I've never written a blog. I've never seen a smart phone. I've never used social media. I knew I was missing out on a lot, but I had no idea just how many things would be foreign to me after serving fifteen years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
In prison we want what we don't have--everything. I've seen inmates go crazy over a green rag because it was the only one on the yard. Eventually there are two green rags then three and so on. Now everybody wants the first yellow rag. It seems ridiculous to you because you've never lived in a world of greys and blues. Everyone wears the same clothes: grey shorts or blue pants, grey sweat shirt or a white t-shirt, grey hat or white hat. Even the walls are grey concrete or white "ish". All day every day the same three or four colors.
Now that I am out of prison, I am overwhelmed by all the choices. It's funny because I heard it can be stressful, but I didn't think it would be that way to me. How could a guy be overwhelmed by the choices of cereal. Just pick the one you missed the most right. Now that I am staring at them, I realize I didn't even know half of them existed. Prison conditions inmates to be mindful of other peoples personal space, yet in the grocery store that lady is the third person to bump into me in the past five minutes. How can I choose a cereal with all these people moving around me. Why does the clerk on the PA sound like he's saying, "get down". Am I sweating, my glasses are fogging up. God I'm making a fool of my self, I feel like everyone is staring at me. You know, I don't need cereal.
Everything is new and every new thing is a lot more complicated than I imagined it would be. People tell me I'm doing great-- I don't feel that way. Inside, I am often frazzled, anxious, and afraid. I'm getting more comfortable each day, but I imagine some effects are permanent. And that is one of the many reasons why Stepping Stones to Success is here - to help all of those, like me, who need to be able to navigate this new-to-us world.