In high school, I didn’t go to parties, didn’t drink like my peers, and often sat alone at lunch when one of my few close friends didn’t have the same lunch period. Even to this day, I have never been drunk and have never been to bars or wild parties. I have no desire to experience these things because it does not feel right for me and makes me uncomfortable. I do enjoy sharing a glass of wine with my mom at dinner on a special occasion but alcohol does not make me feel good and I choose to have some to enjoy with my food, not to fit in or to act socially acceptable. Drinking is just not something that I think about. After Thanksgiving 2017, I went to my 10 year high school reunion alone. About an hour before leaving, I started panicking and was about to chicken out, but my older sister gave me a pep talk and encouraged me to go. She advised me to get a drink and just hold it in my hand so that people would come up to me and so would fit in with everyone else. When I got to the venue, I got a glass of water and had fun seeing everyone while everyone else started getting drunk or walked in already drunk. Even though I didn’t follow the advice of my sister, I still felt uncomfortable when the party started to get loud (I also didn’t feel ashamed at all that my Dad dropped me off and picked me up because the party was in an unsafe neighborhood).
“I wish I could tell my younger self to care less about what other people think because their beliefs and opinions don’t make me any less of a person. What I keep reminding myself is that if I had gone back to my old school, I would have never met some of the most influential people in my life who contributed to who I am today”
When I was younger, I was made fun of for not drinking and for not wanting to do things that typical teenagers do. Growing up, I had a hard time fitting in with my peers. They recognized that something was different about me. I was teased about my “big” forehead and bullied for reasons I cannot even imagine. What made making lifelong friends difficult was that I changed schools a couple of times. After fourth grade, my mom and dad took me out of my school and enrolled me in another small school where I would get more assistance with learning. I was at this school for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade (the school went through 8th) when I finally went to my parents and said that I either wanted to go back to my old school or go to the public school where I knew a lot of people. I started here in 8th grade and graduated from this school. Having learning style differences was difficult and knowing that many of peers knew about this made me uncomfortable. I did not like taking tests with extended time because that meant taking it somewhere else. Whenever I was not in class for a test, I would get the sarcastic question from classmates, “where were you?” Of course I did not want to say that I was taking the test somewhere else because it always led to automatic judgement. I wish I could tell my younger self to care less about what other people think because their beliefs and opinions don’t make me any less of a person. What I keep reminding myself is that if I had gone back to my old school, I would have never met some of the most influential people in my life who contributed to who I am today. I have grown to appreciate my different experiences. The little girl in the picture was on her way to the first day of kindergarten not knowing where life would take her but I would tell that girl to trust the journey and appreciate each person and experience that helps her grow into the person she is today.