Edmonds through the Eyes of a Teenager: Supportive community makes growing up easier

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    By Lily Jaquith

    In the nearly 18 years of my life, I have been through many events that have shaped who I am, what my values are and the decisions I make. Living in Edmonds is certainly something that has contributed to the person I have become. I have been a part of many wonderful communities within the town of Edmonds. My school, my church, my family, my friends have all influenced who I am today.

    I was lucky enough to have nine wonderful years with the Madrona Children’s Theater community. On March 27, I finished my final show with MCT. Over the years, I met great people and was part of something incredible.

    Madrona Children’s Theater’s mission statement mentions that it “provides theatrical experiences for all students who want to participate, enhancing their self esteem, and helping to promote and develop each child’s belief is his/her own unique blend of abilities.” I can say without a doubt that I experienced the teaching and support of the community, both as a student actor and an alumnus returning to work on the productions. Being a part of those nine shows helped me see my value as an individual and as part of a group. I know because of MCT, if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish it. MCT helped me see that I was worth something, even when I wasn’t feeling good about myself. Though I sometimes had trouble in other areas of my life, I knew I had a safe haven in the theater.

    Middle school is not always the most supportive community. Many students deal with teasing or bullying, peer pressure and insecurities as they make the transition from child to young adult. It’s hard to know when to go along with your friends or when to stick up for yourself. It’s difficult to balance wanting to blend in, but not wanting to be ignored. As a middle school student I struggled with all of this.  My friends and I weren’t always loyal to each other. When you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s very easy to put down those around you. Your friends are those you should treat the best, but they are easy targets when you feel like lashing out. As much as I would like to blame my friends for everything that happened between us, I was also at fault in some ways.

    I’ve spent the years since then trying to be kind and caring towards my friends. I am also much stronger. I don’t let people in as easily. Like many people, my years in middle school were some of the worst in my short life, but I would never change them. They made me who I am, without those difficult years I wouldn’t be nearly as kind and considerate, but I might be a bit less shy and self conscious.

    The most life-changing event I have ever experienced was my parents’ divorce. It happened when I was 13 years old, after a two-year separation. It had a huge effect on me, but not in the way most people would imagine. Even though it was a tough time, my relationship with my parents got a lot better. After their divorce, both my mom and dad relaxed a lot. I was given the freedom that most teenagers only dream of. Instead of taking advantage of my parents’ trust, I stayed close to home. My mom became my best friend and my comfort spot was my house. I was rarely being told no, and because of that I felt no need to rebel.

    At first, when my sister and I were staying with my dad, we lived in a very small apartment. There was no opportunity to watch TV in a different room or storm off somewhere else when I was mad. I formed a close bond with my dad as we adjusted to a different lifestyle. My parents allowed me to become the person I wanted to be. There was no pressure to become who they wanted me to be. The freedom was incredible. I would have never wished for my parents to divorce, but I like who I am and I like my parents. I believe the divorce had a part in that.

    The communities I have been a part of in my life in Edmonds have contributed to the person I am today. My experiences, both good and bad, with theater, at school, and with my friends and my family are what I will take with me as I head off to college. I will add them to the experiences I will have in the new communities I find in Bellingham. I’m excited for the changes that will come.

    Lily Jaquith is a senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School. Next year she plans to go to Western Washington University to study teaching drama and perhaps minor in journalism. She loves working in children’s theater and has been a part of Madrona Children’s Theater for nine years. In her free time, Lily writes for her personal blog and enjoys social networking on Twitter (follow @LilyJaquith).

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