Jasmine Gifford – Author, Be\lie\ve
It was an incredible experience to be a part of We are Absolutely Not Okay. I never thought that I would receive an opportunity like that in high school, and that our teachers, principal, and school district would be so supportive and encouraging. Especially because we knew we wouldn’t be censored; it was all about us, we could write whatever was in our hearts. In those last few months of school when that was all happening, I’d never felt so close to my school, my community, and my classmates, who, after the book was finished, all became dear friends.
At the book signing on June 6th, it was surreal seeing the turn out. None of us expected that many people, AND a camera crew. We were honestly surprised to see that so many people care about what we have to say and want to know what we’ve been through.
My personal story was about when an ex boyfriend-—if you want to call him that—told me he didn’t love me, and threatened to leave me under a freeway bridge in Seattle at three am. It was difficult writing it because it was such a personal, closely held memory and it was one that I had never told anybody (nor planned to.) At first I didn’t think I could do it because of the emotion and all the background, but I felt like it was one I should tell, and I had to do it justice.
I wish there was a little more of a clear message in my story, but what I would hope to get across is that young girls need to have more self respect, and don’t know how. We let guys control us because they know they can. He could have convinced me to do anything, and if I hadn’t switched schools to go to Scriber, I would have never graduated. I was skipping school so much because he told me that school wasn’t important. It’s true that we accept the love we think we deserve. After a while, I truly felt like I deserved all the things he did to me. I can’t even say stand up for yourself, because I tried that; all we did was fight and then the fights got worse and worse and if the relationship hadn’t finally ended, I know the fights would have gotten physical. So my message is more towards adults: help girls learn how to love themselves first, because, trust me, we will never admit how insecure we are.
We Are Absolutely Not Okay was a huge learning and growing experience. It helped me with a lot of things in my personal life, because it made me feel like I had just let something go that I needed to. That’s how we all felt—it was like a weight lifted off our shoulders. We all will continue to grow, learn from our mistakes, and know that through this book we will all be each other’s support system.
Read Jasmine Gifford’s story in We Are Absolutely Not Okay: Fourteen Stories by Teenagers Who Are Picking Up the Pieces. Jasmine is also the author of Broken Mirrors, a powerful collection of stories about family, relationships, and maneuvering life has a teenager.