I Imagine His Mind Is Like a Room

by Alli Benthien '23

          I imagine his mind is like a room. It has yellow walls that wish to reflect the sunshineand windows that he tries every day to open. He wants people to understand him more than anything else, but I wonder, sometimes, how it must feel when it seems like everyone is too scared of what they might see if they entered that room. He’s not scary, he’s not a monster, he doesn’t need to be avoided. I just wish I could say something to those people who judge his mind before even scratching the surface of who he is. I want to tell them what his room looks like.

          We’re so much alike, he and I, but the average person wouldn’t be able to tell at first. My mind has yellow walls, just like his. The difference is that I can open the windows. I wish I could help; I want to take away the pain I know he feels, the pain of being silently, subtly separated from everyone in his life just because his brain can’t do the same things theirs can. Most people can’t see past the aspects of his personality that are outwardly presented, but I can. I know there’s more inside his mind than yellow walls. There are dreams of a future hanging on his hooks and sitting on his bookshelves, the ones he holds onto, the ones that give him purpose. There are memories he cherishes on his desk and under his bed. The love he wishes to give is spilling out of his closet. It’s all there, but it’s hard to tell when all anyone seems to notice is who he appears to be on the outside.

          I remember a certain day, years ago, when he came home from school upset. Some kids at school picked on him, again. He didn’t say much, but I could envision it. The room spun as he struggled to comprehend what they meant when they called him those names and laughed at his confusion. His backpack felt heavier in that moment, weighing him down as each of their words piled on his back like bricks. His legs couldn’t seem to move forward. All he could do was take it. Swirling in his mind were all the things left unsaid and the powerful desire to make them feel the impact of their own words. He stayed in his room for a while after telling that story. It took time, but eventually, he began to see that event and the many similar ones before it in a different way. He cleaned up the feelings of worthlessness and fear that were strewn across the floor, locked them away, and hung his motivation back up on the wall. When his room brightened, I felt mine do the same.

          It has been a long time since the hate he endured has influenced him with the ease it used to. His room grew, and so did everything inside. Without my help or anyone else’s, he pried open the window. He now lets people see all the things he used to hide. The walls that begged for sunshine now bathe in it. Nothing about his room is perfect, and I hope he loves that as much as I do. He doesn’t need to keep it neat or organized, and he doesn’t need to throw away the memories and ideas that seem useless to everyone who could never understand them. His room, his mind, belongs to him. It makes an impact on more people than he thinks it does. I wonder, sometimes, if he knows how much he’s changed me, and how much he means to me.