A sophomore at Oswego High School, Vanesa, or Vane, as she prefers her friends to call her, places her hands against the wooden table, as her fingertips tied themselves up in miniature knots as anxiety breathed down her neck. She’s stiff as a rock, slightly rocking her body back and forth while I toss my notebook open to find my essential questions. Her smile screams nervousness as her brown eyes falter into slits.
As a student at Oswego High school, Vane has demonstrated many qualities that are considered to be good traits of the six pillars of character counts. The six pillars of character include respectfulness, fairness, responsibility, careness, trustworthiness, and citizenship. She is a prime example of many Oswego High School students’ characters, and what immense kindness and compassion they show one another throughout the school day. Many of these students go unnoticed, or perhaps don’t get the recognition they should receive. Vane – despite her traumatic past experiences – is one of the many individuals who have not been recognized at Oswego High School.
Vane is calm now, until I ask her one of the most terrifying questions she’d ever been asked before.
“Alright, Vane. Okay, so I have two questions for you. One, is what is one of the biggest difficulties you suffered when you were a child?”
Before the young student enrolled into kindergarten, her parents didn’t take out her pacifier out until she was five years old. As a result, many people had trouble understanding her throughout her development. The most pain she felt was when her older sister, Monica, could not understand her.
“That made my confidence plummet down,” she says. “I became shy, and I wasn’t a girl who liked speaking in front of [others], afraid that people wouldn’t understand me.” Vane explains that this affected her confidence and her grades at school. Not only did her self esteem plummet but everything around her felt like it was falling apart. As well as having difficulties in class, Vanesa’s family tried to help her cope through her tough time balancing school and helping her improve her speech over time. They also planned out times after school to read with her and practice grammar to improve the majority of her speech. With this in mind, Vanesa has developed a big love for books and reading, thanks to her mom. Vanesa appreciates her family’s unconditional help with her past experiences and adores them for the patience they had for her as well. The love she has for her family is immense and she always cherishes them for the sacrifices and adoration for her that they showed throughout her difficult time.
Vanesa still had a hard time throughout her years in elementary school. For example, she also suffered a traumatic experience with her ex-best friend between elementary and middle school.
“For me, there a lot of aspects in my childhood [that] made me who I am right now,” Vanesa says. She’s learned a ton from her childhood and respectively tries to establish these experiences to her daily routine. “Even though me not having, me basically having a hard time during school also helped me to shape the person I am, but like other aspects fall into that category too. With the fact that I was bullied by my closest friend and me being a fifth grader, I thought, ‘oh, my, god, that’s normal. That’s normal for my friend to call me fat, to call me ugly.’”
There were multiple times where her toxic friend would physically abuse her. This resulted in her fear of confiding her siblings. Her family ended up finding out, which led to her parents talking to the principal about the situation. It was immediately resolved, but it left a permanent scar on the sophomore’s heart.
Nowadays, Vane spends her free time reading and drawing. Vanesa enjoys her time at school, and she tries her hardest to go to school every day. She also has plenty of new friends and enjoys spending her time with them. Vane takes care of them as if they were her own, and always obliterates them with plenty of love and affection.
“I just hope [that] my experiences can help other people have the courage to ask for help and admit they have a problem like I did,” she says.
Vanesa always puts her friends before herself and definitely thinks of others before anything else. She shows kindness with strangers and wraps them up with her contagious smile and efforts. Vane never belittles them and always has a rage of stories/ideas that she has planned to tell the next time she sees them. Her energy is filled with explosive energy and always manages to spread her joyous fever to others.
In addition, Vanesa gave me a few of her wise words.
“If anyone is ever going to read this, I just wanted to let you guys know that if you have problems, you’ll get through them. No matter how hard you think it is,” she says. “If you ever need someone to talk to, there’s social workers out there. Go to the student services, talk to a counselor. Or you could just find me, and we’ll talk it out. Even though I might not know you, just so that you know, I’m always going to be there.”