Race and Connection

One of the things that made me feel alone as a teenager was my race. I was a minority in my middle and high school. The stereotype for kids in my racial group was that they were popular, good at sports, partied all the time, and did not care about school. I did not fit this description at all and naturally became friends with other kids. However, I was always insecure about why I did not fit in with my racial group. It confused my parents, who wondered why I did not want to become friends with my “own people”. Even though my group of friends accepted me as one of them, joking about how I had been assigned the wrong race, the outside world still saw me as different from them. Once, when we posted a picture of our friend group on Facebook, a classmate made a comment about how I was the one that did not belong. Another time we were meeting at a friend’s house for a party and the security guard let all of my friends in without questioning. However, when I arrived, he kept me in the front office until my friend came downstairs and explained that I was her guest. I laughed it off as a joke at the time, but when I got home I was so angry and upset, I burst into tears.
After attending university, I realized that the stereotypes about my ethnicity in high school were completely false. There are all kinds of people in every group; race has nothing to do it. I am friends with people “like me”, but I am friends with other people too. I wish I had not worried so much in high school about why I did not fit in. My inability to fit a stereotype was not a flaw after all; it was really a strength. The process of feeling different from others and learning to cope has made me more resilient and also more aware of the struggles of others.

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