Avoiding Crisis

on fitting in and being accepted

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When my daughter started her new school this past year I had a rather difficult time with it.  During the first week of class I remember watching her from the window while she got to know both her teachers and classmates.  While she wasn’t the only new kid, she was the only non-native Spanish speaker, the only non-Argentine; she was different. 

While I can only assume that for most parents a child’s first days at school are difficult – they are a reminder of how quickly children grow and how we must learn to let them go; for me, it was much more than this. 

As I stood and watched my daughter, it wasn’t that she was growing up and going to school that got to me (she has been attending some type of preschool since 15 months) it was that I feared that she wouldn’t fit in, that she wouldn’t make friends, and that she would be rejected by her peers.  Would the other children play with her?  Would she be invited for play-dates after school?  I cried on more than one occasion as I left her at the school not knowing what was going on inside the classroom, terrified that she would be alone, unable to communicate with her peers, unable to relate.  That they would see her as an outsider, as different. 

The more I thought about these feelings that I was having and the more I talked about them, the more I began to realize that they weren’t really about my daughter.  They were about me.  They were my own fears and insecurities that I was projecting onto her.  She was only three-years-old at the time, she didn’t have any of these worries.  She didn’t realize that she was an outsider, a child from another country with a different language.  She spoke Spanish just like the other children – albeit, with a slight Peruvian influence, but she spoke their language nonetheless.  She didn’t care that they didn’t speak English at home.  All she wanted was someone to play house with, to color with, to sing and dance with.  My thoughts and concerns were not about her, they were about me.  They were my own fears, some unfounded others born of memories, of not fitting in, of rejection, of being a loser.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  You can’t just wake up one day and not care what other people think of you.  It’s just not possible.  I know, I’ve tried.  You can’t just ignore the need to be accepted and wanted, to be liked and to be popular.  I know that there are those people who claim to just not give a crap about what other people think, they, I believe, are completely full it.    

During those torturous first days of school I was sent back in time to relive my own childhood and adolescence.  I’ll admit it, I wanted to be popular, I envied those who were and wondered what made me so different.  I wanted everyone to like me, to think I was special, to see me as beautiful, to be my friend.  While I had many friends growing up – absolutely wonderful friends, some who remain my closest friends to this day – I wouldn’t exactly consider myself to have been in one particular clique.  I never quite felt like I fit in anywhere.  This may come to a surprise to some, but for most of my life I have felt as though I’ve been on the outside looking in on those around me, even those people closest to me.  It’s a constant struggle.  One that I hope I do not pass on to my children. 

As I’ve gotten older, these insecurities have faded.  And yet, they remain.

             

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Written by nicolemarie

January 19, 2007 at 11:01 pm

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