i am days short of 16 years old. i am a sophomore in high school. i was raised an only child by my 2 parents who had me young. they obviously sheltered me from violence as much as they could but everything else was fair game. they were accepting of who i wanted to be and what i wanted to do with my life even when i wanted to be a ballerina chef astronaut (at the same time). i was the 3 year old singing rent and watching friends and to this day i still do both of those things. but thereís something different about these two people even tho they have the same personalities. the 3 year old didnít know about violence. she thought the worst violence was an occasional robbery or maybe someone getting killed in a car accident. now as a 15 year old, i live in a society where every week thereís a new school, church, synagogue, mosque, concert, movie theater etc etc that has been ďshot upĒ. in this society thousands of innocent people have been struck down at the hands of mentally ill people who have been allowed to have massive destructive firearms. our government and our society has failed us. at age 8 i was exposed to my first school shooting. i was in the parking lot of a mcdonaldís on december 15, 2012. we were waiting to get me my baller lunch to bring to the cafeteria after a drs appt like every kid has experienced at least once in their life. the car was silent when the radio began talking about a school shooting in a connecticut elementary school. an elementary school. just like the school i went to. 20 kids the same age as me along with 6 adult teachers violently killed by a man who obtained a gun and decided to bring it into his mothers school and kill innocent people. i remember crying in that parking lot knowing those kids were never gonna grow up. i understood at age 8 how fucked up that was. that was a moment that always stuck with me. in 2015 i started 6th grade, my first year at a catholic school. i didnít grow up in a house where faith was important but my parents sent me to the school because my family has had issues with safety in my districts public schools. that school year there were a series of terrorist attacks (mostly in europe) that scared me to my very core. whether it was nice, brussels, paris, or any of the other attacks they instilled fear in everyone around me. then as i prepared for my first comprehensive exams, on june 12, 2016 there was an attack on pulse nightclub in orlando florida. this was scary for two reasons. one the violence i had feared my whole life had hit america. but reason number 2 kept me awake at night. reason number 2 lit an unexplainable sadness in my soul. reason number 2 is that it was an attack on an lgbt+ nightclub where people who were just like me were brutally murdered for living their last moments as who they are, something iíve been afraid to do my entire life. violence is a huge part of the world i grew up in and i hope that my children donít have to grow up in a world like i did.