Adolescence was a time in my life that I will never forget. Not because it was the most amazing time in my life, but because it was a very difficult one.
Growing up in the Coquitlam suburb of Vancouver was tough. My school only had two South Asian girls, one of them being me. I also sported glasses, hair on my arms and a little bit of a moustache. I was different and kids were mean to me because of that, especially the girls. They would make fun of how I dressed, the food I ate, they wouldn’t let me play hopscotch with them and they talked behind my back.
When I changed schools for grade 8, I tried to change myself in hopes of being ‘normal’ so people wouldn’t mock me and maybe I would have some more friends. I got contact lenses, waxed my moustache and got new clothes. It worked for a while. Girl’s were nicer to me and I was making friends, with the popular girls! But I couldn’t forget the past. My inner fears and insecurities held me back from discovering the full potential of who I could be and what I could do.
I wanted to join the basketball team, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough. I wanted to try out for the school fashion show, but I thought I wasn’t pretty enough. I wanted to be involved in a school production but I thought others would laugh at me.
Home was my haven. When I would come home from school, hurt and sad from the kids being mean to me, my mother would wrap me up in her warmth and say things to make me feel better. No mother wants her daughter to feel the way I did.
I also lost myself in books. My appetite for reading was insatiable because it allowed me to get lost in another world, a place that was different than where I was. But it only pushed away the reality until I finished the book.
Today, even though my insecurities may pop up once in a while, I am a different person than I was as a young girl. As a parent, I want to make sure my children never feel the way I did. I want them to grow feeling confident in themselves, their abilities and the people around them. I don’t want them to come home from school sad or crying because kids were mean to them. I don’t want them to pretend to be sick so that they can stay home from school. I want them to love books because reading can be an amazing new adventure with each new book, not because they want to escape a their life. I want them to feel like they can do anything and try anything they want, because that’s how life should be.
Sharing this part of my childhood is difficult but it’s important. Especially right now as we are coming close to the first GDay in Vancouver, A Day For Girls on April 28, 2014. G Day is a new global social movement anchored by day-long events that celebrate, inspire and empower girls ages 10 to 12 as they transition into adolescence. To find out more or to get involved visit: gdayforgirls.com and follow the hashtags #gdayforgirls and #gdaystories.