Updated: Jul 10
I was 8 years old when my family and I moved to America. My parents didn't have any sort of idea on how to make a living here (Immigrant parents be like). The only reason they moved here was to provide my brother and me with a better education. In the first few months, my dad went through so many job interviews and nothing was working. So, he decided to start cleaning rooms in hotels to make ends meet. I remember arriving at work. A big hotel in Redwood City with fancy breakfast, a big lobby, and a beautiful lady at the front desk. I remember looking up at him and being so excited. My dad is a tall man, with large eyes and a smile that makes me feel strong, even during my roughest times. As I stretched my neck upwards to meet his eyes, I saw his amazing outfit; he was wearing a black suit and a red tie with beige stripes. This made him look like the richest and most powerful man in the universe. I always wondered why my dad wore suits to a job were he cleaned rooms. I realize now it was because he wanted to show us that we were okay, that we weren't struggling. He wanted to show the world that he's strong, and what he was doing showed me how to look strong even if I feel like I'm not (fake it till you make it!) I really hate talking about this time period of our lives, because it's when my family was most vulnerable and my little self had no clue. I used to be embarrassed by what my dad's occupation was but now I hold pride knowing my dad worked so hard for us. My family was struggling while I was running through the soccer field. I remember in third grade, I use to look around the playground and scope out all the boys to see which one was the most like my dad, Carlos. I found a boy who was kind, funny, and most importantly, knew how to share his crayons. As time passed by and middle school came around, I found my type in friends and people had changed. I had changed. I got bullied in sixth grade, which consequently made my depression and anxiety skyrocket (Ahh puberty!Such a nice time!) I remember feeling so attacked, belittled, and worthless. I projected my anger from school at home and pushed my parents away. I yelled and said the same things my bully told me. I was angry. I felt as if my dad lied to me about being strong, I found it impossible to fake strength every day. Every day I walked into school with my head down and sat in class trying not to be seen, as I was sitting right in front of my bully. He looked at me and said, "God created you as a mistake." He went on about how disgusted he was by me, words that hurt too much to write down. I pitied myself. I was not strong.
After that, I stopped opening myself up to new people and acted cold. I wanted to be seen as "bitchy" because then nobody would try to hurt me. This is what I thought strong looked like for a long time. Until the day my parents and I had our biggest fight. My "best friends" posted a video making fun of me on their Snapchat. While one of them said cruel things about me, the other cackled in the background. As I watched the video, I completely broke down. I was wailing and crying so loud as I saw them laughing on my screen. My mother ran to me from the kitchen and I didn't want to show her anything. I wanted her to leave me alone. I started taking my anger out on her and told her that I'm done, that I'm done with life, and I know it might seem childish but I was being serious. It really hurt to know that the people that you call your "best friends" pick on your biggest insecurities. The fight escalated as I was telling her I wanted to end IT. She angrily yelled at me (ofc) and then surprisingly, told me she gives up too. My dad came in and we all just started screaming at one another. I was hysterical, I had never seen my parents so angry. My mom took my hand and told me,"Let's go, let's go end our lives." I looked in her eyes and she looked like she was being 100% serious. She wasn't, of course, don't worry, she just wanted to make me realize how stupid what I was saying was. Life is so much more than middle school bullies, or any bullies as a matter a fact. As my mom suspected, I realized what I was doing and saying and when we got to our door, I stood in front of it and pleaded for my parent's forgiveness.
That day I realized how awful I was being, how unlike of me that was. I'm Dia. I'm done faking being strong; I am strong. I'm kind. I'm beautiful. I'm smart. I'm confident. I wanted to be happy. It took time though (a lot of it!) I was alone for a few months. Sitting in the library by myself, reading books in a corner. I finally realized how atrocious I had been for the past two years. Now, I'm a completely different person; I can't recognize myself from middle school, but that was still me. I'm ashamed of it but it was a part of who I was and a lot of kids go through the same things. I just hope they know that they'll be okay at the end! They just have to make that one decision to change, and then many decisions for change keep popping up. The best thing about this story is... I'm so glad it happened. It was a blessing in disguise! If that never happened, I would never be where I am today. I wouldn't have cut off my toxic best friends, and I would still be toxic with them. For a long time, I held resentment towards them, but now I'm happy that I had this experience, not at 32, but at 14 years old. I know what I'm worth. I know the way I deserve to be treated and I know how to treat others. My parents never left my side even after my atrocious behavior. My parents saw hope in me. I know you might be thinking "of course they didn't leave you, they are your parents" but in Indian culture, it's very common to send your kids away into a hostel to learn how to be well behaved (big oof)
I like to think that I'm a better person now than I have ever been, but I still have long ways to go. As cliche, as it sounds, life is about learning, loving, and living. All of us are already doing one of those things, so we might as well start the others! I thank my parents for being there for me and showing me what a good work ethic is, as well as teaching me important lessons... Because of them, I went from getting mostly C's to mostly A's. I went from having toxic friends to kind ones. I went from self-loathing to learning how to love myself. Of course, I'm not perfect; sometimes I still have setbacks on my self-esteem, like when someone doesn't text me back, I'll instantly assume that they find me annoying, which puts me back into a mindset of self-loathing. But I always realize that I don't deserve to feel that way, no one does. All I can say is that I'm trying to be my best self, and I didn't think it was too late for me to start trying. That's the key. It wasn't too late to change my life and the only thing deterring you from changing yours, is you thinking that it's too late. Even if you're 75 years old, you are never too old to change your life and who you are.
PROTIP: DONT COMPARE YOUR GROWTH WITH SOMEONE ELSE'S! IF YOU WANT CHANGE, ALL YOU NEED IS YOURSELF!! I KNOW IT'S HARD TO STOP BUT I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!!
This is my favorite quote that helps me with insecurities and dealing with jealousy through social media- maybe it could help you too:
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ― Steven Furtick My parents are amazing and I owe them everything I have in my life. I'm glad to have become a better daughter ( Although I still have a long way to go.) Throughout my life, my parents never made me feel as if we were poor. They never made me realize that we were struggling to survive. Knowing my dad, he would never want me to talk about it, he doesn't like showing weakness, especially in front of my brother and I. He's the reason my family is so strong. He's the reason that we've survived. He's the reason that I'm still here. He is my superman. My dad is my hero... he always has been. He didn't give up on me. I love my dad yeeee!!!