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Feeling like the Other

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There were a number of times in my life when I felt like the ''other'' by my peers. I felt excluded because of my socioeconomic background, this was during my youth. My parents are immigrants and when they first came to the United States they could not get good jobs because their English skills were poor. We therefore lived in a very small walk up apartment. We did not have decent furniture. My parents' bedroom was in the living room and my siblings and I were in one tiny bedroom. We had no toys and inadequate school supplies, because my parents could not afford it, we wore only hand me down clothing from other family members. The only new apparel item we had were one pair of shoes for school and cheap sneakers for the summer. We had never went to day camp or sleep away camp and spent the hot summers wondering the streets of Brooklyn, playing in the public playground around the corner . All of my peers from school were in day camp or sleep away camp, which made me feel like the ''other''.

These experiences made me think that I was different from my other peers and that there was something wrong with me .I also felt less confident, because I was very self - conscious of my appearance. I was also embarrassed to invite people to my apartment, and so I never had any friends at home, I preferred to go to others homes and play there they had nicer and larger homes, as there was also nothing to play with in mine.

What I also thought during these years was that this was the natural order of things and that was how things were for poor people, and that was how things were supposed to be. It was only in school that I felt better because I was away from home. I was a good student and socioeconomic lead was less of an issue. I was also a good athlete and frequently chosen to be in a team, this made me realize that doing well and being capable, caused people to respect you and that hard work and natural ability had value. I also began to admire my teacher who didn't judge me based on my poor clothing, but on my hard work. I began to think that hard work and education might give me more status. I began to appreciate the opportunities that an education might provide to empower one's socioeconomic status; I also began to realize that this country, for the most part, is a meritocracy, unlike the autocratic country my parents came from. One's economic status can change with hard work, opportunity, natural ability and determination.



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