It’s Thursday night and my parents aren’t home. My 10-year-old sister, Tianna, asks if we can listen to music, so I go into my room and grab my stereo, which has really huge speakers that create a big, booming sound.
It literally jars the floors and walls when played at a high volume. For the next three hours, we’re jamming and dancing to Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson.
My mom cannot stand loud music. She says it disrupts the neighbors and is a lease violation that will eventually get us in trouble since our property manager scopes the hallways to listen for disturbances.
This is all old news to me. I just choose to ignore it when my parents aren’t home.
This is Bad Freddy.
As the oldest sibling in the house, it’s my responsibility to take care of Tianna. If she’s not supposed to watch TV until her homework is completed, I don’t become sympathetic and let her turn on “American Idol.” If she’s done with her work, then I’ll check it and give her the approval to have free time.
For the last three or four years, my parents have trusted me to take care of the house and act like an adult. I know what I’m supposed to get done with Tianna. And I do it. To know that your parents give you a lot of trust, it feels pretty awesome.
This is Good Freddy.
At times I feel like two different people. Every day at school, I find myself in situations where I lose control of my maturity and end up stooping to childish behavior. It’s boredom getting the best of me.
Things had started to change when I arrived at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. I was also a different person when I arrived there as a sophomore.
I didn’t talk to anyone unless there were in-class group activities. Even then, I didn’t say much. My teacher loved my quiet personality. She told me that I was mature and appreciated how I’d always inform her about my classwork. One of my past problems in school was a lack of communication with teachers. So far, I had removed that bad habit.
Two months into the school year, my peers had started to wonder why I was so reserved. “Freddy, stop being so anti-social. Talk to us.” I simply told them that I’d communicate when the time was right. It didn’t help that I had anxiety problems. Judgments always ran through my head, so I just kept to myself.
But slowly, I started to come out of my shell. It goes back to that saying, “feed them an inch, and they’ll take the whole yard.” That’s what happened to me.
Sure, I started to talk to everyone, But I also cracked stupid jokes. I started to disrupt teachers and classmates. At first, I began clowning around because I was a natural goofball, but then I began to feed off the attention that my friends gave me.
After a disruptive day in class, one of my teachers finally pulled me aside.
“What happened to the quiet Freddy I know? The one who talked only when necessary? Can you bring him back?” she asked.
I looked at all my peers behind her, smiled and walked away without saying a word.
News traveled fast about getting scolded. The newfound attention from my classmates made me a careless guy. I went home thinking that I was “cool” or “popular,” but it was a different feeling when I had to go to English class again. I felt nervous.
I knew that I made a wrong turn with my teacher, but was scared that if I stopped goofing off and trying to make people laugh, they’d stop giving me attention. It was part of me now. I was a class clown.
Sure, I enjoyed the reactions from others, but it also made me feel like an idiot at times. After awhile, the jokes got old. People who thought you were funny before start to grow up. Sometimes they’re offended by what you say.
TRYING TO SHAPE UP
That’s when I decided that I wanted to be taken more seriously.
Now a junior in high school, I still struggle with what’s expected of me. I want to be the guy who can balance out playing Madden on XBox with three hours of homework. I want to be the guy who can go out every Friday night and still get a 1,500 word essay done without being late. I want to be like many of my friends who can multitask and get their work done, but still be a fun loving kid.
With college looming, the pressure has only increased. I am constantly worried about what I’ll be like in adulthood. I don’t want to be a failure.
It’s hard to be a teenager, not knowing what your “role” in life is supposed to be. Some find it sooner than others.
Though I’m still searching, my new approach is to picture myself as having already achieved my goals. To act as though I’ve already made it to college and my dream job.
It’ll become reality soon enough.