Shavon Collins Credit: Rosario Zavala

Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week’s Chicagoan is Shavon Collins, incoming high school freshman.

“I’m ready to go to high school, but at the same time I’m not, because I know they’re going to treat me differently than they do now. Like in my old school, they used to give us lectures about what we should do. They took their time with us. But I know in high school, they’re not going to do that. They’re going to say, ‘Here it is,’ and let you do it for yourself. But I’m ready for the experience.

“My dad has a fear of me walking, so he’s gonna be dropping me off at school. He didn’t let none of my brothers walk. When it comes to us walking places, he just don’t like that.

“I had a best friend last year. She used to be best friends with my cousin, so we started hanging out, but the past summer break, she started acting very different. She was being very mean and spreading rumors that wasn’t even true. Nobody even believe her. She just wanted to make me feel bad, I guess. The kind of person I am, that don’t really bother me, ’cause I know it’s not true. I’m a very nice person. Everybody is cool with me in general. I don’t have dirt on my name.

“I want to be a child psychologist. I see people having anger issues. Eighty-five percent of the time, they come talk to me about it, because they know I give good advice, so why not help out? The main thing I tell them is, ‘Why spend your time caring about somebody else when they don’t even care about you? Don’t show them the same disrespect back, but don’t sweat it, either.’

“I don’t want to grow up. No, I don’t want to grow up. But I don’t like being a teenager either, because you got all these different changes. Your personality starts changing. The way you look at certain things starts to change.

“I wish my family understood that if they just let me do things my way sometimes, it would make both our lives better. Like my mom, she always tell me to clean up. One day I’m going to clean up by myself, but she’s never going to know that if she’s harassing me all the time.

“The best day of my life was when I got my first nephew, ’cause I always wanted to be an auntie. I remember holding him, just looking at him. I always had the idea that if one of my brothers died, that was my responsibility to take care of that kid. I think that is true. If something happens to one of your siblings, you should pick up the parenting.

“A lot of teachers say I think way above my age, that I have a mature mind for a teenager. I think that is true. They tell me to make sure my main priority is trying to get a better education than them. They say life is very hard, and there are going to be some things that I think I can’t overcome, but I can. I’m scared. I want to go to college, I just don’t want to go out of Chicago. I want to be with my mom.”