Coping With Life’s Transitions

Adapting to new situations and life changes can be tough for adults, let alone young people. Here’s what the writers at The kNOw had to say about dealing with life’s transitions, for better or for worse.

Air Of Maturity
Middle school, compared to high school. Certainly there is a difference in growing up and having a variety of classes to choose from. The choice is yours. It’s simple. You just grow up. Unfortunately, saying it is different from actually doing it.

You enter a larger campus as a feeble ant bumping around, hoping not to get squished by the beetles and their big feet. Hopelessly you can’t remember your classes the second day and you are constantly tardy, or like me, you almost slip on a banana in front of a whole bunch of strangers.

Now I’m sixteen and approaching college in the fall since I graduated early. Only a couple more months and I get to experience new embarrassments. Despite the embarrassing moments, there will be a chance for me to taste freedom and breathe in the air of maturity.
-Victoria, 16


The Fire
From what I can see, people rarely welcome transitions. People don’t like change. People fear what they don’t understand.

When I was about ten-years-old, there was a fire in my apartment building. It started on the third floor, which was where I was trapped. It was a horrible night, and I got sick from smoke inhalation. My family among other families had to stay in a hotel. The Red Cross helped us but it was only for a short while.

At the time, my father got a credit card and we were able to get a few things we needed. I had to take the bus to school by myself everyday, and my teacher pitched in and gave my family towels and other needed supplies. I hated everything because I woke up early and went to bed late—something that’s hard for a ten-year-old.

We eventually moved out, but we needed money. My father blew the rest of the money on the credit card (we still don’t know on what) and my mom had to save up money from work. At that time, I had to change grades and I lost a lot of friends in that process. Not much good came of this whole situation, but it has taught me to value what little I do have.
-Jaleesa, 19


Learning From Love
One of the biggest life changing transitions I have had to face was when I was 14-years-old and I had my first serious relationship. It was a big step for me because I really didn’t know how to act with the whole BF/GF thing. It taught me a few lessons that I will never forget, like getting to know the person really well before jumping into a relationship.

Also get to know their past relationships because there are a lot of people out there who are just looking for one thing in a relationship and once they acquire what they want, they’ll just get up and leave as if nothing.

For me, that is one of the biggest transitions right now and because of it, I now choose carefully the people I get involved with. Due to this, I now have an amazing girlfriend. Her name is Theresa and I couldn’t be happier. Transitions are a part of life and I just have to learn from them.
-Gracie, 16


Academic Push
When I first went to Edison High School, I had freshman credits. I was supposed to be a junior. I was forced to take at least a total of ten classes at a time, including summer school, which was about four classes. I did all of this with the intention of graduating on time. To accomplish this task, I had to pass every class. When I was going to Fresno High School, I was getting very, very bad grades, like straight Fs and one D.

But when I discovered I wasn’t going to graduate if I stayed on the same path, I decided without hesitation that I wanted to turn my path around. Soon after that, my GPA started increasing. I went from 2.3, to 2.4, to 2.8, to 3.2 and best of all, I graduated on time!
-Kevis, 18


Horrible And Confusing
There have been many transitions in my life that have changed me for both good and bad. I am still going through a bad transition right now. It all started a few weeks ago when I came home from a meeting and an hour later, my mom got a phone call.

It was a police officer from Juvenile Hall telling my mom that my seventeen-year-old sister (who is in Juvenile Hall) is on suicide watch. He said that she tried to hurt herself and when they asked her why she did it, she said she had heard through someone at her lawyer’s office that she might be transferred to Chowchilla Women’s Prison. I didn’t know what to do. I told my mom that I needed to go for a walk.

And then a couple days later, my grandma calls and tells us that the doctors still can’t remove the cancerous tumor she has and that she probably only has a couple of months to live. I started to think about everything. I cried a lot.

I’m in the process of losing one of my sisters for a couple of years and my family is losing a family member to cancer. I don’t know how much more bad news I can take but I know it’s not much because of everything I’m feeling and thinking about doing.

I have faced many transitions and there are still many to come, but most of them, except for two or three, have been horrible and confusing.
-“Marie”, 20


Leaving Home
The biggest transition I’ve made in my life was a couple weeks after I turned 18 years old (earlier this year). I moved out of my parents’ home. I couldn’t take the pain I felt when I walked around my mom. Just all the bad memories in that house were killing me inside.

I remember my mom sitting down at the corner of my bed and asking me questions. Telling me she’s sorry and that she doesn’t want me to leave. But I still left. It was a Sunday. My brother helped me take my things out of the house and into my girlfriend’s car. It took two rounds to get all my stuff into the new house. I didn’t have much but it seemed like a lot in the little car.

As I said good-bye to my dad, he gave me a look that pierced my heart. Tears running down his and my face.

It took me two weeks to go see my parents again, to face my mom. The first two times I went to see them, my mom wasn’t there. I didn’t stay long either. The third time I went, when my mom saw me, she dropped the clothes she was holding and ran toward me.

All of a sudden, she hugged me so tight it took the air out of me. Her face was full of tears and she had a smile on her face. All I heard her say was how much she missed me and that she loved me. The look she had in her eyes was a look like she thought I was dead and that she’d never see me again.

This has been the biggest transition so far in my life. The good thing that came out of this was I felt free. My relationship with my mom has gotten better, and also the relationship with my girlfriend as well.
-“Nana”, 18


Hard Reality
No, I couldn’t believe it! My lungs were out of air when I ran home from summer school. Right when I got home, my sister told me that my father had a stroke. I was upset, mad, curious and confused. Just yesterday, my father was laughing and talking. Today, he’s at the hospital clinging to his life.

I had heard stories about people who had strokes. Not a high chance of surviving. I went to see him later on that day. However, I couldn’t visit him because many of the other relatives were in line to see him. I sat there waiting for my turn while doing my summer school homework. When it was my turn to visit him, they shut me out. They said he needed to rest for his next operation.

Unfortunately, my mom made me go home and continue my summer school. I couldn’t even learn anything because I kept wondering what would happen to my father.

It was hard for me to stay focused in summer school. Then the news came and I broke into tears. My father passed away, leaving everything on my family. What in the world was a 13-year-old boy going to do now? My tears ran down like razor blades piercing through my heart. Now stress and tension were only building up. I dropped out of summer school although I maintained an A grade in there. I just couldn’t do it.

My oldest brother moved in with us to take care of the family. He had his own family to take care of and we were more stress for him. To me, everything was chaotic and from that moment forward, I felt a hard welcome to reality.
-Dasen, 18


Asking For Help
I’m going through a really big transition right now. I’m leaving Fresno soon to go away to college in LA. It’s a life changing experience. Right now, I’m only seeing the financial side of college. I’m used to having my own money and not depending on anyone. I never really had to ask for help because I always had everything under control.

But now, there are so many things I have to pay for and it all comes at me very fast. I must say I had to get a lot of help from everyone in my family who is willing to help because I couldn’t have done it alone.

Overall, I am grateful for learning it early so that I’ll be better prepared when I actually attend college in the fall. It’s a little easier to ask people for help now then it was a month ago because I’m going to have to do it throughout college.
-Patrice, 18


Feeling Free
It felt like everything was falling apart. I remember sitting on the couch, shocked after reading the most painful text message. I didn’t want to believe that he was breaking my heart. I wanted to believe it was a joke or a nightmare, but it wasn’t. It was not a joke or a nightmare and he really did break my heart. Two years down the drain, in just one second.

I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come out. I wanted to run, but my legs wouldn’t let me. I just sat there and re-read the text that hurt so much, feeling as if someone had taken a knife and stabbed me in the heart.

I did manage to get up. I managed to leave. I deleted the text message, and this was the start of my toughest transition ever. From then on, I had to be stronger and I had to be wiser. From then on, I had to cover my scars and move on.

At the time, I felt like I couldn’t do it, but somehow, I did. I moved on and I didn’t let what happened hurt me anymore. I was able to smile because it happened and I no longer cried because it was over. I felt okay. I felt free.
-Arena, 17

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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