By Kayla Nicholas
An insight into a journey of communication and the challenges that come with it.
What’s the significance of a couch? Some are large with tattered leather fabric, while others are supple with cotton upholstery. But none can compare to my couch. It has changed shape over the years, from a brownish color with harsh reclining seats to a stark and cold gray with a more modern aesthetic. Nevertheless, its comforting presence has remained a constant in my memories as I reflect on the challenges I’ve overcome and ideas I’ve pursued.
My living room has always been a space where I’ve talked through problems with my family and brainstormed ideas. But more remarkably, it was on my gray leather couch one cold October evening where I formulated a plan: to form my own club. I’ve always had an interest in law, but my school and other organizations did not offer many opportunities to learn more about being a lawyer. So, I took to Zoom to create a digital/virtual collective to bridge this gap. I soon realized that starting an idea from your living room couch is much easier than acting on it. The process required me to do things I’ve never done before. From making my own websites to doing social media promotions; I had to find ways to target and engage a new audience. As I began hosting club meetings, I’d feel a faint but persistent anxiety that I’d never felt before. My hand would start shaking slightly whenever I led group events with our panels of speakers. My eyes would often be glued to the chat of Zoom or Google Meets, worried that no one would be engaged or have interest in the event for that day. After meetings, I would quickly reach out to friends who attended for their feedback.
My family became a major support as I tried to figure out how to handle the responsibilities that came with my newfound leadership. I still remember a moment after my first meeting in which a family discussion left me with instrumental advice: to always chase after my dreams, even when it seems impossible. This loving communication with them bolstered my ability to lead meetings for the club and helped me form the collective of more than 100 members that I have today. However, within my family I also struggled immensely with communicating. This ongoing difficulty has prevented me from sharing and receiving advice with someone I care deeply for.
It is on my couch, watching television next to my grandma, where I continue to face an enduring challenge: speaking in my native language, Haitian Creole. My mom, while fluent in Creole, neglected to teach me at an early age. Unfortunately, the encounters I have with my relatives from Haiti leave me incredibly misunderstood. My grandma is hard of hearing and despite my efforts to communicate with her, my attempts at conversation are dismal at best. Even when I try to talk to my grandma in Creole, I can never find the words I need to convey my thoughts and feelings to her. I still enjoy the time spent with my grandma, even if it is spent in silence. The quiet is filled with a mutual understanding of the respective love and care we have for each other. These feelings are always present even in the absence of words. Nevertheless, I continue to study Creole with the hope that one day I can fill the silence with conversation, to share more of my life with my grandma and hopefully hear her advice.
When reflecting back on challenging moments, I continue to find myself in my living room. Whether I’m seated comfortably in thought or perched bashfully in persistent silence, each memory I have with my couch is a therapeutic one. My couch has always been a constant, despite the ways I change over the years. Its presence reminds me that I can endure future challenges, no matter the difficulty.
When writing this piece, I first started out getting my ideas down and written out. I had an idea of what types of challenges I wanted to address and the traits I wanted colleges to learn about me. I later thought of different experiences I had throughout my high school career and sought out moments that I felt best represented my character. Thinking of those moments I started the editing process of my essay’s first draft, trying out various ways to express the feelings, thoughts, and apprehensions I felt during my anecdotes and the lessons I learned after. My mentor, Meghan, helped immensely in the process—providing suggestions on how to best convey my personality in my writing, as well as pointing out oversights I might have made throughout the writing process. After weeks of editing and rewrites, I was left with a final draft that I felt represented me in holistic way.
Kayla is a senior from New York with a huge passion for law, business, literature and politics. She also enjoys tutoring, volunteering with her local community board as a youth representative, helping provide students leadership skills and opportunities through her position as secretary with Power the Youth and providing informational graphics through positions with other organizations. She is the president and founder of the Lawyer Connection Club and works to facilitate connections within the legal community. All in all, she’s excited to continue to develop her writing style and be more creative in working with Girls Write Now!