What I Gained From Being an Outcast

Unsplash photo by Ryan Tauss

My story

I’ll tell a generic beginning: I moved schools from second to third grade. In the second grade, I remember myself being social and happy; I have proof from my Kodak disposable film photos. But from this move, I had a dramatic shift in personalty.

Somehow, it was a lot harder for me to make friends. I felt off from many kids, but after observing, I noticed my life was different from a lot of theirs.

I went to a school with all-white teachers, where my classmates were picked up in nice, new cars. Those in my area had huge houses with the newest backpacks and supplies. At least, the ones who had lots of friends and picked first while choosing teams for Field Day.

On the other hand, my mom, brother and I barely had a home to live in. By fourth grade, we were kicked out of our house with only a few months of notice from our own family. The three of us were forced to live with my mom’s boyfriend in San Bernardino, in which she sought a graveyard shift at her job about 45 minutes away. She would tuck us into bed, and when our alarms rang at 6am, she would be headed back to take us to school.

So my point: I felt different from many. It was hard to talk about. It was hard to talk at all. I still don’t necessarily feel valid for talking about this today.

Third grade during recess and lunch break, I would stall. I asked my teacher, who was old enough to be retired, if she needed help in the classroom. When there was time for in-class play, I would sit alone and she would come to me with pitiful eyes. She introduced me to a group of girls that had no interest in me, and I can’t say the same, but I didn’t care to try.

Instead, I would rather spend my time sorting books in the library- or thinking, reading, drawing and writing to myself. Being alone, at the end of the day, was quiet and peaceful. There was no one to please besides myself. I believe myself have had some sort of social anxiety for sure. At some points in time, I still do. This has been a factor throughout my life; my fellow introverts understand the struggle. But there were certain reasons that made me the way I was. It was this internal battle, and I had this wish that others around me could simply understand what I was feeling at the time, but I knew at some point or another that I needed to understand my own life. So a majority of the time, I kept to myself.

What this taught me about myself

I carried a load of emotional pain, and personally, I found it hard to withhold emotions. I was bad at shrugging off the thoughts, or distracting myself with something else until I didn’t feel it anymore. Everyone likes the person who could crack a joke or bring light into a room, compared to one who barely knows how to socialize.

It took to this day (and then on) to truly grow from this. Even now, I hate being in crowds and I don’t care about making friends, let alone, an effort to get close to many. All the music I would listen to, topics I would like and activities I’d enjoy wouldn’t interest those whom were in my environment, and I knew it. So I kept quiet about my own interests for a long time. It took a heavy toll on my confidence throughout the years.

It was a slow self-evaluating process that took years to eventually come out of this shell of mine, but there are a few concepts that I’ve carried through time:

Being outspoken and to have an opinion is only natural.

In human nature, it is only truth that everyone has opinions and biases. This means, a person is functioning under their own interpreted belief system, or someone else’s. In order to live as authentically as possible, it makes sense to make choices and express what you truly believe instead of the majority.

With any point that could be supported, it is a point valid to have. Especially when your opinion is one that is unpopular, there is probably a group of people that would believe the same thing you do elsewhere. All it takes is a bit of digging and socializing.

Questioning life and thinking deeper is the root to all problem-solving.

Relating back to my childhood experience, that point in time would continuously gnaw at the back of my brain for years. It meant something more than to have pity for myself, and that is to distinguish where my self-growth could be. In order to grow, it is important to determine where exactly this growth needs to happen.

The only way I decided to find that is by asking a lot of questions that created the vision of my reality and the ways in which I thought and reacted. The hardest questions have been the ones that I’ve benefited from the most, and to have that confrontation sooner than later goes a long way.

Forewarning: I’m not in any way a therapist. But this is solely my own learning experiences in order to solve my problems without paying money for one (but I highly encourage an outside support as such- if needed).

In a room full of people, no one is truly focused on your mistakes because everyone is solely focused in their own lives.

I had one of my most valuable friends- for only two months.

We sat in a restaurant sharing a plate of loaded nachos when I was trying to explain my thoughts on some topic we were conversing on. I continued to get lost in my explanations because some part of me felt like he was judging without even hearing the entirety of my comments. This happened often for me.

As he noticed, he told me to look around at the servers, the bartenders and the families and couples dining in. He allowed me to realize that each individual is focused on their own well-being at the same time of me attempting to configure my words. Why would I be worried about their opinion when everyone has the same exact worry as myself? It is only when I panic internally when it becomes evident to the external world, but if I could prevent that by not worrying what others think, it would make life a whole lot easier for me.

Although this nameless man is no longer a friend of mine, he has taught me something that’s allowed my confidence to bounce- just enough for me to finish a sentence without stuttering.

Have self-worth, and be unapologetically you.

With confidence comes self-worth; with self-worth comes humanly expectations to enhance a purpose-driven life.

After determining what I was capable of, or even potentially capable of, I discovered what I found to be acceptable from my relationship with myself and those around me.

I found myself asking questions like, “how should I treat myself in order to have the most ideal version of myself?”

Also, “What is important to me?”

“ What do I value?”

This was a guideline in order to create my own schedule and figure out certain priorities. Life is uncontrollable to a certain extent, and I’ve accepted that some things tend to work itself out over time. However, these are paradoxically microscopic, but grand, questions that mean the most in terms of having a life that’s guided by myself — and only myself.

This follows into who I surround myself with (the very few people I do). These are people that only bring forth factors that enhance my life. They add substantial meaning to it, even though it is a small crowd. I have a deeper relationship with very few people since I choose to only have a small circle. And I love it.

This is, ironically, exactly what drew me to writing. Throughout everything, I have always carried journals: all shapes, sizes and line-spacing. This was the place to be unapologetically me, without any concerns. This is a space to rage and discover life, its meaning and importance with a leading track of identity, confidence and self-worth.

What I gained

Being an outcast is truly a lonely and dark space where one is solely submerged in their own mind. It’s difficult to socialize with many and confidence drags on the floor.

But I suppose that is exactly it. To be thrown into your own mind for so many years is something to rather appreciate. It privileged me creativity instead of popularity. And confidence is something to distinguish over time as one realizes self-worth and internal growth.

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