By Sara Gamachu
Friday, November 22, 2013
I have always felt like I did not belong. I could not fit in to any group as a kid. People (in my personal and professional life) would be afraid that I would do something stupid or not correctly. It has taken me 3 decades and a lot of experience to realize that I truly did not belong. I did not fit in to any clique or adolescent group while I was in school.
Now that I think about it… my first taste of peer pressure was in 3rd grade when I begged my mom to get me a jean jacket so I could fit in with a group of girls in my elementary school. Ah, yes 3rd grade when my entire life changed. The fall of my 4th grade year, I was plucked from the innocent public school system into the big dogs of public school. It was the year I learned my first curse word (being a Pastor’s kid that is a huge mistake). By 6th grade, I flipped someone the bird on a dare. I can barely remember the other kid looking at me in shock. The kind of look like what have I done to deserve that? 6th grade was also the year that I was introduced to the junior high bullies. Problem is that they looked just like me… African American girls who called me names because I was very slender. It was after that horrific year that I stopped using the word skinny and referred to my body as slender.
By 7th grade, my parents chose to put me in a private school. Being in a religious environment would heal the scars of 6th grade bullies. I vaguely remember those 2 years. The parts that briefly come to mind were trying to fit in with my classmates. We were the first seventh and 8th grade class at the school. With that honor, those 2 years were filled with the greatest classmates a girl could have. For two brief years, we were all awkward teens just trying to deal with the world. To this day, I had a classmate actually ask me if I was all right. I remember that it was the last time I felt wanted or at ease.
By the time, I hit high school things changed again. I went to a different secondary school than my friends so that meant I had to start over. My parents describe the next 2 years as my rebellious stage. Yes, I was in an elite Christian school…but I was a teenager bent loose on being a normal teen. That meant I wanted the whole high school experience prom, homecoming, and the whole shebang. Sadly, that is not what happened. Let us just say I barely made it without by the skin of my teeth academic wise. I was a proud member of the “I Hate My Parents/Dad club.” Yep I put my parents through adolescent hell for those first 2 years of high school. By the time, my junior year came my parents thought homeschooling would be the solution. Yeah like being away from the cliques and crowds would help. It was that year that I decided to teach myself the math that I continuously failed at understanding the previous 2 years. Ah, Algebra meets thy doom. By the time, my senior year came my parents put me back into public school at an alternative high school. Now may I say that I actually blossomed my final year of traditional schooling. For once, I did not have to fight to fit in. All of my classmates (including myself) were considered what the traditional system would label as misfits. To be blunt the learning scale was so watered down anybody could have passed. To the shock to my family and myself I ended the year not only with a 4.0 GPA…I also received great achievement awards including scholarships to the local technical college in my neighborhood. I went from being a zero to a most liked student. I was so lucky to have some of the greatest educators who (in my opinion) saw the unknown skills that I had under my educational belt. It was that year that gave birth to my desire to be a great writer. Sure I have had teacher’s compliment me on my journal writing in the past… but for the first time I was part of the newspaper club at my school. For me that was the closest I could get at being part of the popular group. Yes I final belonged!
Now fast forward a few years. I had attended two separate colleges searching for that belonging feeling once again. It was during my second year, I found I was good at working with students with special needs. Ironic…a girl who barely made it through the school system wanting to help pave the way for kids who were labeled for not belong in their educational careers. Yes, you would think I had arrived in the sphere of belonging. I graduated from my program dreams of being a Paraprofessional/Teacher’s Assistant ahead of me.
I soon realized that I could not afford to get my Associates of Arts Degree so I entered the working world. Let me briefly tell you a few of my job positions that I took on the next few years. 1) Daycare provider, 2) McDonald’s crewmember, 3) Customer Service Assistant/Representative, and 4) Office assistant (in different genres).
It was somewhere around in the 2000s when I hit an exhausting wall when it came to belonging. I had just lost my job at a very élite home electronics retail company. I had given almost 4.5 years of my professional life to a job that when I thought I was at the highest of my “belonging” in my life. It has taken me years to realize those years would help me in my personal life.
It was in 2008 that I met my ex-husband. I was a girl next door who fell head over heels in love with a Southern person who happened to be in the military. The next few years are honestly a blur. What I do know was by the time I got out of that relationship I was nothing like the girl I used to be. Not only did I not feel like I belonged. Of my both self-confidence and self-esteem was shattered. I was put down verbally and emotionally. It was horrible. It did not even compare to the bullying I had endured in 6th grade.
Now it is 2013 and I am a single mother to an adorable little boy (who means the world to me). I am literally starting my life over from scratch. *I have been told by a former friend that my ex-husband has vowed to make my life miserable because I chose to leave an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. Yes, I, Sara, made the decision to leave a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship. The same family members that I had once turned on are now the ones who are helping me to rebuild my personal life. To them I would be forever grateful. I have friends and family around the globe who reached out to me telling me, “Yes you do belong!”
*On an interesting note, this friend (who will remain nameless) was someone I actually thought had accepted me during my marriage. One of those people who actually made me feel like I belonged.