When I was three, my mother took me to see the Elmo movie at the movie theatre. There was a scene where someone stole Elmo’s blanky. I sobbed quietly to myself in the theatre, clinging desperately onto my baby blanket. People do that? I thought. People take things? Nobody was going to take my blanket. I looked at my mom with worried, creased eyebrows, and asked, “Why would they do something to hurt Elmo?”
I looked at life through a very naïve and innocent lens. I was shielded from all things evil and violent, sick and twisted, mean and cruel. I thought everyone was nice. I thought everyone should be nice. Why wasn’t everyone nice?
There was a point where I would blame my mother for tying that blindfold around my head. It seemed as though I was shielded from every semi-mature movie, video game, or news story. I wasn’t allowed to play violent video games with my dad. I wasn’t allowed to stray much farther than my backyard. A sleepover with a school chump was a concept that I thought only existed in cheesy Disney Channel films. When 9/11 happened, I couldn’t comprehend the events that took place. I didn’t understand why we were at war with another country, and what war does. Did people actually die?
But then she took the blindfold off.
I saw the news. I played the video games. I watched the movies. I saw the bullies act out in public school. I saw kids cry. I witnessed people steal. I witnessed people lie. I saw kids who didn’t study for tests. I saw little kids get kidnapped on the news, so close to their own homes. I understood how many people died on 9/11. I understood how many people died every day. I understood that not everyone in the world had clean drinking water. I understood that people were dying in the war. I understood death. I understood that it meant the person goes away, forever. People don’t come back when they die. So many lives are taken every day, for no good reason.
I think I still put that blindfold on from time to time. It’s an unrealistic thing to wear, really. You put it on and the world is fake. It’s safe. It’s happy. Everyone is living. The part that matters is when you take it off, and you are shocked at how cruel the world really is. And it’s real.
After I realized how the world works, I knew I wanted to change it. I can’t do it alone, and I know I have much more to learn. I’m 16. I don’t know everything. I still do stereotypical teenage things like fall for boys who only want one thing, embarrass myself in gym class, experiment with pot and alcohol, and befriend girls who are just plain cruel. I think about stupid decisions I make and I realize that I am a 16 year old girl, and these decisions don’t define me as a human being. I cling tightly to my non-violent way of living and understand that that is what makes me who I am; my kind nature.
I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do what I want to do. I want to influence others positively through various works of art. I want to create. Movies, stories, books, blogs. Sometimes I worry about my future. What am I going to do? How am I going to do it? Is anybody going to listen to me?
Worrying and wondering are both two things that are all part of the process, of finding yourself. I know who I am. But I haven’t met the full “Samantha” yet. Who knows- maybe I have another blindfold to take off.