken,  loving, friendly, confused, worried, proud, scared, in pain.

What is your biggest wish for the world?

Stop killing, world peace, stop bullying, hear me.

How do others perceive you?

Mean, stupid, “slutty”, ugly, lazy, independent, crazy, quiet, pregnant, funny, smart.

How do you perceive yourself?

Fat, kind, good friend, fun, outgoing, overachiever, smart, scared, talented, resilient.

What do you aspire to be?

Compassionate, wise, motivated, better at making life choices, smart, kind to myself.

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When I finished asking these questions, they said, “So I’m guessing you took all the “bad” stuff out, like that I feel horrible a lot, or that I think about suicide sometimes.” I said absolutely not. I think this made them feel as if their true feelings were validated. Writing this blog unedited sends the message that the realities of these girls doesn’t need filtered. As one of my coworkers once said, “We don’t need to tie up their struggles and showcase them in a well sculpted bow.” They are enough just the way they are. They need celebrated in their victories and supported in their struggles, and that’s why the YWRC is here.