Poetry Is My Safe Place

By Mikaila Rain

              All my life I have been called an Oreo; an anomaly who managed to be too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids. Always split down the middle; I guess I would say I am like a wallflower. A chameleon of assorted landscapes, lunch groups, and after-school activities. I have always been intelligent and well-spoken. Growing up I was a bookworm, give me an enjoyable book and it would be finished in 3 days max. I have always enjoyed words and the worlds they create. It is what made me so inquisitive, so passionate about speaking. It is also what made me so unliked by other students, too much curiosity turned me into a teacher’s pet, I guess. A target.

While growing up, my opinion was never valued in the way that mattered to me, sure I got good grades and had adults lavishing on me with kudos and praise, but that is not what I wanted. What I wanted was to be cherished by my peers. I wanted them to see that I was smart but that I was also cool; I liked music, going outside, the park, art, I liked what they did. I grew up feeling like a child but never really having people look at me as one. It comes with the territory of having a voracious appetite for knowledge. You get people who say “you’re mature for your age” in front of the people your age and any hope for connecting to those you can most relate with is stripped away like a band-aid left on for too long. Being intelligent is lonely sometimes.

              My intelligence has gotten me to where I am. I would not change how I grew up or was treated for anything in the world. I was no saint and certainly relied on my family and close friends throughout all the dark times. I will admit coming to Taylor on a full-ride scholarship unnerved me. Sure, I had qualified for it, but I had this voice that would constantly say that I could never live up to it. Saying that I would never be worthy of recognition despite any accomplishments I made. (All those years of bullying had somehow got to me, who would have thought.) Still, poetry changed that for me. In its most understated form, poetry is just fancy ideas. Though it means so much more to me now, it became the one place my thoughts and dreams mattered. Throughout my time in high school, I slowly fell in love with poetry. I stuck to the shadows though, kept my interest a secret unless it was in writing class or a late-night with my mom and brother. I had loved reading all my life, but to write and have people hear it. I was not too keen on the idea at first. I wrote things for class, for family and friends, God, and myself. I did not see the point in sharing outside of this carefully crafted bubble. It had taken me long enough to feel like it was good enough for them, why would I go and mess that up by sharing it with even more strangers?

A few times of performing my poetry quickly changed this perspective and now I can say I fully enjoy sharing a good piece and hearing some as well. I still struggle with fears and doubts about creating poetry with meaning, but I have learned to appreciate my work. The words and ideas I take countless hours to conjure out of my psyche are now something I hold in the highest regard. Now, my art does not just solely get its meaning from the attention of others, but because of the purpose, I put in them. That is what has taken the longest for me to realize about being myself. Whether my poetry becomes all that I hope it will or it becomes a memory, something I was known for in college. it will always be mine and for now, that is what pushes me to keep writing.

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