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As I type away on my computer at my desk made out of some wooden composite in my tranquil room, I discern several things. I know what I know, I feel what I feel, I believe what I believe & I view what I view. When I situate myself in front of a reflection of Alaina Talbot, I observe carefully. What do I look for? Most of you would look for the typical flaws in your individual exterior. I, on the other hand, look at her and play over the last two years of my existence. As an incoming freshman, I was animated, vivacious, eager and enthusiastic about secondary school. I was a 4.0 GPA student on the basketball team & I respected my family, my friends, my life and myself.
What you don't detect is that I had just encountered a difficult process in my life with my best friend moving away. Two months subsequent to the start of my freshman year, my mother was determined to receive her teaching credentials & learn American Sign Language (ASL) to broaden her knowledge of sign language since she was previously fluent in Signing Exact English (SEE), a different signing system. Since I lived more than 30 miles from my school, it was mandatory to quit the basketball team so that my mother could pursue what she wanted. I understood her wishes & gave up my life and passion because of my love for her. Basketball had kept me physically & mentally busy, causing a diversion from Preston's* move. That conveys me to another situation in my life, the sixth grade.
I was depressed back then because I felt isolated from my peers when I was placed into the Advanced Program for Academically Accelerated Students (APAAS) program. When I met Preston at a family camp weekend in Malibu, he seemed to emerge in my life when I most needed a companion and I rebuilt my self-esteem with him by my side. Ever since the sixth grade, he was the brother I had never had and the love of my life. I was extremely popular at my middle school, was a 4.0 GPA student and had many acquaintances. What I didn't realize was that I had shunned my other best friends out of my life because I spent every free time I had with Preston. When he moved the summer I was entering my freshman year, I found myself without a person I could confide in.
With a multitude of acquaintances, you never know whom you can rely on. A month later, right before the first quarterly report card, the grades that I was receiving in my academic courses went from an A average to a D average. Being the freshman that I was, I panicked and thought my high school career was over. I had gone through a period of euphoria in the first two and a half months of my secondary school education, and I slipped into depression. I lost all optimism and at the opening of the second semester of my freshman year, I was suicidal. I didn't know where to go for advice since I had no close friends and distanced myself from my loving, caring, sweet & very wise mother in fear of being rejected.
Losing her respect tore me apart & I had the notion it was over. "It" being my life frightened me. I began smoking and I mixed with the wrong crowd. I got in fights and disrespected authority. Every day I would saunter around in a sullen stupor and I would have breakdowns daily. My teachers all stated the same comments to my principal, "Alaina is a very smart individual. Why isn't she living up to her potential? She hasn't been turning in assignments & she doesn't demonstrate interest in class." I would be called in the office almost daily to talk to the principal about my attitude, and every time I would sit there and cry.
Sometimes I would situate myself into a gung-ho mentality and I would make smartassed retorts to all of his comments. He, in turn, would always threaten me by picking up the phone and saying, "I'm calling your parents. I'm concerned about you." Because of my intelligent quips, he never called them. I would find excuses to get out of class by talking to a new counselor whom I detested. After I walked in with an attitude and plopped into a chair in front of her, the counselor would ask me what I thought was wrong with myself. Being the smart-ass that I was, I would always stifle a laugh and mock her counseling skills by stating, "I think I know.
How about depression, ADHD or OCD? I can think of more." I would always tell her that I was cutting myself, which wasn't a serious problem. I would only scratch the surface of my skin to grab attention. I didn't realize that it was actually a cry for help from my subliminal being. I would also tell her I thought I was suffering from anorexia and other eating disorders. Hah. She knew it was all a lie and she would just sit there and scoff at my lies & excuses.
My counselor hated me and didn't look forward to more sessions with a girl who hated everybody & everything in her life. If that would keep me out of class, I enjoyed it. When I was looming in the region of the danger-zone, one of my friends in the crowd that I was hanging out with gave me a Bible one day in late-February. I chortled at her and said, "You are a paradoxical blonde & hypocrite." What I didn't know was when I would finish reading Genesis; my philosophy of life would hit me like a train. I had been raised as a Christian and loved God with all of my heart, but I had not realized that I had distanced myself from everybody including God and I had become secluded. I came home one day malodorous of cigarette smoke & my mother walked in my room extremely incensed. While her eyes were filled with sadness & concern she commanded a direct answer from me, "Are you smoking?" Seconds passed. Minutes passed.
Probable answers and lies ran before my mind in a rapid scrolling marquee. Abruptly, I started praying for the first time in months. I asked God to give me the guidance that I needed. I replied with a very simple and truthful, "Yes," then I looked away in shame. That was my primary step towards climbing out of the deep hole I had quarried for myself. Before long, I requested if I could fly to visit Preston. At first, I had difficulty persuading my mom that it was what I actually needed the most in life.
Just to see him, hug him, talk with him, laugh with him & kiss him was what I needed. Finally, in April, my mom reluctantly let me fly there, but on one provision. She had to go along. I was so happy but when I flew there, I was in for a big disillusionment. The disillusion that Preston was not my backbone, love, best friend, and confidant was like a slap in the face. A rather hard one. I apprehended there that our friendship had drifted apart and it upset me. What a life-learning experience! I realized that I had been given some sort of closure in our friendship, and I felt like I could move on in my life.
That summer, I took two courses and got my first B's in high school. I had heaved myself out of depression, at least for a while & really was happy for the first time in a year. That summer, I was baptized as a born-again Christian. As my sophomore year was in progress, I skidded back into depression. I wasn't involved in athletics or extracurricular activities. My grades stunk and I had no friends.
I was encouraged to join the Deaf Academic Bowl team, and I did so. Little did I know that would have so much impact on my life. I had become unsociable and that forced me to re-learn how to be a team player. There were four other team members on the team in conjunction with two incredible coaches. All year, we trained four days a week as a team & seven days a week independently. That developed to be my life and the Academic Bowl Team became my second to kin.
I began talking with my mom more and I was gradually becoming happy. I also captured the recurring role of "Kimberly" on the FOX TV series, "Get Real." My self-esteem skyrocketed. My grades weren't at the zenith, but I was gradually recovering from the darkest times of my life. My school hosted the Western Regional Competition and we were up against eleven other teams from all over the West Coast. When we beat the National Champions of two years in a row to make it to the Nationals, we were ecstatic. At the Regionals, I met a boy named Xavier*.
From there, a relationship ignited. I still wasn't a very happy self, h ....
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