Past: Who Will Accept Me?
Every person needs a place to feel that they are welcome, a place where you can forget your problems and know that you are going to be okay. Unfortunately, I was not one of those people who had that during my childhood. I cared about what people thought of me, I was a victim of bullying and had no concept of self-worth. Where could I go in my life where I could be accepted? How did I go about trying to be accepted?
I found myself having to switch gears and play different roles just as a means to fit in. I was scared of being bullied. I did not know what others liked about me. I was not sure where I could find verification, and I was incapable of finding that verification within myself.
From childhood until college, I struggled to find my place of acceptance. I had no chances of being in the in-crowd and the out crowd did not know I existed. I was walking my own path, trying to find a place to seek comfort.
I became aware of this problem when I began elementary school in the Catholic School system. My neighborhood was comprised of middle class children who were educated by the failing Philadelphia public school system. I must also add that these children were also black, whereas my elementary school was racially diverse. I know this may not seem relevant, however the cultures you are exposed to at an early age, can have a large impact on how socially tolerable you are of others.
Children in my neighborhood called me things like “white boy,” “nerd,” “loser,” or anything they could think of to make me feel inferior. I recall having to fight kids because that they perceived me as snobby or that I had a superiority complex against these kids. I did my best to try to fit in, but instead I was just considered, the good kid in a black neighborhood.
I was not the only African American child who had this problem, there is one of us in every black neighborhood. The kid who wants to make themselves better, the kid who tries to leave his hood because they know they can do better. But are we accepted? We aren’t we are considered to be outcasts of our own kind. Yet of course, this is not limited to just African Americans, it appears to be a problem for most racial minorities to some degree.
Every racial/ethnic minority of any kind can relate to having to put on different hats when they are in different environments. At an early age, I had to put on my “Catholic School kid hat” and when I was home I had to put on my “Philly kid hat.” As you could imagine that was like having to act as Dexter from Dexter’s Lab one part of the day and then acting as Huey from The Boondocks in other part of the day. Having to act one way in one place and another in another did not do very much help to my ego, especially when I was considered an outcast regardless of where I went.
No matter where I went, or how I tried to gauge my social surroundings, I still was the butt of every joke. I still felt that I did not belong. The only place I did feel like I belonged was with my family. Yet unfortunately that changed as well as I grew older.
Unlike some people, I do not exactly have the healthiest relationship with my family. The family members I did have that are close to me are dead (for the exception of my grandmother and a few select cousins and other family members). I did have a time in my life where I felt at home and like I had a place where I belonged, but unfortunately that changed as I matured. Much of this has to do with the fact that I don’t share much in common with my family, and even worst I have family members who bully me, just in the same way as people in school did. Like I said before, as I grew, I had nowhere to go, I felt no place of comfort, the world just was not a place where I belonged.
There are many different ways I tried to seek a home. Sometimes it was by pretending to be someone I wasn’t. No matter how I tried to reinvent myself, I still felt empty inside. Playing the actor instead of being the person you are became very exhausting. For a great part of my life, having to run to find a place of comfort lead me to a lot of failure, loss and disillusion. I felt like I was playing trial and error and eventually burned out into a deep depression.
Eventually I found a number of places to call home. Some places of comfort were more welcoming than other’s. I guess you can say the first home I found was not through a friend, but through a substance.