Carina was one of the first people that helped me through the transition to the new school. I was pretty overwhelmed by all the drastic changes, but one thing put my mind at ease: make-believe. Every day after school at “extended care” we had our sacred spot in the tiniest corner of the schoolyard. Granted, it wasn’t the best location due to the sewage grate located at its center, but it was nice to know that it wouldn’t be stolen by anyone else. Jumping through portals, traveling through time, and transforming into vampires were just a few of our pastimes.
Down below is my interview with Carina along with some of my artwork that gives some insight on her life since those good ol’ days.
J: So, do you remember when we first met?
C: I don’t remember first meeting but my first encounter realizing that you exist. We were in third grade and we were going around the room saying something interesting about ourselves. I remembered you saying “Oh I do fencing” and I was like WOAH that’s cool. I think we just eventually became friends, I don’t know how though. I was a very LOUD and positive third grader. I was also outgoing and friendly towards everyone. I just wanted everyone to like me.
J: Do you think friendships impact who you are?
C: I think so. You can see qualities in other people that you think are admirable and for me personally, I try to adopt those qualities like, “Oh I like that on somebody else, let me try to be like that too.”
J: How has our friendship changed who you are?
C: It’s definitely made me value humor more. I guess it’s made me want to explore past what I know or what I am comfortable with, especially in media. You’ve introduced me to some cool movies, shows, and music. You really inspire me to create. I’ve actually saved all the art you’ve given to me over the years.
(cue studio audience) Awww!
J: What is your perception of yourself in the present?
C: I see myself as really positive, outgoing, honest, hardworking, optimistic, and ambitious… Man, I gotta think of some negative qualities too!
I can’t blow up my ego too big you know! I’ve stayed true to what I was like as a kid. I was destined to be the person I am now. I still consider myself bisexual. I know some people do it to be “trendy”, but I’ve had both ladies and guys on my mind since I was a young ‘un. I had a huge crush on Starfire from Teen Titans. I didn’t know what I was feeling at the time because I just accepted it and thought that was how the world worked: anybody can like anyone. When I finally heard what it was I was like “Well that makes sense. That’s me.” Definitely checked some boxes.
J: Can you remember a time where these qualities weren’t the case? When weren’t you feeling so good about yourself?
C: Eighth grade. Eighth grade was really bad. I wasn’t performing how I would like academically and I felt lazy. This kind of carried on throughout freshman year too, but nobody really said anything because they didn’t care. I was shy and timid, I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I just wanted to blend in with everyone. At some point though I was trying to be edgy and different from everyone else in school.
J: Was that your Tyler phase? (aka emo phase)
C: Yes. Iconic.
J: What made you want to change that much?
C: A lot of it was the internet community I was involved with. The people in those communities were very like THAT. I was okay dressing like a dude, and I already immersed myself in tomboy fashion. For the most part, I was trying to fit into the group, trying to impress them with my gender fluidity. “Hey guys, I’m just like you!” I don’t know. This phase was definitely needed though. It was just a part of how I became comfortable with myself. I had to realize that I can just grow like Carina, and I didn’t have to switch to a completely new persona every time I felt a change coming over me.
J: What’s the most significant change from when we first met to where you are now?
C: I feel like I embody who I want to be now more than ever. There was this part of my life where I was really insecure and self-conscious about what I was doing. I feel like I was able to move past that. I’ve become more confident, talkative, and I don’t know the word for this but I don’t really care so much about what other people think about me or what I do. I’m doing me. I’m doing what I like. I’m making myself happy. I’ve also really become more independent and I don’t have to rely on my parents or my sister to show me how to do stuff anymore.
J: How has the new school environment affected you?
C: It’s made me need to find my own friends. It circles back to the independence thing. Originally just “fiended off” Olivia and her friends became mine, but eventually, I realized I couldn’t just hang out with juniors all the time. It was a fresh start because no one else from St. Gabe’s went there. I revamped myself.
J: Do you have a strong connection with your new friends?
C: I definitely have some good friends with me right now. I can talk to them about anything. There is nothing too gross or graphic that I can’t talk to them about. My older friends help guide me and make me realize that the things I’m going through are totally normal, and a part of growing up.