There are so many movies that have portrayed the life of a teenager trying to fit-in especially in a new school. So many characters, plots and environments movies somehow hit the nail on the overall point that it is hard to fit in.
Well, today I shall tell you the real deal. This is my personal experience in trying to fit-in during my early and mid-teen years. The road is definitely not easy. But somehow life has a way of letting you reflect upon your past and making it all seem worthwhile; no matter how painful. Being Kenyan, this means that majority of my teen years were actually spent in school, which makes the core environment for all of these struggles to occur.
This was really hard to reveal but I believe that as long as one person reads and appreciates it at a personal level… I will feel like Popeye having seen some spinach!
My parents are in love with their careers. They actually made sure that their careers were steady even before they thought about marriage. This worked out perfectly for them even after they had the three daughters they proudly call their own today…Hehe!
Their type of work really affected our residential and schooling options from the moment my sisters and I were toddlers. We were like Gypsies; moving here and there trying to fit in neighborhoods, workplaces (for my parents) and even schools.
We had a humble but fun beginning that ended up being very beneficial to our personalities. We literally know how to interact with people from sharply different and dynamic backgrounds. Just imagine this as part of our neighborhood range: Machakos -Riruta – Westlands – Adams and more.
My parents fought hard for their strong belief in education. This is why we had to go to the best of schools around the neighborhoods that we were living in. But much as my parents felt that the best is yet to come, my sisters and I were in for a rude shock.
During my early years of school I can remember being so energetic and out-spoken. I got along well with people and my teachers. The only thing I regretted was the heavy damage on my English language by my English teacher who taught us with a serious Central-Kenyan accent.
It took some time to correct and adjust the language to a more finely-tuned one. I liked how people in this school appreciated simple things in life. I felt happy. No one tried to boast about their background or even their abilities or looks. The only competition I felt was in class work in getting the best grade ever. This made me appreciate healthy competition.
Onto my next school which up-to-date is ranked amongst the best private primary schools in Kenya. This opened a new aspect of academic competition and social competition in my life. The director of the school was just amazing. You could literally walk into her office with a problem and she would offer you a great solution, a warm pat on the back and let’s not forget the yummy tea and cookies she offered.
Unfortunately, the struggles of a teenager to fit in a new school are along a lonely, painful, yet necessary path that has to be followed. One thing my sisters can attest to is that we barely even crossed paths in this new school. This is because we were so busy trying to fit-in as well as hide away from potential drama that often happened.
In this new school, things were sharply different. All I heard boys talk about was money, cars, girls and the latest video games. It seemed like what I often see in the cliché teen movies. The hot guys who are often not so good with class work are the ones who dress different and play sports, who get the cutest girls and everyone worshiped the ground they walk on.
The girls often talked about fashion, celebrities, music and obviously the hot guys in school and which ‘enemy-girl-click’ was trying to get their claws on their boy-targets. The hot girls also less often had good grades but had the greatest support from their girl-clicks.
In this school the academic competition was not important to the “popular” but seemed like everything to those who were not so popular, me included. To be honest, books meant everything to me. My lovely teachers supported me and seeing the smile on my parent’s face with all the A’s on my report card and the satisfaction I felt afterward meant everything to me.
I was a GEEK!!!
I used go to the library everyday to read on Astronomy because that is what I wanted to pursue later-on in life; an Astronomer. I grasped all I could about the universe; the heavenly bodies, their components, the distances and temperatures, elements in the planets, even the formation of the sun and more.
Break time was 30minutes but I spent 10 eating and finishing homework and 20 in the library. The librarian got fascinated and even had a few books on astronomy on reserve just for me.
While for the other “popular kids” they would take a break as they ate, flirted, danced, slapped on some make-up and discuss television shows and music videos.
The worst happened when the GEEK and the POPULAR STUD crossed paths!
If you were to imagine this in a movie, I would probably be the Gothic girl who has few friends and likes strange things and just knows rock music and no other. She would probably hate the cheerleaders because of how they treat her and happen to be not so crazy when the school’s hottest guy and friends speak to her.
In real sense, I actually listened to nothing else but rock music. I disliked the girls who had nothing else to talk about but make-up, boys and their wealth. I got bullied by some of the girls just for talking to guys they liked, some went on to even attack my background that was not as prestigious as theirs. Some of these kids had extravagant backgrounds; Judges, Politicians, Business giants, Celebrities and even Army generals.
As a young girl in this situation with nothing but my good grades to try to stay relevant, I went into withdrawal. That is how I dealt with it all. I did not want to bother my elder sister who was quite popular simply because I felt that she would not understand this “Geek’s” point of view. My younger sister seemed to be in a more relaxed stage as she made friends with few but adorable friends.
I felt really bad when some of my social mess befell on my younger sister who the “popular kids” thought they could use to attack me. I really wonder why they bothered with me if I was as useless as they tried to make me believe.
My steps were carefully watched and criticized!
High school was just a phase that I guess I went into depression. Everything seemed confused and boring. I made friends pretty well though I preferred walking alone and tried to re-define my principles. I met amazing people there too though the struggle was hidden deep within me. With the shock of being in a girl’s only boarding school made it even worse. I did not fancy being around girls that much.
I think I just did not enjoy the overwhelming constant talk about things I did not even like. Other personal reasons combined with this made it even worse. Depression happened again!!! Even worse, the timing was pathetic; during my final examinations; KCSE. The depression certainly reflected in my grades. My parents were not happy at all.
So then came University!!! I practically did everything for myself apart from paying my fees. I felt happy because I could somehow start over. I went ahead with it with 100%. It sure paid off. I made friends pretty slow but sure, my confidence had been boosted, I liked how this new phase felt. Even my
grades started shooting high and my parents became happy once again.
I was able to get a best friend who was actually a guy which was pretty cool. I got to become friends with lovely divas and roommates who just made my days awesome. Even better, being in a Christian University motivated my boost in confidence. I lived fearless!!!
I cannot help but think of the hurdles my children in their teens might go through. I know it is a solitary road to discover oneself but I just hope it won’t be as bad as mine.
All I appreciate is that I became so comfortable with myself and my esteem has reached a peak level that just amazes me.
To anyone who may be reading this, I hope that you now understand that the journey to self-discovery is risky, long and tiring. But, in the long run, no matter what your story may have looked like, it will all be worth it. You never leave empty-handed. Your heart always end up full and your confidence sky-rocketing.
You are a unique being.
Discover who you are within and embrace it all!!!