By Jana Elsayed
Most people’s childhood memories are sacred. Mine are lost.
Prompt: Write an essay about something unique or unusual about you that you want other people to know.
Some kids grow up aware of their surroundings. In the moment, they are there—sharp and present. Yet, it was always different for me. Thinking back to the parts of my childhood that I remember, I was never aware. I was in a fog and deep in thought, even in moments when I should have been present. Maybe it was my way of consoling myself or a traumatic response.
I remember a specific memory of when I was at soccer practice when I was around 8. I remember going through the motions—just running up and down the field and hearing all the noises as if it was in the background. I can hear my coach yelling his orders, little girls screaming, the whistle being blown, but it seemed distant. Nothing reached me. Nothing fazed me. I don’t know when this began or when it ended. I just know that I was never there and I’m still unsure of most things that happened in my earliest years.
There’s a part of me that wants to venture into these deep and distant memories. But why explore things that might be hidden for a reason? Why bring up old pains and sadness if they aren’t necessary? But there’s a part of me that wants answers. What was so bad that had to be locked away? What was happening that makes me forget everything from before the age of 12? All the good and all the bad are gone.
Sometimes I have a specific memory that I suddenly can remember. It can be something as small as a phrase my mom would say to me while teaching me geography. It can be an entire moment, running around at a water park or a memory in elementary school. But that’s all I get—it eventually fades and then I forget that too. It’s probably time to go to a therapist, get evaluated and understand why these memories are suppressed. Maybe the time to do this is now, when I’m in a better place with my mental health and can accept the things that I learn.
Why is it that time frame that I have forgotten? So much has happened since the age of 12—why didn’t I forget those memories too? If anything, I’d say I went through more trauma after that point in my life, so why didn’t I forget those memories as well? If I had to choose, I’d choose to remember my childhood and take all the good with the bad and forget the crap that happened from age 12 to 16. Or maybe I would choose to remember it all and take it with a grain of salt. Why forget the things that can help me grow? Or maybe I shouldn’t question it, and let my brain forget what it wants to forget and remember what it wants to remember. It must have done this for a reason.
Once I was able to open up my mind and let the thoughts flow, writing this piece came naturally. It was like a conversation with myself. I ultimately found that there were two sides of my mind—one advocating for exploring my past memories and the other being more careful and wanting to let these memories be. The conclusion was the hardest part of writing this because there is no conclusion—finding the final thought to end on was the biggest challenge.
Jana Elsayed is a dedicated and devoted junior in high school. She keeps busy not only with her school work, but also with her extracurriculars, including a club she founded in 2018, Female Empowerment Movement, or F.E.M., New Generation Civic Politics Fellowship and Girls Write Now. With all that she does, she still finds the time to keep up with her hobbies and have some semblance of a social life.