Dylan is an intelligent, resilient young man who wears a kind and inviting smile. We are very honoured that Dylan offered to share his story with us.
In order to do his story justice, we have broken it down into three posts that we have been sharing over the last couple of months.
This post is the third of the three, and chronicles Dylan’s life today.
Before CHV, repeated cycles of no heat, no running water, starvation, exposure to violence, time in foster care, and the knowledge of what he no longer wanted to experience, led Dylan on his journey to Covenant House Vancouver.
While at CHV, Dylan found his voice and self-expression through painting, poetry, learning how to play the guitar, and his fashion choices.
Before Dylan came to CHV, he would not only parent his sister, but also his mom, to try and help her become a better parent. “Parentification was challenging because I neglected my inner child, … but the beautiful thing about that is, I can return to it. I did, when I moved out of Covenant House. I ate junk food all the time, I spent a lot of money on video games, and I bought a new computer. I revelled in that experience. Although it was somewhat irresponsible, it was very integral. I loved all of it. I don’t like eating junk food anymore. It makes my stomach hurt, but it was so important; just another important piece of this journey.”
Today, Dylan feels incredibly confident in his ability to articulate and communicate with his friends, especially if they’ve done something that may have hurt Dylan’s feelings. “You should be comfortable enough to tell your friends how you feel. Oftentimes, this is not the case. Oftentimes, there’s a judgement that follows. There’s a very real stigma that follows being vulnerable. And not everyone in every household is taught how to effectively communicate their vulnerability. I’ve taken it upon myself to do this with my friends, and in turn, create a dynamic where if I say something that upsets someone, they’re not going to hold in. They’re going to speak to me about it. My friends are so incredibly important to me. I don’t know why anyone would want to go through this life alone.”
Dylan’s goal is to be able to be open and direct with everyone, from friends and family to employer and employees. In turn, he wants to create a safe space for others to be the same way.
Dylan is employed and living independently. In addition to working, Dylan has a few projects that he’s working on. One of which he was very excited about and proud to share with us. “There’s this book that I’ve been working on for about a year now. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be, but there was one subject that I’ve always been passionate about. It made sense to me, because I felt like this subject had been so wronged and misused and misidentified. I really wanted to write a book about romance. I am no writer. I’m not going to sit down and write a narrative between two lovers, but I love to write poetry.”
Dylan explains his views on romance: the nuances, the light, the dark, the joy and the sadness. “I see things that I think are incredibly romantic, but I had a feeling that not everybody would see it the way I saw it. So, I had this passion for sharing my thoughts on what romance wasn’t, and the form it takes, because people think of it as a one note kind of deal, but romance is in all kinds of things. I think that people say that romance is a good thing, but at times, romance can be a very detrimental thing. It feels good, but that’s just one piece of the whole picture, or the romantic part of it. Romance is just a door to the house; it’s just an avenue of approaching. It’s a kind gesture that creates an illusion of what we are, who we are with each other. I have these very strong ideas and I really wanted to encapsulate them in in a collection of poems.”
“I’ve been working very hard on this book. Sometimes I stay up too late writing poems. That’s a pretty good problem to have. I’m proud to say something like, ‘I stay up too late writing poems. I didn’t stay up late because my thoughts kept me up at night, or I played too many video games, I was doing something creative and something I’m passionate about.’ I think I have very intense feelings about what romance is. So far, I have a collection of about 17 poems. I want to work on more [poems for the book] because these poems are so incredibly different from each other. I’m so proud of these poems because they’re all what I would consider to be romantic.”
Dylan was kind enough to share a poem with us that he had just written recently. “I’m so proud of it. I wrote it a day or two ago only, and it’s one of the most romantic poems I’ve ever written, and it’s one of the shortest poems I’ve ever written:
Come next ford
I’d wade across
if it led me to the coast
That’s the poem. I wrote that two days ago. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is incredible. How did I write this? It’s so incredibly romantic. It doesn’t inherently say anything to do with love, to do with romance. It’s a single party. It’s not a conversation, it’s just a thought. But it’s incredibly romantic.”
“I would love for people to get this [the book] in their hands, and I would love for people to talk to me about it, because I love the layers that I have put in. Some of these poems are plain. They hit the point right on the nose, but the language used is just so beautiful to me.”
To close the interview, Dylan was asked, “What would you say to a young person who is struggling?
“I’d say, ‘You’re always deserving. Sometimes you might feel like you’re making a mistake. Sometimes you might actively know you’re making a mistake, and you still do something that may harm you. But for that, I’d say that there’s so many factors that have formed us into who we are today. You have to be able to forgive yourself for things you’ve done, for things you may hold onto. And you may not even know what those things are. You may not know what they are, but your body definitely will. Your body definitely will, and it will act in accordance with your feelings. And you may not know how you feel, but there are lots of factors that are at play when it comes to your decisions. But I think that no matter what, no matter who you are, I think you’re always deserving.”
“I think that everyone deserves to eat. I think that everyone deserves to drink water, to be warm, to be fed, and to be forgiven. I think to truly make any amount of difference in your life, you need to be able to forgive yourself. And that might seem like a bit of an abstract thing for some young people. It’s a lot of work, and you’re going to need a lot of time to be able to do something as incredible as that. There’s a freedom that upholds anybody who is willing to forgive themselves.”
Thank you, Dylan, for sharing your incredible journey with us and in doing so, becoming an inspiration for many.
Dylan’s journey and transformation would not have been possible without the amazing support from our community.
If you would like help support youth, like Dylan, on their journeys, we have great news! Our Triple Match Campaign is on now! Bryan and Kim James understand how important it is to meet youth where they are at and help them move forward to where they want to be. It gives us great pleasure to announce that, for the second year in a row, Bryan and Kim will be matching donations in our Triple Match Campaign.
Every dollar that you donate, during this campaign, will be matched to triple your impact.
But hurry. This campaign ends on December 31st. Donate today!