You're judging me. I'm Kaylin, and you know absolutely nothing about me. But, you think you do. You know my name. You know that I have short blonde hair. You know that I have ice-blue eyes. And you probably know that I'm a little bit different than others because of the clothes I wear, or the way I carry myself. Other than that? You know nothing about me. My grandfather often tells a story about me that happened right after I was born. He held me, as I opened my eyes for the very first time. He says that as I lie in his arms, my “big, beautiful, blue eyes opened and stared” at him. He says that from that moment, he knew I was going to be different; he knew I was going to do amazing things (Charles L. Norris). I love when my grandfather tells this story. Sometimes I actually ask him to tell it. It makes me feel unique and special. However, this story proves that from the very moment I opened these “big, beautiful, blue eyes,” I began to be judged. I see your faces as someone slightly different than you moves through the world. I see your eyebrows furl. I see your smirks. I see. And, with only a grain of salt, I assume that you are judging the person that's in front of you. The person that's expressing their vulnerabilities to the world through their clothing, stride, and language. The person that you do not know. The person that you have made absolutely no effort to talk to, learn from, or get to know. Maybe that person is me. Maybe it's someone else. And, as I do realize that this is somewhat of a judgement I'm making myself, it is no secret that humans are afraid of what we don't know, so we begin to make assumptions, and belittle others. I knew from a young age that I was different. I had so many friends up until middle school, when I started choosing the clothing I wanted to wear, or the activities I wanted to participate in. I got the combat boots and the leather jacket in the 7th grade, and everyone made fun of me. By 8th grade, everyone was wearing combat boots and leather jackets, I had just moved on to the next best thing. In 8th grade, I also discovered my sexual orientation. I liked boys and girls, who would've thought? No one, apparently. I told one of my good friends at the time, and I was outed pretty quickly to my entire middle school. These kids that I knew since kindergarten. They all left me. They didn't understand, so, they left. I get it. I'm not one to play the victim. This generation is so full of people victimizing themselves with everything they can. I refuse to be a victim, and I refuse to be defeated, however, these kids that abandoned me? They were you. They are you. They are me. I even abandoned myself. The countless nights I laid awake wondering if life was even worth holding onto anymore. The numerous lines I drew across my skin that will forever be white scars upon my flesh, reminding me of what I went through. I was alone. But I forgive you. I forgive you for not being there. I forgive you for abandoning me. For instilling depression and anxiety deep within my bones. I forgive myself, for wanting to take the most precious thing to my parents away. I hope you can forgive me, too, for my seemingly selfish actions during this treacherous time of my life. I was raised in a conservative, Christian household, with two very stable and hardworking parents who showed me all of the love in the world. When they discovered what I was going through, they didn't have to help me. But, they did. They provided me with all of the resources I needed to get better. Therapy, psychiatry, and group DBT. DBT stands for dialectical behavioral therapy. I participated in this DBT group for six months. In this group, I learned how to be mindful. One day we focused on the way we make judgements as humans, often to protect ourselves. We sat for an hour long in silence, letting whatever thoughts and judgements came into our heads dissolve. It seemed so silly at the time, but after that day, I had completely changed. In that silence, I had a revelation. I decided that after everything I had been through, it was other people's and my own judgements that had been ruining me. I pledged to myself to never judge someone I didn't know ever again, and to stand up for those whom were more prone to being judged. Through this, I have helped to save multiple lives, by being that one friend that understood. I have learned more than I would have ever learned with being close-minded and judgmental. I don't understand a lot of things, but I try to. And I pride myself on being a strong critical thinker who sees all sides of an argument. Now you know a few small things about me. Through these hard years I went through, I truly believe I came out a better, stronger person. A person who is thoughtful, uncritical, and no longer afraid. You don't know me. You think you do. But you don't. Cited Sources: Charles L. Norris, Grandfather of author.