Wander Into the Mind of La'Daja Miller
High school shocked and overwhelmed La’Daja Miller because of the amount of students she encountered. Miller graduated from middle school with a class of 11 students, including herself. Once entering high school, Miller had trouble navigating through her new school life.
Miller said other students didn’t understand her shyness and in turn bullied her. Instead of dealing with those emotions, she decided to write them down through poetry. Those poems written here and there began to form a book of poems, which Miller would add to and remove content from during her years in high school.
It was Miller’s senior year when she reached out to publishers to publish her book, The Wandering Mind of SHE: Poetry, Life Advice, Short Stories, and Commentary. According to Miller, the publication companies she contacted wanted thousands of dollars to begin production.
And since she wasn’t 18, people told her to wait before trying to publish. Eventually Miller grew tired of the word no and Googled how to become a self-publisher.
“I was tired of sitting on it,” Miller said about her drive to publish her book. Miller self-published her book on July 11, 2018.
Miller started writing poetry three years ago but has always enjoyed writing plays and movie scripts.
“I can’t remember when I started writing, I just know it’s always refreshed me to write,” she said.
The Wandering Mind of SHE derives from Miller always being in her own head. She wanted something that described herself without being too cliché, while also being relatable.
While Miller was writing her emotions down, she was also being treated for anxiety and depression.
“For a while I thought I wasn’t relatable to what I was going through,” said Miller. “[But now,] I know I’m not the only one who wanders.”
Dear Black Girl,
By La’Daja Miller
Please be kind to yourself before this world gets a hold of you
Be kind when it comes to your thinking
The way in which you walk
And most importantly; The way in which you speak of yourself.
Believe me, No one will talk about you better than yourself And no one will speak greatness upon your name like you will.
Me, Myself, and I
(poem from The Wandering Mind of SHE)
By La’Daja Miller
I’ve battled with demons bigger than myself
I stand alone in rooms even when there are people around to comfort me.
I keep secrets as closed tight as a bottle filled with alcohol
Because I refuse to get drunk and pass out.
Comforting but not welcoming
I feel like my being doesn’t matter
So I try not to.
I try not to say too much
But I for sure think way too far beyond my wits
Because in the end I find myself thinking about the possibilities
Not what’s really happening.
After one complete and published book, Miller is now onto her next venture: children’s books. Miller was inspired by her three nieces, her own childhood and by the students she’s taught through City Year Milwaukee.
Through her children’s books, Miller wants to bring more representation to the table because she remembers growing up not being able to find many book characters that resembled her.
When it comes to City Year, Miller decided to take a gap year after graduation in May of 2018. During this gap year, Miller didn’t want to be complacent so she took her moms advice, which was to look into work involving children. Although Miller loves her nieces, she thought she wasn’t too fond of dealing with other people’s children until she discovered City Year on Facebook.
According to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee article, City Year is funded by AmeriCorps and is a program that places its workers or corps members in different low-income schools to improve the quality of the schools by helping out. City Year corps members spend an average of four days a week helping out at schools. Miller spent a year as a corps member tutoring students, teaching social-emotional learning and doing community service.
During Miller’s first month, she wasn’t for sure if she wanted to participate in the program. But by the end of the month, a group of girls attached onto to Miller and it was then she felt she had a purpose there.
“I couldn’t leave them,” she said. “[They’re] the little sisters I’ve never had.”
Most of the students she’s met through City Year come from trial homes and need someone to be there for them, said Miller.
Through her children’s books, she wants to give a voice to her students, nieces and the little Miller who didn’t see herself in books.
Miller has signed up for another year of City Year and will continue to keep writing no matter what endeavour she decides to take on next.
“I’m a dope person,” she said. “I’m one of a kind and it took me a while to figure that out.”