The number of thoughts that have gone through my head in the past few weeks is immeasurable. The amount of grief, questioning, fear, and pain that has made its way into my life is astronomical. The fact that our schools are no longer safe spaces to learn and grow, to develop and adapt, is gut-wrenching to me.
I’m 20 years old. I shouldn’t have a plan for what I’m going to do when I’m in a school shooting. I’m an education major. I shouldn’t have to think about how I would trade my life for my students in a heartbeat. I am a student. I shouldn’t have to fear a space that is meant to be safe. I am a child. I shouldn’t have to think about what to tell my parents when I’m shot. I am a little sister. I shouldn’t have to draft a text to my brother to tell him I’m safe. I am a human. I shouldn’t have to know that the safest pattern to run away in is a zigzag (harder to hit, or so they say). I am tired. I shouldn’t have to keep hearing about children younger than me being shot and killed.
I shouldn’t have to sit here and take modules on how to help my students survive a school shooting to be able to get my degree. I have a plan for a classroom I’ve never seen. I have a plan to set up that classroom with the highest amount of safety I can provide. I have a plan to stock that classroom with objects I can use to defend myself and my students. I have a plan to protect my students that could end with the loss of my own life. I have come to terms with the fact that these plans will come to fruition at some point. I have resigned myself to a human shield for my students because I know how important their lives are to the future.
I shouldn’t have to hear about how someone brought an assault rifle into a school and killed three children who will never see their tenth birthday. I shouldn’t have to imagine how impossible it must be to wake up every morning and take attendance for each class, just to have to deliberately skip over a name. I’m not skipping the name because you know they’re sick or they’re on vacation and they’ll be back in a few days or a few weeks. I’m skipping a name because they’re never coming back. They’ll be removed from my roster soon. They’ll never be on another roster.
All of these thoughts have been things I’ve been considering for the past few days, weeks, and months. I can no longer pretend that I am okay. I’m not. I’m quite the opposite. I’ve been losing sleep over those who have had holes torn into their lives. I’ve been having panic attacks over my future career choices. I know I won’t be safe. I count the number of breaths I take in a minute. 54 breaths. 54 breaths that are no longer being shared. 54 breaths more than any child who thought they were safe at school until they weren’t. It’s unfair. It’s wrong. It’s heartbreaking. Thoughts and prayers are thrown left and right, yet we continue to protect guns over children. We allow these things to continue. Silence is compliance. I’m tired of being silent. I’m tired of being told to keep my voice down. I’m tired of being told that I’m too young to understand. I’m tired of being told that I have no say because it hasn’t happened to me. I’m tired of being told I’m too old and colleges aren’t targeted for school shootings.
NOWHERE IS SAFE.
NO AGE IS SAFE.
NO ONE IS SAFE.
THERE IS NO SAFETY WITHOUT CHANGE.
Change is needed. Support is needed. Schools need to be safe spaces again. There are many resources to support those who have been victims of gun violence in schools. But those resources, on their own, aren’t enough. Donating to survivors or communities is an amazing step, but it’s not showing legislation that things need to change.
Speak up and speak out.
Voices need to be heard.
They can ignore whispers, but they can’t ignore screams.