Wednesday, April 30, 2008

City Life

More Than You Can See
By Roya Yazhari

Look into her eyes. What do you see? A beautiful blonde girl without a care in the world? Or how about a young woman who must have a miraculous life with guys all over her? She must be a girl without a care in the world because in this society, if you have looks, you have everything, right?

Joy Fischer, a student from a small
Oregon town

Joy Fischer, age 20, grew up in the small, lower class town of Gresham, Oregon. She grew up living on “Snob Hill” because in this town, she was considered to be among one of the richest families. At age 15, before entering her freshman year of high school, Fischer moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon, one of the richest towns in the state. Here, she lived in an apartment with her mother and her brother and went from being the richest kid in town, to the poorest.

Students asked Fischer why she moved to Lake Oswego since Gresham was not very far away. She said her mother wanted her to be in a better school district. The truth was, her parents had began divorcing.

“My mom had my sister at age 18 and me at 21. It was not planned,” said Fischer. “My parents got married because it was the right thing to do in the Christian faith. When my sister Christine was born, she was diagnosed with a severe handicap, which meant she would never develop mentally passed the age of 5. This was so difficult on my family. When I was born shortly after, the responsibilities I was forced to take on as the second child were far beyond my years. I had to be my own mom.”

Fischer describes growing up in a household where she had to be mother to herself and her brother. She had to make her own breakfast, walk herself out to the bus stop every morning, and basically be as responsible as possible all the time.

“My father didn’t connect much with me. He never said I love you, and to this day he has a lot of trouble sharing his emotions.” This relationship with her father has led Fischer to be very cautious about any male she lets into her life.

According to the Americans for Divorce Forum, in 2002, 76 percent of the U.S. population had gotten a divorce. This is an alarming statistic. Single mother families increased from 7 million in 1990 to 10 million in 2000. Today, 13.8 million children live with just their mothers. Grimm-Wassil, in his book Where’s Daddy: How Divorced, Single and Widowed Mothers Can Provide What’s Missing When Dad’s Missing, states: “Female observation and perception is dependent upon whether they lost their father to divorce, abandonment or death, and at what age. How and why a father is absent will have an impact on the emotional and material outcome for the child.”

“I have met very few people that come from married, stable families. Those hardly exist,” Fischer says.

Fischer says her father was present for most of her childhood, however his emotional disinterest in her life has led her to feelings of emptiness she has been forced to battle in the last few years. “I am still dealing with these feelings,” Fischer says. “However, I am more in tune now with why I am feeling this why, and how to make it better.”

Fischer says she realized in the last year that it was not healthy to bottle up her feelings, and that she must express them in order to heal and move on. Fischer’s mother, Sonya, has always been very open with her. Fischer explains that what kept her from going down a bad path in life was that she had a great mom.

“My mom told me everything in my entire life. She talked to be about sex, relationships, friend groups, drugs, etc. I feel like I was educated at a very young age. My mom was always very open,” she says.

When asked if her relationship with her mother changed after the divorce, Fischer said, “I had to babysit all the time for my little brother. I think my mother felt that if she made me stay home, I was less likely to get into trouble. Little did she know, I was not the typical rebellious child. I didn’t drink, I got good grades, and my friends were nice!”

Fischer (right) with childhood friend,

A study by the American group for single-parent households showed that children without a father figure in their life are more likely to not go to college. If this is the case, Fischer is the exception. She never let her life circumstances or hardships get in the way of her goals. Her father’s lack of support both emotionally and financially never hindered her from her fulfilling her dream of moving to New York City, going to college, and living the life she had always wanted to live. Most people get to this point in their lives with extreme amounts of help and support from parents. Fischer did it own her own.

Fischer (middle) at a formal event in
New York City

To this day, Fischer has issues with her father that need to be worked out. The fact that he recently remarried someone half his age, and his lack of emotional interest in her are among the many issues she is dealing with.

Behind the pretty face there is always baggage. The stereotype that pretty people have perfect lives must go away. There is no perfection in everything. Money can’t by happiness, and lack of money does not always hinder progress.

Fischer says, “If you have a goal in life and are motivated, you can be your own hero.”

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