College Essay: No longer running away

Mariah Watley, Sage Academy
In eighth grade, I decided to make a drastic change, and this change wasn’t so favorable.

Breathing rapidly, tears streamed down my face. “I can't do this anymore,” I say to myself.

Standing up, I walk to a random person sitting in the park.

“Can I please use your phone to call my mom?” I ask.

She looks away from her phone for a split-second, then back at it and says yes. “Thank you,” I reply.

She nods, handing me her phone. I call my mom, she answers and tells me to walk back to my friend’s house because she’s waiting for me in front of her house.

When I arrive I see her crying. I climb into the car with my mom. I don’t communicate with her for the car ride. She sits me down at a restaurant and tells me, “Mariah, you need to stop following people. It may seem fun now, but watch when you’re on your own.”

I don’t make eye contact. “These friends of yours will lead you right back to the homeless shelter.”

With those words, it clicked. I needed to make a change, this time the right one.

As a child I lived in a homeless shelter called Mary’s Place. Being a child, I didn’t really know that it was a bad situation – until school began and I had to be picked up by the bus in front of a homeless shelter. These 9-year-old kids were telling me I was poor, stupid and dirty. This really brought my confidence to rock bottom.

Finally, in the fifth grade, after being able to leave the homeless shelter and change schools, I thought I could finally start over. But, when I finally got this new start, I was hesitant to talk to people. I feared it would be elementary school all over again. Having to go to school and hear the same thing every day, and letting people push me around because I was afraid to say something, was agonizing for a 12-year-old to go through.

In eighth grade, I decided to make a drastic change, and this change wasn’t so favorable. I made friends who wanted to fight all the time and lived for drama. Since they did, I felt I had to, too.

That summer I decided it would be cool to run away from home, since my parents obviously didn’t care about me because they didn’t like the people I called friends.

While my parents were gone, I crowded my bag with clothes and took the city bus to my friend’s house. She wasn’t there, but her siblings were. So I sat in their living room until I heard a loud knock on the door. It was my dad, looking for me.

My friend’s siblings lied to my dad and said I wasn’t there while I snuck out the back door. After they talked to my dad, they came out and told me I had to walk to their aunt’s house. I went to Jordan Park instead, and sat on the slide with all these questions running in my head: “Why am I running away?” “Will I stay in the park all night?” “I really wish I just stayed home.”

After the talk with my mom, I began doing things completely different. Now, I make short horror and anti-bullying films. I wrote horror and mystery stories. I made some tremendous friends. We want to do well in school, graduate, perhaps even go to the same college.

Everything is going so well in my life. Who knew one word like “homeless” could make your life so much better?

I have become very optimistic. I believe that when I want something, if I work hard enough I can get it.

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