I moved to California from Florida almost a year ago. In Florida, I went to a private school on a sort of “scholarship” situation. Though my family was “middle-class” and we always had enough money for basic necessities, compared to my peers, I felt like I was always at the bottom.
I never wanted to invite people over to my house because I thought that they would take one look at our shabby one-story home in what they would call the “ghetto” and go running back to their perfect, suburban, gated communities. I didn’t even want my Mom to pick me up from school in her car because I thought it didn’t compare to my friend’s parents’ Mercedes and BMWs. I was conscious of the fact I didn’t have enough money for the new iPhone and I couldn’t afford the preppy boat shoes that all the girls in my class would wear.
All of this made me part of the “out” crowd. To my wealthier peers, it seemed like if I didn’t have money to spend, I wasn’t good enough to spend time on.
This wasn’t the only difference that isolated me in school. I was also one of a handful of people in my eighth grade class who wasn’t white. My skin is olive toned. My hair is dark and curly and I have big brown eyes. I used to straighten my hair every day because I wanted it to look like the other girls. I used to skip breakfast and lunch because I wanted to be thin like them. But like I said, I wasn’t them.
I would never be white and my classmates knew it. They made it obvious they knew it.
It took me moving to the Bay Area to be proud of who I am and what I look like. Now I’m in a place where I see people of different races everywhere. I walk down the street and everyone has a different body type. No one has the same style or personality. There are no carbon copies. I feel comfortable with myself because I see so many confident women who are proud of who they are. Now I know that it’s an awesome thing to be different. It’s something that is celebrated. It’s something that people strive to be.
I’m glad that I didn’t succeed in being like those girls back at my old school. I love myself, I have a lot of people in my life who love me too, and that’s something to be proud of.