Life is filled with struggles and accomplishments. Before The Ranches my only thought process was to always survive. Being at The Ranches has shown me another way. It shows you that you can turn your hurt, your sadness, your anger, your past into a weapon. Okay, when I say weapon don’t freak out. When people say weapon they think, “Danger, run.” To me, weapon means power; not the power to control or to do harmful things. To me weapon (power) is a way to give myself confidence and security. My weapon is my past. I use my past (weapon) to show myself that I am not responsible for what happened to me as a child, and how I choose to move forward in life is up to me. When I choose to tell others about my past it’s to get them to understand that what I do have control over, I use to benefit myself, that my past doesn’t define who I am. Our accomplishments show kids (including myself) that even when things get hard that we are able to keep going and to keep our heads up. Our struggles show two things about a person. One that they may need a hand because it may be too difficult to handle on their own, or two, they may need a little longer to work on their current struggle. To get an accomplishment you need to have a struggle. Our accomplishments show others that things may get difficult but it won’t hold us back and we are free to move on to the next thing life throws our way. When life throws things at you that you weren’t expecting, you either fight or run “Fight or Flight.” For most of my childhood it was a constant fight or run. As a child in CYFD custody, you learn relatively quick that people want you to choose run or fight. This is because people don’t want to deal with kids who have a mouth. The usual excuses are, “They’re too difficult to deal with” or “They’re too aggressive.” When I say fight it doesn’t always mean fist fight, it can also mean a verbal fight. If we get honest with ourselves we know that most people can’t handle people who yell and talk back. So therefore most adults choose to have kids who are quiet and who will submit to what they say and want. I have to admit I am not one of the kids who ran or obeyed, I am the kid that said something back, and for that I went from home to home, shelter to shelter, till I got here, The Ranches. I have always told myself that I had the right to be treated like my life meant something. Being a resident at The Ranches has shown me that I wasn’t alone, and there are others out in the world who had similar struggles. Working on myself has shown me there is another path to take in life, that I was not stuck on one road. There are always tasks to do and more to achieve in life. But what are we working towards? My work is leading me to have a more positive outlook on life and on others. I’m a sophomore in high school and I still have things to learn and things to accomplish. So why does my opinion matter or count? I don’t know the answer to that question, for all you know I could just be another teen with a mouth and issues. But who’s to say my words have no meaning. In the end you really have to take a second and ask yourself, “Why do my words mean more than a child’s” maybe it is because you’re older. You know there is a saying that the older you are the more wise you get. To be honest I don’t think that what you say matters, at least not as much as why you say it or what’s the meaning behind them. Words have meaning, and if you can teach someone, lets say a scared kid, and you show them how to use their words so that they have purpose and direction then you just gave a child a way to express themselves in a sea of black. Did you know that most of the human population would choose the person standing out in front of a crowd in a conflict. It’s because they think if they side with the person yelling they will get the attention and get their own needs met. My time at The Ranches has proven to be a one of the greatest decisions in my life. The Ranches has shown me that I can turn my past into just that, a past. People say our pasts define who we are. Why should it? Your past is the past and why should you let others say that our past is us. I hate, absolutely hate when people think that I am too fragile or young to deal with the truth or that I am too broken to handle anything. How about come and ask me. I like to fight. Fighting shows others that I am not going to sit around waiting for others to do something for me. I like to show others that my past does not define me and there is not one person out in the world who can tell me otherwise. I think our past was a lesson to be learned, I don’t think it was a punishment or a life sentence. Sometimes my past comes back to say, “Hey I am still here, don’t forget about me.” Our accomplishments and even our struggles. Being at The Ranches has changed my thought process from survive to, “Adapt, keep learning and keep moving forward.” So I’m going to ask again, why do my opinions or my words matter? I don’t really know the answer to that. I guess it’s all up to you, to decide whether or not my words have any real meaning to them. -Resident CV

Read the full Corral 2019 here….