In life, if I had to check a box that clarified who I am and what category I fit into, I would choose “other”.
Everywhere you go, there’s a symbolic placement you must figure out. Fitting in is more mental than physical. Although, your physical attributes and image does play an introductory part. All my life I’ve been the odd man out, as I never “fit” into any box. People flocked to me, nonetheless, but who wouldn’t want to befriend the spotless leopard?
I’m only 5’9 and 150lbs; I was always shorter and smaller than my peers (unlike my middle brother who is 6-foot-something). I wasn’t good at sports, so I wasn’t a jock (like my baby brother who is now a college athlete). I wasn’t into drinking and smoking, so I wasn’t considered the “bad boy” (like my cousins and homeboys). During my adolescent years I wore glasses, so I wasn’t considered the “cool guy” who got all the girls (like my classmates). That’s the physical.
Race and social class make up for the mental. I come from a two-parent home, and where I was born and raised (Gary, Indiana), that lifestyle wasn’t the norm. My brothers and I were called the “ghetto Huxtables” by some of our family members and friends. Jokes on them. Everybody loved the Huxtables.
Over the past decade, race isolated me. Not in a “hey nigger” type of way. It was more environmental. I went to three different high schools, with the first one being predominately Mexican. My second high school was predominately black. Hell, it 110% black. Then the last two years, my parents moved my brothers and I to a white neighborhood, where I attended an all-white school (one of those large schools you see in movies), and from there I graduated.
Was it an environmental change for me? Yes.
Did I adapt easily? Hell no.
In fact, I didn’t adapt at all. My brothers did.
Although, this culture shock prepared me for college and later in life. Now as an adult, boxes are still being forced to check, but I’ve embraced my difference. I’ve empowered myself with confidence, something I developed in the 8th grade. Granted I now wear contacts, but I still suck at sports. Life is about progression, not impression.
I didn’t mentally alter myself or conform to what society assumed I should be. My dad calls me a trailblazer, and there is nothing wrong with paving your own way. That’s how leaders are born.
#SheaWidsom Being yourself is originality.