Sanctuary: A Teenager Talks About Her Room

Jun 6, 2018

If you're lucky, you had your own room growing up, a place of refuge and retreat. Today, we have a portrait of a teenager’s room. No pictures just words from Rachel Kahler, a student from Bellbrook High School.

My room is a qualifiable mess. There are piles of clothes and books and college material everywhere. My dad Bart, I think, hates my room more than he lets on because it's so messy. When I ask him what he doesn't like, he says, "The clutter, the piles of stuff.."

But he also says that there are things about my room that are distinctive to me, "The clutter, the art work, all your running medals and ribbons."

You might be wondering what's in a 17-year-old's room? Well, let me tell you.  In my closet is a small kiddie shopping cart full of fabric from my grandma.  I think of her whenever I use the fabric to make things. Across my desk, there are strings of lights and Polaroid pictures of my family during Christmas and New Years.

On my cluttered dresser sits a silver ring with coral and turquoise in it. It's from my great grandma, My grandma got married on a Ferris wheel in Minnesota. I love the ring, and I wear it every day. The red bandana over there? It used to be my grandpa’s.

Stashed among these objects are things I don’t really show to anyone. I have the journals from when I was a kid filled with silly crushes and musings of 7-year-old me, up to even a couple of years ago. I have a box filled with things my ex-boyfriends gave me and all of the places I went. I don’t know if I should keep it or burn it.

My room is my refuge for when I feel lost, or sad or confused. My room gives me a place to figure out who I am, or who I want to be. Sometimes my room is the only place where I can really be myself.

I talk to people in my room or video chat them. I always shut the door so that no one can hear, and I talk to my friends. Most of the time it's my long distance friends, people I don’t see all the time but I need to hear their voice.  I lay on my bed until my phone dies, and then I have to sit on the floor and plug it in. I sit on the fuzzy rainbow shag carpeting and just listen to what they have to say.

Everyone who knows me thinks I'm stressed. Some days it feels like everything hits me all at once. I just sit in my room and cry when I think about all the things I have to do. I worry about failing grades, getting into college, achieving perfection, choosing the right path in life. I'm terrified of failing at these things.

Next year, I'll be leaving for college. There will be so many things I’m going to have to clean out. The stuffed animals that I have crocheted or made out of fabric. The huge amounts of Legos stashed in my room. I talked to my mom Judy to see what she'll do with my room after I've left for college.

"I'm hoping that maybe you'll take some of your clothes with you," she says. "And if you don't take them with you, then maybe you don't need them. Perhaps we'll give some of your clothes to the Goodwill if you don't need them. Once you graduate and get a job and move to wherever it is that you're moving, then you need to clean out your room"

In the end, I know that my room is so much more than four walls, and the items inside of it are more than just things. They're a part of me. When I leave my room and go to college and have a roommate, I won't be alone anymore. I'll be able to take the memories and the things I've learned in my room as part of my history. And that's what makes my room special because it's where I can figure out who I can be and who I really am.

Rachel Kahler is a student at Bellbrook High School. Special thanks to Katie Bills-Tenney. Learn more at the school's website: https://www.sugarcreek.k12.oh.us/Domain/40Support for Dayton Youth Radio comes from the Virginia W. Kettering Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.