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Shayla Astudillo

An individual who turns their fears into words.

About My Story

My story is about the double standard in a home amongst siblings. My struggle with mental illness has made me realize the obscurity of it all, and my journey into finding someone who will genuinely listen to me.

Warning: Mature Content

Who will listen to you?

Shayla Astudillo: Who will listen to you?

It’s easy for men to speak over us. It’s not a sentence for pity, looks, or empathy. It is surrounding us. It’s in elementary school being told you are ugly by your fellow male classmate. Then, in middle school, it’s them rating girls and who they would smash. In high school, it’s male teachers checking out girls your age in front of you. Recently, through being stuck at home consistently, I realized the different dynamics I have with my siblings against my mom. 

To provide context and an idea as to how I am a disappointment, I am 17, filling out college applications, have straight A’s, my room is clean with books everywhere, and am a writer. Yet, due to my mental illness, I struggle a lot when it comes to doing the smallest tasks. Getting up in the morning, brushing my teeth, taking a shower, going to school, listening to music, being alive. I don’t want to say it’s hard because it would be understating it. And especially because I know one person reading this feels exactly what I’m saying. And, I do not want to take away the validation of how much it hurts. I have three siblings, a brother who is 23, a sister who is 27, and my oldest brother who is 31. I grew up being told that I was a good child because I was quiet, had good grades, rarely spoke back, and was the youngest. As I got older, however, my mental health was decreasing. By the time I hit middle school I was on the brink of failing my classes, I began doing self-destructive behavior and overall drowned in my sorrows. 

Months went by, my grades being the first teller. On the way to a mall with my mom, she spoke with fury, no, not fury, but disappointment. I had failed her, and she was so disappointed I was no longer that little girl who did everything she wanted from me. I was instead ungrateful, a brat, and absolutely disappointing. I sobbed. She lacked in providing comfort. 

I realized the power imbalance in my family when a brother of mine spoke of his troubles. He was depressed, had no motivation, and was tired. My mom sat with him at his head, played with his hair as she gave him the comfort I so badly needed. My siblings wished him the best, had constant conversations with him about what he was going through, and he was hugged. I never liked comparing people with one another, but in those moments at the age of 11, I genuinely felt like I was dying, and god I almost did. I had been there dismantling in front of their eyes for a decade. Yet, he felt sad for a week at most, and they were at his knees. They only began to notice my troubles, or selfishness they would have said, due to my grades going down. My brothers could drop out of college, fail classes, have all D’s, talk back to my mother, punch walls, break furniture, be manipulative, be everything they shouldn’t be, and my god they were hugged every day. I didn’t even need kisses, hugs, and a teddy bear. I just needed to be told that I mattered to them. It’s been 6 years since then, and I can say that the dynamics haven’t changed. 

But, one thing certainly did. 

I did. I am sitting down at my desk freely expressing what I have gone through. I take medication for my mental illness, I go to therapy, I speak up, and while at 11 years old I didn’t know what words I could use to explain how bad I felt all the time. 

                         I am a writer, who never lacks the words to say what I need to. 

                         I want to be honest with my solution. It’s easy for men to speak over us. For moms and sisters to listen to the men around them rather than you. It is absolutely one of the worst things to feel. It is blinding, foggy, and a trap. Until it’s not. I have spent my entire life trying to figure out the words I need to say, and honestly, you just need to say them. Say them. Because next year I will be off to college where I will study to become a full-time writer, I have a book to write, a soulmate to meet, and we have so much more ahead of us than the people who would rather listen to a male voice than your own. 

Look, they may not listen, respond, or even be here to understand But, you can be. 

    Listen to yourself.