Dear Younger Za’Nyah,
As a kid in third grade, I thought I had to be like everyone else in order to have friends or to be happy. I would get invited to sleepovers, birthday parties, and have a large, fun group of friends. A group of people who accepted me.
Around about fifth grade, I learned that actions speak louder than words and have consequences. I noticed that I wasn’t happy with my current friend group. A ton of my actions were influenced by them, such as being disrespectful and rude to people who wanted nothing but the best for me. Knowing my attitude changed, I continued to make the same decisions that made me feel less of a person, because as long as I was happy and had friends I was fine.
Deep down I always knew I was a totally different person than the image I portrayed. I hated the fact that I had to change in order to feel like I belonged. I began to distance myself because once I’ve identified that I made a mistake, I felt like I was being judged, not by anyone else but by myself.
I looked at myself as different and abnormal. I beat myself down and slowly cornered myself, my passions, thoughts, and feelings. I became shy and not as outgoing. My mom noticed this drastic change in my character and tried with all her power to motivate me to go after everything I was passionate about, shutting out all of the negativity.
It wasn’t until I reached eighth grade when I finally chose to listen to her and reconnect with my true authentic self. I started engaging in activities I loved, like basketball, trying to draw, and listen to so many genres of music.
I became so much more confident with myself and my interests. I soon became close friends with a small group of like minded individuals. Those people have been there my whole journey, I always overlooked them because I was brainwashed that being unique was weird. Those same wonderful people are the ones who inspired me to shine brighter than I’ve ever shone before. Surrounding myself with helpful, loving, determined, and passionate people has helped me in the long run.
Although I’m still shy, as I am heading into my freshman year of high school, with these memories and morals tattooed on my brain, remembering that it’s fine to be unique and outgoing. Although it’s cliche, I learned to be myself, when you are yourself you tend to attract internal and external happiness and will inspire others who may be struggling to find themselves.
Love, Future Za’Nyah
Za’Nyah Banks – Trinity High School – DMSF