Destiny and Taylor are both 17 years old and from Rock Springs. In 2019 both attended a disciplinary school in Sheridan called the Wyoming Girls School. They say there are good parts of Wyoming, but difficult experiences are pushing them to leave. For our "Belonging" series, the two sat down to discuss how their experiences in and out of Rock Springs have shaped them and their ideas of community. Destiny starts the conversation off.
Destiny: Honestly, I never felt like I belonged in Rock Springs. There's a lot of drug abuse and bullying and definitely just bad things that I never wanted to be a part of. You make one mistake and then it's spread across the whole community.
Taylor: Yeah, I definitely feel like it limits you being able to start over and start with a fresh slate because everyone where I'm from now knows that like, I got sent to the Girls School, I was arrested. They know my track record, but they don't know exactly what I've learned, and they don't know what I want to accomplish. I don't think it's a good environment for me, especially if I want to stay sober and continue my recovery. Has the girls school changed your perspective on what community means to you?
D: I definitely think being sent seven hours away from your hometown can change your perspective on it a lot. I think I belong more here than I have anywhere else, which is sad in a way. I used to not even I want to have friends anymore because of all the things I've been through. But now I kind of see that there's all kinds of people in this world and we all go through things.
T: I feel like once they opened up, I definitely have done a lot of self-reflection here. And I've done a lot of opening up and like seeing new things and meeting new people. And I think it's been really good for me. What, if anything, are there qualities from the girl school that you want to look for in communities or take with you?
D: I think I would look for people who are sober, a sober community to be in. Also, respect is a big thing for me, I've talked about a lot. I just think that I know community should be welcoming of each other, and I need better friends and support. So, I think that's what I'm going to look for in my next community.
T: We have this poster in our dorm and it says, "all sizes, all shapes, all colors, everything." And I feel like that's definitely a big thing here. Like, it's not just a poster that you see on the wall. It's definitely shown, and you can see that everybody's really accepting of who you are and what you've been through. And they don't just look at your record or anything and decide from there. What's on paper really doesn't matter here because they give you a chance to be a part of this community. So, I think it's really great.
D: I think I definitely learned just to respect people for who they are, because I would never want someone to feel the way I did in a community… just so ashamed and unloved. So, I definitely took that away. But I also think there's good parts of Wyoming that I would want, like the nature.
T: I definitely feel like what I've been through in this state is pulling me away from it. And I don't know, like I want to travel and I want to see new things and yeah, I'm definitely not going to stay here forever. But I don't know, based on everything you have experienced do you think you want to stay in Wyoming?
D: I might come back to visit but I don't think I'd ever live here, like willingly. It's just not my cup of tea. I don't know.
T: I guess everywhere you go, you'll find people that are really great for you and people that you just don't click with, but I don't know. I feel like it's a really pretty state and it depends on who you are, but it's not for me.