Image Part 1 by Toby Earl Johnson

Image Part 1

Toby Earl Johnson


So often we get stuck on a path in life worrying about what others would think of us; would we be cool or uncool if we act or fail to react in a way that our peers deem we should? A situation arises, and we resort to violence to solve it. Some of our friends will say we’re now hard, we put in work, we’re the man… But are these people who we really ought to be trying to impress? Many positive friends and peers are in our communities if we seek them out. There are youth groups, churches, school coaches, big brother/sister programs, and even many brothers of all nationalities behind walls who care about you.

Each day I wish that I’d have chosen a different path, and not chosen to try to prove an image to my friends. Do you know what a street image got me? So far, I’ve been Incarcerated 14 ½ years, with 15 ½ years left until I’m eligible for parole. All of my old friends, they’re not there anymore. There are no letters, pictures, money sent, no phone calls or visits…NOTHING! Now why did I ever care what my image was to these people?

You know who I do care about? I miss my family and few positive friends. Ironically it’s those I did not have time for before whom matter the most now. It doesn’t matter who was the hardest, biggest criminal or drug dealer; rather it’s how can I get home to my loved ones? How can I reach out to help troubled youth or young addicts so that they don’t end up in a similar situation as I did? Everyone says “it can’t happen to me;” well I received a life sentence at 18 and have been literally fighting for my life since. It happened to me, and can happen to anyone else!

Let’s really look at who we choose as role models, who we’re trying to impress with our image. Maybe the real issue is getting to know who we really are, so that the image we show the world is accurate for who we truly are. Let it be an Image of success, and image of strong morals, an image for positive future, and not one of violence, where the character we show is façade, leading only to a future of incarceration. Just as I reach out to you all now, find those who do care about your futures and start reaching out to them! Make sure that the image you’re striving for is what you really do want.