I can’t help but feel like an alien in an environment where everyone else seems to be so similar. Throughout my life, I can recall events when I’ve felt so alone that I was sure I was detached from the rest of the world. Here’s my story:
When I entered kindergarten, I didn’t know a word of English. The new ‘English’ name that my teacher called me and the language that everyone spoke were all so unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me. What I dreaded the most was recess and lunchtime. People already had their own cliques and play spots, but all I could do was stand there. The language barrier that stood between me and the world seemed indestructible.
As I grew older, I began to gain weight. I stood out immensely in a friend group of thin girls, and I absolutely resented it. I constantly wondered what people would think of me when I was with my friends: perhaps ‘the fat girl’ or ‘the one who doesn’t belong.’ When I told people I did ballet, some would smirk, while others would be confused on how such a chubby girl could possibly balance on her little toes. The environment I was in- my friend group, ballet studio, the world- was so toxic, and once again, I felt alone.
Today, I have conquered these obstacles. I am now fluent in both English and Korean, and I am confident with my body. I always had a book in my hand, probably a Judy Blume or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and I went out of my comfort zone by talking to people. Even if that meant speaking in Korean (yes, no one understood a single word I was speaking), I made the effort to interact with as many people as I could. With practice, I naturally began to build my vocabulary and making friends became easier. In order to gain confidence with my body, I adapted a healthier lifestyle. I cut out the soda, chips, and late night snacks and replaced them with activities I enjoyed, such as swimming. I also made sure to treat myself, but I learned to find a balance.
But what I believe truly helped me get through all this was a strong support system. When I was upset, I had my mom’s shoulders to cry on. When I was having a hard time in ballet, I reached out to my ballet teacher and expressed my insecurities to her. The fact that someone was there to listen to my story was all I needed, and I appreciate every single person who was there for me throughout these times.
This does not at all mean that I don’t feel isolated anymore. It’s a feeling that everyone will feel at least once in their lives, and I know I will be constantly fighting this battle with myself. If you perhaps feel a similar way and need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to Teen Line.
— Amy, 17