Souls of the San Juans: personal stories from students

The following are responses from an interview with Orcas High School junior, Kaya Osborne.

Man, what’s gonna happen when you start rollin’ out the hard questions?

I had a friend in freshman year, she moved away, but I would say that she has really affected me. In my art she has affected me, relationships she’s affected me, and I think she’s helped me become more who I am. Sierra moved down to Oak Harbor.

In some ways I would say my grades, but I think it fits into this whole struggle with responsibility that I’ve been having. Growing up, I’ve always been the really responsible kid, and I’ve always been trying to live up to that expectation. And whenever I think about what I’m doing I think “oh, well what’s the responsible thing to do, the right thing to do?” Am I being understanding, am I doing the right thing to be in a good place in a relationship to what’s going on? And, recently, it’s just, a lot. Because I have a lot of expectations, and in some ways I feel responsible to live up to those.


A sun-stricken Kaya / Image Credit: Keith Light

You’re probably familiar with this one: growing up, adults are always saying that you’re so smart, and there’s the expectation that you are going to live up to that potential, especially in school. Which is a measure of intelligence in a lot of ways. Which isn’t good in my opinion, because it only measures certain kinds of intelligence well. So, in a lot of ways I want to live up to those expectations because, in a lot of ways I’ve internalized those expectations and expect those things of myself. But I’ve kind of reached a point where I feel like I can’t. Even though intellectually I know that probably if I work hard and persevere I could build up to that, but it’s difficult. And it’s kind of at a point where I want to say, “Screw it, I don’t have to live up to those expectations. I don’t have to take on that responsibility.

When you get up in the morning, you’re like, “Oh, I have to go to school.” You don’t have to. In reality, you could stay home in bed. And there would be consequences, of course, but it wouldn’t be a big catastrophic explosion if you don’t go to school. This is something that I’ve thought about hypothetically for years. Your parents might say that you can’t do this, but in reality you can, it’s just their word that’s stopping you. Theoretically, you can do anything, but what stops you is the boundaries that you chose to accept into your life. And I’m not saying that there can’t be completely reasonable boundaries that other people accept into your life, and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to them. But in the true reality of things, you don’t have to.

Anytime someone says that there is something that you have to do, you always have a choice.

Even if I try to think, “Oh, this doesn’t really bother me that much,” but at a glance, even if I think it doesn’t, at a subconscious level it affects me a lot.

I’m probably about as Northwest Washington as you can get when I say, “I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person.”

I would say that I was hella gay, but I think they kinda know that by now.

Something that a lot of people comment on and compliment on about me and my parents and my friends is that I always seem really self-confident, and really confident in who I am. And the truth is, that’s not very true. I am really self-conscious. And I am a real people pleaser. I want to try and please everybody. And I don’t know if it seems like that, like I don’t know if that’s obvious or not.

Its hard to have a clear perception of yourself, but its also hard to have a clear perception of how other people see you. And that’s something that I’ve always been concerned about; how I see myself and how other people perceive me. That’s something that concerns me a lot more than I would like.