hello everyone! this is a piece that I wrote about my “life’s story” for my Creative Writing class earlier this year – I thought that it may be of interest to you to read —— let me know what you think 🙂
Growing up is an interesting concept that some of us feel like we have to live up to. Coming of age movies give these perspectives on what it is like to grow up and what you should aspire to be. I always have felt and still do feel like an outsider in my own life. I moved a lot in my childhood. From the serenity of a small town to a new state in a wealthier and bigger town than what I was used to seeing.
Along with growing up, I still feel like I have not found a place called home. My extended family resides on the east coast and even though I have grown up there, visiting them feels more like home to me. I romanticized getting older, moving to New York City, or out of the country to find somewhere that understood me. Like the main character in Lady Bird, speaking about how she wishes she could live through something and move far away from her ‘hometown’.
I never wanted to conform to what others were doing. At ten years old (and honestly, even today), my priorities in life were as follows in no order: Disney Channel shows, Archie Comics, music, sitcoms, movies, Harry Potter, and politics. In elementary, I would get up at 6:30, just to watch the morning news for updates on the 2008 race. I got absorbed into the stories of the day, buzzing to discuss with anyone who would listen. Hardly anyone listened or cared, everyone was too busy giving heart eyes at boys I cared little for. However, I could discuss the newest Stefon’s appearance on SNL’s “Weekend Update”, Fall Out Boy’s latest album, honestly everything pop culture-related that people were willing to hear.
Kids around me didn’t understand my obsession with things out of my age range and until I graduated high school, I struggled to find groups that accepted me. I had few friends, only two of them have stuck with me all the way since sixth grade.
I knew everything that was being said about me, girls prank calling my house saying horrible things I would never repeat, online bullying, and it followed even in places I felt safe. Theatre.
I found sanctuary in fifth grade doing tech for the school’s show, Alice in Wonderland, and fell in love with musical theatre. This led to years of acting classes, singing lessons, choir, nerve-wracking auditions, and a plethora of shows. But, even in a place where I felt safest, I still felt like a visitor. I was never invited after rehearsal to hang out or study and I knew it was deliberate. I have seen the looks and heard the whispers when I have tried to be friendly, help others rehearse, and just wanted to be included. So, I regularly went home after rehearsals to the computer that was consistently there for me and didn’t leave me out of the loop.
Online is where I truly found my friends, those who understood me, who knew what I was going through, and wanted to talk about my favorite things. I frequently went to concerts and blogged about them, read fan theories about whatever show I was into at the time, and met online friends through DMs. I still keep in touch with many of them from my teenage years. One girl, in particular, I have talked to every day for the past four years. Nicole lives in New York and even though we still have never met in person, she has become one of the only girls in the world who sees the world just like I do. If everyone saw the glass half full, that girls deserve to be how they want, that you are enough. Nicole has taught me to love openly and strongly. Nicole has helped me more than she will ever know. To me, it is impossible to think that all of your soulmates, romantic or platonic, just happen to live in your town. There are 7 billion people in the world and I found one of mine.
When I reminisce about growing up, I can piece together another reason I did not find acceptance in my daily life. I had trouble understanding and liking myself. Events, relationships, etc. that never made sense about my adolescence started to click like never crushing on anyone or how I repressed feelings I did not understand, so I pushed them down as far as I could. In my junior year of high school, I came out to friends and immediate family as Bisexual. (November 2020 update: I wrote this back in March/April and I have now come out as Gay/a Lesbian. So crazy how much growth can happen in a short time.)
All throughout K-12, I kept struggling to live. Although I wanted to stay under the radar and not to be talked about, I did not want to change myself either. It felt like everyone wanted to follow the formulaic path of what your teenage years were supposed to be like. I felt like I wasted mine being sad and alone for years after. Cliques were real and they were judgmental, just like the plastics in Mean Girls, except they were everywhere and sometimes hidden in people you would not expect.
When I finally left the terrors of my K-12, I stayed in my hometown when everyone else left to go to college in places I always dreamed of living. My first two years of college staying in my hometown were filled with work, homework, commuting to school, and trying to find that college experience that I so desperately wanted from my television screen and failing in the process.
One weekend, I visited my two best friends, who have stayed with me since the sixth grade in Ann Arbor to go to my first protest. That whole weekend, I felt that high of living through something that Lady Bird described of life always staying the same and never changing. I called my mom, telling her all about the clubs my girls were a part of and the incredible classes they were taking. I couldn’t believe that they feel this way every day at school. That weekend, I decided to apply to transfer to the University of Michigan for Fall 2019.
Ann Arbor has become the home that I have looked for in the Midwest. In my short time here, I have found so many of my closest friends, clubs, volunteer opportunities, and campaigns where I get to make real-world differences little by little. I still am the little kid at heart. If you ever get a chance to visit my dorm room, my side is overflowing with memories of my childhood, such as Spiderman, Baymaxes, Paddington Bears, crystals, and even more.
“So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower0