I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like an outsider. Growing up Asian was tough. I always stood out and not in a good way either. This picture says it all right?
Our family escaped communist Vietnam in 1979 and long story short, God gave us a new home in America. My mom was the only English speaking one from our clan.
I was 9 when I learned English in an ESL (English as a second language) class with 20 plus refugee students from several different countries. Even among kids from similar circumstances, I felt odd. Like I didn’t fit in. I felt awkward being me.
Throughout my school years, kids made fun of my hand-me-down clothes. They mocked my squinty eyes and pretended to speak Chinese while calling me oriental as if I was rug 😞. Even in college I was teased for being Asian.
The odd girl, that was me. The last one picked for team activities and the first one targeted for jokes and put downs. I was the social misfit on the school bus that had her hair yanked by two Hispanic girls every afternoon. For some odd reason, the bus driver would not let me switch seats 😢.
I dreaded the days when my Vietnamese seat buddy was absent. I’d grit my teeth to hold back tears with every tug of my hair. I couldn’t bear the thought of being laughed at by the other kids on the bus (I’m tearing up just writing about it).
Since that time I have always felt and still feel at odds being me. Even at church, the one place where I should feel included, I often feel out of place. But now, I’m okay feeling like the odd one out.
It’s actually not a bad thing to feel odd being me. Maybe God doesn’t want me to fit in or feel comfortably included in every situation or place. Because I’ve stood out in a not-so-good way and have been excluded, I tend to see those who are forgotten and left out. I notice the outsiders and look for ways to include them.
So, listen my young friends. If you feel like the odd one out in your class, your church group, your circle of friends, or even in your own family, it’s okay. God made you the way you are on purpose. Don’t look for ways to fit in or feel comfortable. God will use those uncomfortable times and places to make you confident. He is toughening you up so you can accept yourself as is. Then, you won’t be afraid to be your real self. And, you will want to help encourage those who feel like they don’t belong.
And you know what? You’ll feel good helping others understand they are accepted and you’ll be encouraged knowing you’re not alone in feeling the way you do. It’s really a win-win for everyone 🤗.
Remember, it’s normal and natural to feel odd being you. God will show you how to be yourself. Just give him time to do it and gradually, you’ll learn to accept and love yourself.