Since I was very young, I struggled to feel accepted. I never quite felt like I belonged anywhere. The feeling of isolation ate me up – and every other night I would find myself lying in bed as a child, just praying that someone, anyone, would accept me as their own. It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized that these feelings were actually quite common. Here is how I went from feeling rejected to feeling accepted in my adult life.
I was often picked on for being “quirky”. From time to time, even my family and friends would point out how eccentric and silly I was as a child. Although they didn’t usually mean harm, the name-calling and teasing started to pile up on me. I began to have a much lower self-esteem. I also started to feel like I couldn’t be myself anymore. I didn’t want to be eccentric. I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to be “like everyone else” or “normal”. This absolutely wrecked me, for many years.
I kept it all inside. I went from a peppy, excitable, and happy child to a reserved, distant, and depressed teen. All because I wanted to feel accepted for who I was. I didn’t want to feel like an outsider. It was probably my worst fear – that I didn’t belong. I became a very quiet person throughout my late middle school and early high school years. I kept all my passion to myself. I kept my emotions to myself. I hid who I really was.
Then, within a few years of starting high school, I finally met some like-minded individuals – through the internet, of all places.
I was able to share my passions without judgement. I finally found similar people who I could share my creative hobbies and ideas with. When I was old enough, I met up with them – and eventually I started to feel like I was living again. I finally managed to find a group of people I felt loved and accepted in. The world became so much brighter. While I am still working to overcome my feelings of depression from the many years I spent alone and isolated, it’s been made much easier with the support and kindness of my new friends.
I feel like all we hear are horror stories about the internet, which, truth be told, has been a powerful way for bullies (and worse) to have unlimited access to children. It is, of course, vital that children and parents be aware of the dangers of unrestricted internet time, and that children be taught appropriate safety precautions, as they are with strangers in real life. However, as in real life, not all strangers are evil, and sometimes your community is out there, just waiting to be found. I am very grateful for the internet, because it allowed me to find a group of people who saw me for who I was and accepted me, warts and all.