I've always felt like an outsider.
Growing up as a biracial kid in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood was great and also really difficult. With a Korean mom and Jewish dad, there were hardly any other kids that looked like me or came from a home with mixed cultures. Even though I went to a Korean church, I always felt like an outsider because I wasn't "Korean" enough. I got bullied at school for looking different, especially in middle school. My nickname became "stinky chink," and it stuck.
One girl took it upon herself to torment me any chance she got. Anytime she caught me alone, she would tell me to watch my back because she and her friends wanted to jump me after school. Every day, as soon as the last bell rang, I ran to my bus as fast as I could to avoid getting beat up. It got to the point that I was afraid to be at school, so my parents put me in karate so I would be able to defend myself if I needed to.
I never did get jumped - I guess those girls had enough fun knowing they were terrorizing me. Even though they didn't physically hurt me, the emotional pain was hard for me to process at that age. Middle school was the first time I considered suicide. I remember being home alone one day and holding a big kitchen knife in my hands, wondering if I had the courage to plunge it into my stomach. Gory and dramatic, I know. But I was so miserable and and felt so alone, it felt like a good option.
That wasn't the last time I considered suicide. There have been other moments that being alive felt so difficult and unbearable, that leaving this world felt like the best option. The feeling of being a human was too much for me. It's not that I wanted to leave behind the people in my life; it's that existing simply felt too painful.
In my twenties, I overdosed on sleeping pills in a state of feeling lost and utterly alone. Luckily, I came to my senses immediately after and called two friends who took me to the ER and stayed with me. I am so glad I survived that day, because my life since then has been full of beautiful experiences.
Now that I have much more life experience and compassion for myself , I have much more clarity about those difficult times. I simply wanted what all humans want - to be accepted, valued and loved. I needed connection - with others and myself. In middle school, I didn't have the language or awareness to articulate my feelings, so I fumbled my way through the best I could. At age 35, I still feel like I'm fumbling along this journey, but with much more self-awareness, self-love and skills to navigate life's challenges.
I see now that every difficult path I've walked has led me closer to myself. It's allowed me to cultivate empathy and kindness towards people. Because I know what it's like to feel like an outsider, I have a strong desire to be inclusive and caring in my interactions with others. It allows me to connect with the people in my life in a deeper and more meaningful way. I have a lot of gratitude for my difficult life experiences, because they've given me the opportunity to practice resilience, courage and strength, all of which I still practice every day.
I don't know what life holds for me, but I do know that whatever challenges I face next, I will find some way through it. I have an amazing support system of friends and family, a toolkit of mental health professionals, doctors and spiritual mentors, but most importantly, confidence in myself. Connection with myself. Love for myself. The inner knowing that I already have everything I need within in.
If you are going through challenging times or feel like an outsider, know that you're not alone. You are not the only one who feels this way. The nature of life is change - however you feel in this moment will not last forever.
I love you.