Laebum, 10th- Oakland, CA
For me, a good rule to live peacefully is to avoid talking to people as much as I can without seeming weird. Of course, if someone is respectfully talking to me I won’t completely ignore them, but in my head, the logic is, no one can bother me if no one’s around me. Another is to be upfront about my boundaries and intentions. People often try to befriend me and then are shocked or offended when they find that I am not an emotional or submissive friend. Communication is an important thing for me because I don’t have a typical personality, which can be challenging in creating new relationships. I like to have my space, alone time, and I do not do well dealing with others’ emotions, and every person who I’ve told this to has accepted and respected that or went on their way. To coexist with others I try not to make snide comments about people and their pastimes, and I only offer my opinion if it is asked for.
While I have a very introverted and standoffish personality I take into account what those around me need too. Living with an obnoxiously extroverted person I’ve learned to engage in conversation enough to satisfy talkative types while keeping myself comfortable. At last, I’m only human, and even I can’t perfectly uphold my code constantly, which is why I’ve been working on apologizing for offending or hurting people even if I didn’t see it that way. My love language is physical touch but I ironically don’t like people touching me, so I keep my hands to myself even if the touch could be considered endearing since I could understand wanting personal space myself. One of the most important rules for me to be able to live with myself is to treat negative thoughts as a separate piece of me, like a twin, rather than my true feelings. Since implementing this code into my life I’ve been able to do an unprecedented amount of self-healing, and I’ve known great peace.
Guerachina, 10th- Oakland, CA
Right now in the year I’m writing this letter we’re 15 going on 16. A lot of things have happened since we were 5. But I just want to tell you some things.
You will go through a lot in finding yourself, don't try to rush it, take your time and try doing some self reflecting on your actions or just on some of the things that have happened to you throughout your life.
There’s a time during 7th grade when you start to question your sexuality but you end up finding it out, it took a while but you were still able to discover it and grow from it because you are finally sure of one thing in your life. (Everyone knew except you.)
You need to keep in mind you can’t always make everyone happy by keeping a smile on your face when you can’t do it anymore. You need to give yourself a break and let yourself cry and have other feelings. Cause trust me it gets hard. As you start getting older it becomes harder for you to start feeling joy so it becomes harder for you to keep a genuine smile on your face. I just want you to take in mind yourself for a minute.
Moving away from all that life stuff, during 2020 a pandemic happened. (The pandemic was of coronavirus also known as Covid-19). When this happened a lot of things shut down like schools and stores and pretty much everything, the whole economy was shut down for business. But not all was bad. You did some growing you lost yourself but you are starting to find yourself again so that was great. But we’re still working on getting our happiness, the one we once had and the one we long to have again. I want to tell you things get easier and yeah sometimes they do, but gosh we’re just so mental and you’ll see why later on. But when you grow up please make good decisions for both of us, future me and current me.
Don’t do dumb stuff that can cause you to lose people you care about. Make somewhat good decisions, cause if you always make the good choices then your family is going to expect you to turn out like Fatima. Let me just tell you now though you are nothing like Fatima even though people compare you to her you are not like her. You have tried to become like her in the past but it always fails. So just remember you can't change your personality even as much as you try to. It's kinda not possible, because you yourself are your own individual person who starts to grow into something different then what your family would’ve thought.
A lot of the times you’re just confused with your feelings because of things from the past so you’re trying to be cautious. But right now we are in a situation and you don’t know what it is, and you're scared because you don't want to get hurt like last time. It took a lot of time to recover so just be careful with that please.
You’re still confused with many things. You’re confused on what you are going to do in life. You are confused on what is going to happen to yourself because sometimes you never know. Sometimes you get so bad and messed up it makes you wonder “What is happening to me” or “what is going to happen to me” they’re many things that happen that makes you think this. It has a lot to do with your mindset and how you are seeing yourself too. Sometimes bad and sometimes good. Another thing is your pronouns. You don’t know what they are for right now that's something I’m trying to figure out for you.
I want you to try and enjoy your childhood as much as you can because life gets tough sometimes so just try and value your childhood and value the time you have with the people in it, because there’s going to be many times in the future where you wish you hugged that person goodbye for the last time. Or when you got to hangout with your cousins and play hide-n-seek for the last time together. Hang on to those memories for me.
Sincerely your older self.
Nobody, 10th- Oakland, CA
The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing. It was last Wednesday when I was hit with the news. Usually we would have dinner with my aunt, Rosaria along with a few others. Instead today was a silent agony on a Thursday evening, a day from yesterday. It was a quiet day in Newark, New Jersey, where my head rested on a window frame. While the breeze of fall entered this empty room. Slowly darkening every bit of light that linger around. My eyes glared endlessly at the orange sky. I ruminate on the thought of death. Death brings chills down my spine. I know it will happen someday to me. And that someday happen to Rosaria. Am in the middle of my thoughts when the door cracked open.
“Hey! Earth to Zane my sister snorted.”
“Ma says there's dinner on the table.”
“Well, tell her I am not hungry,’’ I grunted.
I could hear the door open further.''You sure?”
“Yeah I am sure.” I nod anxiously.
"Hey if you need anything else, you know I'm here for you." Her fingers dig into the roots of my hair as she brushes it roughly.
The way she said it was crony to me, but I accepted her attempt to be a big sister. I exchanged nothing but a small grin. Once she left, I lay on my bed. Then pressed my head on a firm pillow. My arms reach for a photo of Aunt Rosaria smiling. While the sun shines brightly on her yellow dress, a tear ran down my face. I rub my sleeve across my face. I could taste the saltiness in my tear.
When I woke up. I could see my whole body. Like my soul went out. Though I couldn't move. There was a numbness all over my body. It was still dark. And the curtains were moving rapidly as ocean tides. Because I hadn't shut my window. Then a cold breeze swept through my body. Suddenly the room I was in vanished. I found myself in a room cover with nothing but white.There was Mae, my sister and my parents standing next to her. They stood backwards so couldn't see their faces.I just heard their voices softly repeating something until aunt Rosaria came. She walked slowly.
Then placed her fingers on my cheek. She stood there, smiling peacefully. It was an awkward moment of silence. As a warm sensation passed through the two of us. My arm slowly reached towards her, but a white streak crosses. I woke up, when a strong blast of sunshine steams on my face. I kept rubbing my eyes until I saw a beam of sunlight shine brightly through the curtains. As the warm fall air finds itself in. I got myself up.Then I took a look outside. I sealed my eyes shut. As the rush of wind entered my nose. I could smell the air. I looked at the photo of Aunt Rosaria smiling on my wooden desk. She smiled at me. I smiled back at her. I felt a bit better.
Amira L, 7th- Oakland, CA
When I turned 12, I made a promise to myself to be healthy and workout every day. My older cousin gave me weights for my birthday. So I used them obsessively over the summer break.
I built strength quickly. My arms got big and muscular. I beat every single boy in the seventh grade at arm wrestling. Even the tall boys with deep voices who thought that a girl their age would never beat them. I loved it. I loved proving them wrong. Even this one boy who thought he was so strong because he “did weightlifting and boxing”. “Amira’s gonna crush you if you arm wrestle her.” I heard some boys at a table gossiping. Everyone wanted to know my secret.
At Shabbat dinner one night, my grandpa leaned over the table and said it was a fact of life in a matter of time those boys would beat me.
While my arms were toned, they were certainly bigger and thicker than any girl in my grade. I got kinda self-conscious about it. Thinking my strong arms made me “fat” or “not feminine enough.” So I stopped my HIIT arm workouts, watching my arms shrink, being able to feel a coat of fat if I squeezed my arm skin tight enough. Sacrificing my health because I thought it was beautiful to be weak. And the day came. I felt my arm slip as my fingers hit the table. All the boys cheered. Was my grandpa right?
Students 6th-12th Grades