Growing up, I believed I had to be like others to fit in. I wanted to be liked, so I tried imitating my classmates believing that if I was like them they would like me. I now know that who I am doesn’t depend on others, I just need to be myself.
In first grade, I knew no one and didn’t fit into the cliques created, I wasn’t part of the popular group, the smart group or the cool group. Like every other kid I wanted to fit in with my class mates, but I went about it the wrong way. I would try to imitate those around me, to be like them so I could fit in. In sixth grade, I wanted to be like one of my friends I would occasionally hang out with. Everyone wanted to hang out with her, she knew who she was and wasn’t afraid to show it. She was fun to be with, outgoing, knew how to have an enjoyable time, and was confident in who she was. I was the opposite, not outgoing and wasn’t confident in who I was. I would be silent, invisible, I was afraid that if others saw the real me they would not like me. In school, I slowly faded to the background, a silent observer. I didn’t go out of my way to be seen, and when I did try to fit in with others it wouldn’t go well. For a while I would hang out with others, playing the violin, talking, or just messing around. Eventually they would leave me and go hang with others who were more like them. It felt as if we would only be friends for the brief time of our violin lesson, then at school she would forget about me. I would pretend that I was ok with everything, that being left for another was alright with me, but I wasn’t. It hurt every time that happened. Afraid that others wouldn’t like me if they knew the real me, I changed who I was and only showed them one side of me. I didn’t show others that I could be playful at times, they only saw the quiet studious girl. I changed from being open and playful to quiet and serious. Fear of rejection from my classmates caused me to change, first to be like them, then someone who wouldn’t be noticed by others. Time passed, and I decided to try and fit in with others again, but it didn’t work.
My freshman year of high school came, and like other freshmen I looked up to those in grades above me. There were four girls who I looked up to the most. Two were seniors and two were juniors. These girls were beautiful, smart and liked by everyone at school. I wanted to be like them but didn’t know how. I wasn’t pretty, wasn’t smart, and didn’t know how to act around others. I decided that though I looked up to them, I wanted to be my own self. I would try to remain who I was, and not change for others. It wasn’t easy though and old habits die hard. I liked who I was, the quiet girl who preferred doing her homework, reading, and just being by herself to hanging with fake friends. I didn’t go out of my way to fit in anymore, didn’t pretend to be someone I wasn’t, I tried to stay true to who I was on the inside. I found a good friend, someone who didn’t care who I was or how I acted. We got along well, and I could be myself around her, I had finally found someone who liked me for me. Whenever there was a group project we wanted to do it together. We understood each other and worked together well. She helped me realize that changing for others was not the way to go, and I shouldn’t do that anymore.
Starting at a new school the next year, I decided that I wouldn’t change who I was to fit in anymore. Here was a chance to show others who I was on the inside, no more hiding. They didn’t have a preset idea of how I acted or who I was, they knew little to nothing about me. It wasn’t too hard making friends this time because there were more people at school now, I was able to find people who I could be friends with and wouldn’t judge me for being me. I no longer had to pretend. At my old school, people only saw me as the girl who did her homework the one you would go to if you needed help with something. It was hard to show others that there was more to me, that I wasn’t only about school work. At my new school, I still hid who I was with others around. Only showing my other side to people I was comfortable with. Slowly I was able to open to others, but it was hard for me, I kept wanting to change to fit in
I once believed that to be liked, I had to change who I was, but I now know better. I wish long ago I had learned I don’t have to change who I am to be liked. I am getting better at showing others who I really am, but it is still hard for me to do because I have been hiding that side of me for so long. After years of trying to change who I was, I finally realized that even if others don’t like who I am it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is I like who I am.