I believe one should accept themselves for who they are before they expect others to accept them.
As a ten year old moving to the United States from India, I suddenly found myself in a cultural clash of two totally different worlds. I was taken aback by how different everything seemed in Houston from back home. It was not long before I realized just how different I was too. All I wanted then was to assimilate into the American society. I longed to fit in with everyone else in my middle school and be acknowledged by my peers as one of their own.
Insecurity and the desire to fit in are probably true for most teenagers, but my quest for acceptance extended beyond just wearing popular brands of clothing or hanging out with the ‘cool’ kids. I hated how I spoke, the way my words came out, pronunciations heavily enunciated with my Indian accent, and I despised my frizzy black hair that stood out in a crowd. I dreaded the moment a teacher would pick on me, and I would have to answer a question in front of the whole class. I even tried to dress and act like the rest of my friends did. However, no matter how hard I tried, I could not be this idealized image of myself that I felt everyone would accept. I could only be me, the real version of it.
In time, I came to acknowledge, even treasure, the differences in me that made me stand out from others. I came to love my hair and after a while, my accent disappeared by itself. I may not be from the same part of the world as my friends are, but where I come from is a fundamental part of who I am. Being comfortable in my own skin gave me the strength to put myself out there more and not be afraid to be the first one to start a conversation with a classmate. When I stopped hiding under a cloak of pretension and started to expose more of myself to people, I ended up forming many new relationships and friendships that I was so close to never finding.
When I appreciated my background, it made it easier for others to embrace who I am as well. Going to a school, where at first, I felt like a complete stranger, helped me accept the qualities that me an individual. I can never go back to posing, because now I know there is nothing more liberating than being happy with exactly who I am as a person.
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