Who am I?
Whoa, too deep for a Friday afternoon sitting behind my desk in a classroom at a High School close to where I grew up. But that’s the ultimate question, isn’t it? Honestly, I didn’t start wondering what made Jade “Jade” until fairly recently. I’m 27 years old and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m barely beginning to understand what really makes me happy and what direction I’m going to take the rest of my life.
Growing up, I always felt secure in the small suburban bubble my parents created for me and my siblings. The Santa Clarita Valley, where I grew up, is north of the San Fernando Valley and literally separated from the rest of Los Angeles county by dry, brush covered mountains. The only way other Angelenos can pinpoint Santa Clarita is by our most distinguishable landmark, Six Flags Magic Mountain. I can’t tell you how many times I’m having a conversation with someone about where I’m from and as soon as I mention Magic Mountain, I see the light bulb go off and they know exactly where I mean.
My sisters, brother and myself grew up children of the Fire Department. Our father has been with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for over 25 years. Being the child of a firefighter has both its privileges and its sacrifices.
Privilege: You get to tell people your father saves lives and you’re not exaggerating at all.
Sacrifice: You only see your father half of the time. He becomes almost larger than life in your eyes and as a result becomes hard to relate to.
Privilege: You want for nothing in life. You’ve got a great home with a pool, take vacations and have all the toys you want. The community welcomes and treats your family with respect and honor. You often benefit from free-bees and special treatment.
Sacrifice: Your mother is burdened with raising 4 children mostly on her own. She becomes the one you rely on for stability though you can see the strain your father’s absence puts on their relationship.
Up until I left for college I was content to live in happy bubble land and I hardly thought about what I was going to do to after college. It didn’t matter because the future was so far off I’d have it all figured out eventually, right? Since my parents were always able to provide for me pretty well, when it came time to graduate college and find a job I realized with sheer panic that I had no idea what came next. What was I supposed to do now that the first 20 years of my life as a student with a structured purpose were over?
That was when I was 22 years old and now at 27 I’ve been humbled enough to understand that the world is not as easy as it seemed from the swing set in my backyard. I’m learning new things about myself and new ways to relate to the world. I’m learning about causes that deserve support and action. I’ve discovered (however slowly) how to be in a healthy relationship and how to treasure the people in my life.
I decided to write this blog about my growth from a sheltered, naïve young adult into a productive and satisfied member of society, if that is indeed possible remains to be seen. I chose to call my blog “Poor Jade” because one day when I was little, I saw myself crying on a home movie. I felt sorry for myself and I said, ” Poor Jade, look she’s crying.” I’ve decided I’m not going to be a spectator in my life any longer. I’m not going to let myself get bogged down by self pity or allow myself to complain that life is hard but instead I’m going to evaluate my experiences to, hopefully, learn how they transform me into the person I want to be.