A time I felt anonymous would be from the years of 2016 to 2019. I used to be a part of this Homeland Security internship. I’m not going to say which agency out of integrity, but while I was there having that military mindset embedded inside of us made me change. We dressed the same, spoke the same, walked the same, trained with the exact same mindsets. It was a moment in which made me feel the same as everyone else. It was difficult for me to be who I really am in front of everyone else because when you expressed a slight difference everyone made fun of you. The training changed my perception of people. I always felt uneasy and full of anxiety. I couldn’t even walk into church and feel safe because I felt as if others would attack me or had a weapon on them. It was a constant mindset of being on edge. For example, still to this day, I can’t enter a restaurant without scanning to see the exit signs right away in case of an emergency. I felt as though the person I was hiding inside me felt anonymous because I had to suppress who I am in order to comply with the mental changes my officers were demanding of me. I remember the smell of air craft fuel while walking into the building for trainings. I remember the smell of shoe shine and gun powder fill the air as we trained. I remember the loss of balance in my legs when we had to stand and wait for further instructions. I remember the yelling that would go on as we would rush outside running to rush towards the airplanes where there we would be greeted by police vans and practice cars. I remember always wanting to just sit down for a second to just process the information that they were giving us. The amount of information overload and loss of time was never enough.

We lived fast paced and often times I felt as if I was the only one who couldn’t keep up with everyone else who was already a step ahead of me. I felt as though everyone was enjoying their jobs, yet I felt this pressure in never being enough. I remember going to the shooting ranges. I would take in the smell of gun powder because it would always excite me. I thought this would’ve been my career. I remember lying down on my stomach for the first time to press my eye against the snipper rifle. I remember taking in a breathe to relax and taking my perfect shots. I remember the gun powder smell right up close for the first time. I couldn’t handle how much I thought I was ready. Watching everyone else around me get brainwashed thinking that defending our country is our right and duty. I knew something inside of me just felt like I could never defend a country in which I didn’t agree with it’s standards and values. I knew the truth. I knew my realities and became aware of it. I couldn’t bare the false faces I gave outside the job just to protect those I loved. I was just 17 years old and mentally I felt as though I was 35 making decisions I couldn’t even make in school. I recollect the virtual trainings with scenarios that had previously happened, yet I had to stand there and be handed a simulated gun that would releases real virtual bullets when the trigger was pulled.

I remembered having to sit there and tell myself at the age of 21, if I truly wanted this life and if I wanted to continue shutting everyone out. I would have these battles constantly, until I finally just walked away from the dream I was chasing for my own mental health. Sometimes you have to choose you instead of a dream because you have to know and recognize what’s more important to you. That was the moment for me. I said “no” and I walked away. I haven’t changed my mind since. There are a plethora of moments in which I have thought about going back, but then I think about what the job has done to me and would do to me. It would be like reopening a wound that has already healed. Might as well leave it healed.