Riley B | Teen Ink

Riley B

May 26, 2022
By boygenius GOLD, Boca Raton, Florida
boygenius GOLD, Boca Raton, Florida
16 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I've always been Riley B.

I have this theory that all Rileys are bubbly blondes who would bounce off the walls if someone wasn’t there to hold them down.

In school, my classes were filled with bubbly, blonde Rileys. Right from the very first day of really every school year, it was clear they would be Riley, and I would be Riley B. All my teachers quickly imbibed the idea that I would be a wallflower, so attaching the B seemed to eliminate all confusion in the classroom. No matter how hard I seemed to try to involve myself, I was never quite at the level all the other Riley’s were. So my last name followed me throughout my school years. I was the outlier, the girl who sat in the back of class and blended in with the sunshine leaking through the windows. I was terrified that my quietness would get mistaken for lack of thought. I didn't want people to think that I was boring, I always had so much to say- I just didn't know how to say it. 

I first found my voice through reading. I found it by wandering my school's library, studying the backs of dusty books, and by having conversations with the librarian. I found an escape to the imagined reality safeguard between pages where I could be anything. My days in middle school muddled together in the murkiness of the librarian's day-old coffee, and blended with thoughts of Prince Edwards Island and the spray of the sea. I read because I wanted to learn more, and because I wanted to find more ways to understand myself. I loved finding a description that was so obvious and honest that I was shocked I never thought of it before. Reading threw me headfirst into writing, wounding my ego a couple times in the fall. There is this quote by Lemony Snicket: “Nobody knows anything at all. We are all bewildered.” It makes me think of the sea of Riley’s shimmering in my school. How they might seem like they were shot right out of a movie scene, like their lives might be so perfect it’s a cosmic joke, but they are all struggling with something. 

Writing makes me feel like just for a second, that I have some kind of hold on myself. It helps me uncover my feelings and understand something, anything, for one crystal clear moment. Because of writing, I am able to work through my problems. I am able to sit down in my room at night, after finishing my APUSH homework, and pour my demons into my notes app. My therapy is writing stories on teen ink and surprisingly, even wattpad. When I am burnt out and looking for a spark of passion- I write. It reinvigorates my senses. It makes me see the world differently- through metaphors and colors. I have learned to find the beauty in everything. I have learned to embrace diversity, to marvel at the perfection in something flawed, to make stories from the simplest gestures. I embraced the different way I saw the world, and I was okay with living my life on the sidelines because I saw all the beauty it had to offer. Now I know that speaking loud and taking up space doesn't mean you are better. Taking my time to craft something I pulled from the deepest place in my mind is just as passionate and brave.

Now, Riley B doesn't feel so much like an insult, it feels like who I am. I know that I can’t force puzzle pieces together. I found the right piece and put myself together over time, and when I did it's like I finally understood myself. Writing is that piece for me. It's the piece that grew roots inside me and held my heart in its hands, and made me, me.

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