Meet Qua Glenn:
"The true meaning of homelessness isn't just having a roof over your head. But not having a true support system."
Out of dozens of arguments I had with my mom, it was in May 2018 where our lack of communication had reached its limit. My first decision as an adult was to abandon the place that was supposed to be home. I writhed around North Collins for nine hours straight paranoid, walking aimlessly around stores, even getting lost inside a gated community. I had landed at rock bottom. Tired, stressed, and confused, I took the bus to Lamar High with the little stamina I had and bumped into my U.S Government teacher. He was incredibly kind and understanding, devoted to learning and patient enough to help us understand the material, he loved to travel and talk about his days in college, and he genuinely wants his students to succeed and truly live life to the fullest. I told him about my situation, and he understood everything. He recommended that I move to a more stable environment until the argument came to an end. He introduced me to a social worker who then introduced me to the Arlington Life Shelter (ALS) which was considered to be the nicest shelter in Tarrant County (as opposed to Lancaster which was considered to be the worst) for its clean surroundings, wide open spaces, and friendly community.
I didn't know what to expect at the beginning, I felt hopeless knowing that the only reason I was there was because of a ridiculous argument that could have been completely avoided. It was only until I started interacting with the residents that I started feeling slightly comfortable. My U.S. government teacher even gave me a bag full of supplies, including a nice pair of headphones for listening to music. My social worker gave me a composition journal on the same day, since I was struggling to write and draw at the time, so I could write down my feelings of being homeless. On day three, I was stereotyped and judged by two men in the park, saying I was weak for leaving my home over a petty issue. It was only until I shared my page in the journal, outlining what I had experienced in the years of constant nagging and negative tension between my mom and I that helped them understand my side of the story. Resonating with my outcome, one of them ask me to sit beside him for an open conversation. He understood how it felt to be in an abusive relationship, particularly between him and his dad, but he also wanted me to see the value of my relationship with my family and to consider that there might be more to them than I could have realized.
“The true meaning of homelessness is not just having a roof over your head, or the resources you need, but people who want to support you when you need it the most. "
That was the only thing I took to heart; I gave him the benefit of a doubt, and I texted my mom to start over later that day (we disconnected again four weeks later). That same night, I wrote my story down in the compilation journal, and I used the inspiration to record the history of my new friends, so that they wouldn’t be misconceived by skeptics. From the humble Christian who took me to church in search of hope and joy, to the wise mentor who encouraged me to aspire towards my fullest potential with my stories. To the sarcastic idealist and his dad, the joker, who helped me navigate my new home and looked after me as if we were a family. I've stayed in ALS for over two months, and I've written the stories of 42 awesome people who deserved better than the position they were all in. Before I left to join the Life Project in ACH child and family services, I vowed to my friends that I would share “The True Meaning of Homelessness” when I become successful.
To this day, I felt like I didn't do enough to commemorate them, because I couldn't continue pushing or publish the story with the people in ACH. I've been living here for three years now, with only six months left before I'm out of the program. I began studying online at Full Sail University, and recently dropped out with a media communications certificate and around $30,000 in student loans. I volunteered in youth related organizations with CoAct being the most important because of its cause and my involvement towards helping youth homelessness. I've managed to get three jobs through the whole program, with the original pancake house being my recent one. I'm recovering from severe anxiety and crippling depression from family trauma, close relationships, and difficult choices that build on as I'm close to my departure date.... It's often difficult for me to stay hopeful in this hopeless world. Over the years, adulthood has required me to make some really difficult decisions, and the "tough love" mentality that is familiar in our society doesn't always make a better decision.
What ALS showed me was that, within these unfair moments, what mattered most was the decisions that were most important to you. Your values, the people you connect to, and everything you stand for, should be the final decision above all else, because what makes you who you are determines how you're going to move forward in life. You have the courage and confidence to do what you believe is right, because the ones who believe in you are the ones who support you the most, and they respect you for who you are and what you strive to be. What we experience don't have to be inferior or judged, it doesn't matter what the outcome should be, or what the alternatives may be, as long as you're satisfied with who you are now. And at the end of it all, the people who aspire to be different will always be here, trying their best to seek potential in the darkest of places.