Upon growing up, I was always the unique child. I was the one that, no matter what, stood out from the rest of the children around me. I was always positive, full of excitement, and highly energetic. My point of view, morality, mannerisms, posture and intellect seemed to be different than the rest of the kids around me. I was always full of joy. I remember waking up every morning excited just for seeing the sun shine through my window. There was just something about seeing the sun that brought a smile upon my face. To me, it was God saying, “Today is a new day, enjoy it.”

Before walking out of my front door, I always looked into the mirror and secured myself with an optimistic mind frame. This was a way to fill myself with positive energy. It made me feel hollow. It prepared myself for whatever the day would bring. The last thing I would tell myself was, “I can do this.”

While waiting outside for the bus, my intuition would always give me this stomach pain. This pain was familiar, because I would feel it very often. The pain grew stronger as I watched the bus drift around the corner. I remember this feeling as I am feeling it now. It would increase even more as I heard the screeching of the bus enter my ears. The bus awaited for me to step right on in. Even though I was aware that something bad was going to happen, I had to shun my feelings. I knew that staying positive was the key. So, as I entered the bus I would smile at the driver and quickly jump into the first seat available. I would get excited when I found a seat next to the driver, because I always felt comfortable around mature adults.

When I reached school, I tried to be the last one off the bus. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself, because I already knew I was the target. I never understood why, but every day I was misunderstood, judged, punched, harassed, clowned, and degraded on a daily basis. I could not comprehend why, because I was always happy. I was always positive. I mean, I liked everyone. I was never mean to everyone, but some reason the kids just didn’t seem to like me. They were so mean and hateful. At times, I feared recess, because it meant that I would have to roam around kids that lived to force my spirit to break. No matter what happened to me, whether it be punched behind the head for no reason, spit on, pushed on the ground, chased to death, or tormented with hateful terms, I never let it break me. I kept my head up with all I had and stayed positive. Although, inside I would ask myself, “What is wrong with me?”

This went on for years. It went on from elementary all the way up to high school. All I could do was endure the negativity, and I did. However, the older I got, the more I started to understand the difference between myself and humanity. Yes, I was different. Yes, I was shy. It was hard for me to find a group of friends that would accept me, because people figured I had a complex. So, I slowly started to become an observer. Since I couldn’t join them, I figured I would study them. After a while, this allowed me to understand that I was different. I was not like anyone else, but I still didn’t understand why. The answers were not there, and I had no one to talk to. This is when I started expressing myself through poetry.

My writings were my life. They were the only way I could fully express my emotions. They held every inch of pain I had endured my whole life. I wrote them each with great detail. Each one was personal to me, because they helped me cope with my struggles. I never allowed anyone to read them, up until I reached junior year. I had an English assignment that dealt with completing a book of poetry. I took this as God saying, “This is what you have worked so hard for. This is your time to shine.” Come to find out, I was the only student to make an 118/100. My teacher took me to the side and asked where I had got the poems from, and I stated I wrote them. She stood silent for a minute, as in shock. Then she quickly hugged me and expressed how they were brilliant, meaningful and so full of emotion. She stated how she had never been so touched and moved by the words of one student.

You see, we all encounter struggles on a daily basis. We have a choice. We can either let others ignorance define our own, or we can turn the other cheek. One who has emotion is granted the power of creating art, poetry, music, etc. Never allow the emotions to build up. Never allow the things you never state build up. Yes, you may fear stating what you have to say, but when you put what you have to say into art, its like speaking. Its like speaking without actually pointing the blame on someone, something or yourself. Its just a way of taking a bird out of a cage, bringing it outside and watching its wings spread as you set it free.

Express yourself anyway you can, because when it comes to creating art it’s not about talent, or technique, it is about emotion.

Tyler Hebert