I have one sister who is a year older, and a brother who is three years younger.

Growing up, there were times that all three of us got into mischief together. Then, there were times when they would gang up against me, and I very clearly remember what it felt like.

It wasn’t just loneliness. I felt rejected and unliked. Similarly, in school, I was ganged up against by the other girls. I sought acceptance. I wanted the coolest pens, I wanted mechanical pencils. Back then, mechanical pencils were really expensive because they were new. Oh, shaker pencils! I don’t know how many of you know about it, but they were cool because everyone had one and they came in many different colours.

But no, my mum decided that it was enough to have regular lead pencils and ball-point pens. My bag was gawky, my pencil case was old and scrummy. Definitely not a cool kid.

My mum wouldn’t let me keep my hair long, but my sis could.
My sis got to take ballet lessons, I couldn’t.
My sister got to have a birthday party, I didn’t. In fact, the first birthday party I had for myself was for my 18th birthday. And, my mum got to decide who to invite. My sister had several; my brother had his own too.
I had to wear specs and somehow, my mum never chose the nicer ones for me. Sure, she did ask me to pick. But she would always complain that they were too expensive. In the end, she got her way because she paid. My sis got to choose her own. My brother doesn’t wear specs.

Was I jealous of them? You bet. It was horrid. I wanted to kill myself; I tried convincing myself that I was adopted.

We graduated to Secondary school, and I entered the same school as my sister, again. I felt like a loser. My sister was class monitor, then school councillor. She had authority and people thought less of me.

Have I mentioned that I was bullied in school? When I was 8, I was bullied so bad on the bus to school, I called my mum from the public phone the minute I reached school. She didn’t want to come get me. She told me that it was nothing. From then, I guess I realized that I was on my own. Teachers couldn’t do anything. Besides, the bullies always come down harder on those who snitched, right?

Secondary school was even more of a pain. Going through puberty and seeking an identity is tough when everyone else seems so comfortable where they were. I was insecure.

I stole, I stopped doing homework, I tried to be bad, thinking it would help me assimilate with the bad kids. It didn’t work.

Then, I tried being good. Completing all my homework, being punctual, answering questions in class. Then they called me a teachers’ pet.

Nothing worked. So I gave up when I was 14. Then, I had two more years of Secondary school. I dreaded school, so I timed myself to reach just before attendance was taken.

Later, I moved on to college, where I started writing short stories and poems. I took a course in Mass Communications and somehow, forgot the need to fit in. I stopped trying. And, friends found me.

I started internship at a local newspaper and continued working there. Now, I am still in touch with friends from church and school, as well as miscellaneous activities I took part in.

What I’m trying to say here is to simply let go of your insecurities. Allow yourself to believe that you are the best that you let yourself be. Find something you like and hone your skill. Life gets so much easier once you accept that Change Starts From YOU.

It still isn’t easy for me to be emotionally honest with my mum because I feel betrayed by how she didn’t help me when I was 8. I am turning 20 next month. I am trying, but maybe it’s just me, but I can’t be emotionally honest with a lot of people, especially those whom I care for.

Maybe it’s because my feelings were dismissed when I was younger, maybe it’s because my parents seemed to prefer the opinions of my siblings instead.

But whatever it is, I realize that I find comfort in small groups of friends. And these people let me believe that I am worthy.

And yes, I am the black sheep of the family. I am not going to university, I party, I drink, I stay out late. I don’t have a conventional job (I am a journalist) and I stick out like a sore thumb, especially in my extended family.

But who cares? Acquaintances tell me that I am lucky that my job is essentially my interest. and how many people have the opportunity to make a living by doing what they love?

I got that chance, because I accepted myself. I am happy being the middle child because I chose to believe in the good things.

by Amanda