Fernando - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in being your own person. Every aspect of life affects who you are as a person but only you choose who you want to be. When I was five, my family and I moved to the United States from Brazil. I knew nothing about the culture and how life functioned in the United States.

In Brazil, life centered around the family. My best friends were my cousins and there wasn’t a place in town where I couldn’t find some distant relative. Now in America, the closest thing I had to family was my ESOL teacher. I became that foreign kid with the funny accent. I felt like the odd man out. But most people would think it really didn’t matter at that age.

Everyone in school traveled in packs designated by some pointless aspect of their personalities. There were multiple cliques that never intermingled with one another. This was most evident in middle school and progressed into high school. I just never understood the point of being a part of a group of people who pride themselves with looking just like one another. But naturally, as time progressed, I assimilated into American culture. I lost my accent and my ability to tan well. I was no longer recognizable as a Brazilian. I looked like any other American kid. My parents noticed the change of character and they didn’t approve. My own parents didn’t approve of who I had become. But of course, I told them it was their fault for moving here in the first place.

My father told me that I was losing my identity and culture because I functioned as an American. But I didn’t see myself as being fully Brazilian or fully American. Both aspects of my life had shaped me into who I was. Life is too short to go around trying to make anyone happy. This proved true for my parents because no matter what I did, I could always do better in their eyes. I guess that just means that they love me. Eventually my family matured and began to accept who I was. I am finally comfortable with who I am today. My purpose is not to fit into a certain crown but to be the person that I choose to be.

Everyone is subject to criticism in the “real world.” These days, judgment is passed way too easily on a regular basis. If anyone is remotely different than what is the social norm, assumptions are automatically formed. I respect the people that don’t choose to act upon their assumptions. People who choose to be individuals themselves are usually the ones who respect others for different qualities. Individualism is not defined solely by outer appearance. As people mature they begin to realize the importance of standing out. I believe in individualism; in being your own person.