The responsibility of responsibility

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

As a teenager on the very cusp of adulthood, I have quite successfully attempted to completely (not legally) emancipate myself, so that once I am actually an adult I will be able to handle myself.

With growing up and becoming an actual person whose social security card matters, there come many, many, many responsibilities.

I genuinely love having so many obligations at my age, and at the end of the day, I have brought them upon myself. It makes me feel like I’m holding myself to my full potential and not simply existing the way some of the people around me do. I notice those who haven’t had to work for everything they have as I do, and I don’t relate to them very well.

I got a job at 16 years old– the same one I have now. I’ve worked two days a week, and I’ve worked six days a week. I’ve come in at 8 a.m., and I’ve left at 11 p.m.. I’ve learned how to work with a team of completely different people on shift, and I’ve learned how to work almost every day by myself when we didn’t have any employees. I’m the one who comes in mostly early or right on time so that the other people don’t suffer, and I’m the one they tend to make stay the latest. I take on almost every task in the building, and I’m the one trusted with all of these responsibilities. I do my job very well, so I’m the one who picks up all the slack when other people can’t.

But when something goes wrong, I’m the one who gets in trouble. When I’m trying to do something that benefits us, I get scorned for thinking I have more power than I do– even when it’s just because I’ve been given so many liabilities and told to figure things out on my own so many times. Sometimes, I don’t know when I’m supposed to go to someone else. Giving up these responsibilities is not possible. I’ve attempted to relinquish control of everything and been talked to for that; I was told that my attitude and performance were poor, that they could fire me at any time because they don’t need me.

I know I’m a good worker. I love my job, and I love what I do. I just want them to recognize that I do my best, and I work harder than anyone.

At home, I try to do the best I can for my family. I might stay out all night for work and tread home exhausted, but if they need something from the store, that’s my mission before I let myself go home. If my baby sister needs a ride, that’s my priority. If there’s no food at the house, I feel personally responsible.

I clean what I can when I’m not exhausted and catching up on sleep, I do the dishes and the laundry and (attempt) to unclog the drains. I get food for and feed most of our zoo of pets (I’m not perfect by any means, I suck at it most of the time), and I pay for everything I can get away with without tipping my mom off to what I’m up to. I do my best to lower any tensions in the house by being the eternal confidant.

But when I come home, my family talks about how I’m never around, or how I don’t spend any time with them even though I’ve come a long way from how distant I used to be. I’m comfortable bringing my life home now, and they don’t recognize how that’s a big deal when I was sleeping on the floors of friends’ houses and talking to nobody such a short time ago. The snide comments about them not being the first people I go to; their upset feelings about how I’m always working; the idea that I do so much and actually feel like I do, but I’m not acknowledged, it’s painful.

I set up my own appointments, pay for those appointments, pay for my food, my car, and anything else I need. I fill out my forms. I solve my own problems and figure the things out that used to be somebody else’s problem.

When I go to school, I’m a senior, and I have all sorts of commitments. Every class I have is a family, and every teacher a parent. I don’t want to disappoint my families. I try my best to make every class a better place, open the air for honesty and love, hug the people I come across, and give everyone a smile, but I struggle with my assignments. At the end of the day, that’s my problem. However, that’s what everyone notices because, in most people’s eyes, that’s the point of a class. As I fall apart more and more every day, I feel my relationships with my families growing further and further apart, and connections are where I get my motivation to do anything.

It’s an endless cycle.

I feel unappreciated, so I don’t work as hard. I don’t work as hard, and I’m reprimanded. I feel more unappreciated, and my motivation to work hard spirals downward; again and again, the cycle repeats.

Some days I wake up and want to be a normal kid my age. I want to take the bus home from school, walk into my house, not to switch the laundry over, plop on the couch to watch a movie rather than wait for my sister to be ready for me to take her to work. I want to get my homework done because I’m feeling motivated and eat dinner with my family at home without worrying about the fact that I didn’t pay for the food on the table. I want to go to bed at a reasonable hour.

But those are truly only some days. Some rare, scarce times when I feel beyond overwhelmed and misunderstood by the entire world around me.

Most days, I love every little task I’m given. Every miniature mission that gives me a reason to keep going– a purpose I wouldn’t otherwise have. I love them so much. I feel bad for the people who don’t have to work as hard as I do to achieve happiness and peace. I love the people in my life for giving me the opportunity to take on these duties.

I don’t want my responsibilities to disappear; that’s not something I’d ever want.

Most simply, I would just like to be acknowledged and appreciated for everything I do.

Tell someone around you that you appreciate them. Make it normal to be thankful, and to make sure everyone knows they’re needed. Point out specific things they do that you notice. Say, “Thank you for washing my gym clothes, Mom.” or, “I really appreciate that you pull over far enough so that I can park in the driveway too.” or even tell a random kid in the hallway that you notice he smiles at you every time he passes and you’re grateful for it.

People have crazy, busy lives, and yet, they find time in their days to be helpful to people other than themselves.

No matter how much more you think you do than someone else, be thankful.