The following is a Flintside opinion piece by Flintside contributor Amina Smith. Have an idea for an essay or opinion piece you'd like to write for Flintside about life in Flint? Email [email protected].
High school. For most kids anywhere else, it’s a joyful time of self-discovery and laughs among peers as you dream about the lives you’ll have when you all graduate; preparing yourselves for the ‘real world.' But here in Flint, it’s always felt, for kids like me, we’ve always been a part of the 'real world' from a young age, and it’s caused some real problems that generations before us have also dealt with.
Growing up on the north end of Flint, I lived in a nice house with a nice yard and a nice enough car that sat in my driveway like many other children.
What people wouldn’t guess is that in that same nice house, I grew up without either of my parents. And on summer days, I stood in that nice yard watching the drugs and violence that ran rampant through my neighborhood. And in that nice car, every day, I glanced at the same abandoned buildings and homes wondering what they must have looked like decades before I or any of my immediate family were born.
Before high school, my peers and I, who grew up in similar circumstances, were able to recognize the difference between a gunshot and a firework. We often had discussions about the things we’d seen in our day-to-day lives outside the safe sanctuary of school, and how things with us would be different once we all graduated and finally left Flint to be able to chase dreams and opportunities our elders never did.
These were kids who I played games with, won spelling bees with, and competed with to always make the honor roll and Dean's lists. Fast-forward a few years and these same peers have traded in textbooks and candies for drugs and more dangerous vices.
To be honest, watching the transitions of people once we entered high school was quite difficult and often made me nervous and sad. Due to the fact that I’d always ask myself, 'how much more of my environment could I take and be exposed to before I too crack under pressure to fall victim to what could be inevitable?'
During my high school experience, I have always stayed home to study, avoided going to parties with classmates, and never let myself indulge in certain 'extra-curricular activities.'
Although this was mostly deemed boring or stopped me from being able to connect and relate to my peers in the present, it was all because I realized that as a high school student in Flint, temptation is around every corner, making it easy to fall into the old, tired, and repetitive city blues of Flint.
With that said, while being a young scholar in Flint isn’t the worst position to be in, it isn’t exactly the greatest, but it is great knowing that there are things beyond Flint and places I’ll go that will expand my mind along with my view of what the 'real world' is.
I plan to make a change and impact on society, not only as an aspiring journalist but also as an author who will write my vision of the future while inspiring others and chasing all my dreams for the children of the past.