“Anyone pretending to be something that they’re not will never become all that they are meant to be.” – Oprah Winfrey
I am a pretty caring person. I work… HARD. I give my best at everything I do. Here’s my story:
There is a behavioral facility that works with teenaged girls and boys. The children are placed in the facility by the system based upon their statuses. This can vary… waiting for a foster home; no family at all; severe behavioral issues; moderate learning disabilities; runaways; home issues…etc. They provide housing, outings, credit recovery for classes (if the kids are behind) and school…. you get the picture. It sounds great. The boys stay in one facility 10 miles away from the girls. I worked at the girls facility. My experience was quite different. I often felt like it was Orange Is The New Black meets Girl, Interrupted instead of a place to encourage and help young girls grow until they were released.
I used Oprah’s quote to say this. A teenaged girl can enter a facility and not have too bad of a behavioral problem and leave worse than what they previously were upon incoming. They would have to adopt this nearly prison like mentality in order to survive during their time there. As we know, prison mentalities DO NOT make it far in this world. I saw one girl who reminded me of “Crazy Eyes”; YES she LITERALLY acted like her. I saw the “Wise One,Claudette Pelage”; she never told anyone her reason as to why she was there and spent time reading and solving the Rubik’s Cube in 5 minutes. I saw “Taystee”, the friendly talkative person. I saw “Piper Chapman” and “Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett”. I saw the “Lisa” (Angelina Jolie) character. I saw “Georgina” the pathological liar. I saw “Susanna Kaysen” who had Borderline Personality Disorder. It was all there before my eyes.
These girls had to become a product of the environment they were in, in order to survive. Them pretending to be someone that they weren’t prevented them from being the BEST they could be to even possibly get out of the facility sooner. For most, the habits they developed became part of them and they carried them out with them when they left. I believe this is where the system has failed them. I don’t believe in bullying. I don’t believe in not disciplining a child or not holding them accountable for their actions. I don’t believe a child should be allowed to figure out this world through experiences like these.
For me, I applied it to myself with them. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I could only do so much. At times, pretending to be a prison guard authority figure backfired on me quicker than white on rice. I got threatened, cornered, swung on, and pushed. Being just simple me, I touched the hearts of 6 girls out of the 20. I could relate to them at times. We, as humans, are confused, conflicted, and a little crazy at times in our lives just like these characters. I used my times to help where I saw needed. The girls I did have the opportunity to work with and talk to are now leaving the facility. Their grades, personalities, and behaviors did improve. I know some issues they have within won’t go away but I see they learned how to deal with it instead of acting out. One day, instead of going to work, I met with my director. It took an hour and a half for me to get out of my car. I didn’t know what I actually wanted to say. I sat in front of him and talked to him casually. By the end of the conversation, I gracefully resigned from my job. I just could not handle it anymore. I had to look out for myself at this point in my life. I mean this by saying, I could not STAND for or be around watching how the system failed these girls. It did not sit well with me and I wanted no part in it.
For my girls,
I wish you all nothing but the best. I pray for you all daily. Carry on the couple of things that I did have the opportunity to teach you and pass them on to others. You all are beautiful and amazing. Please stay that way. Love yourselves.