Fitting In

I have only been on this earth for 17 years, and as a result I haven't really had the chance to meet very many people. So far, I've only really made friends from school or from dance class. Every academic or dance school I've been to have been very different from each other, but as a Puerto Rican-Japanese American kid, I have yet to meet a group where I feel like I really fit in.

As for my dance schools, I've been to two schools that were created to provide opportunities for minority students, which is amazing! However, though I am a minority student, I still didn't feel like I fit in with those crowds. My first dance school focused on Black excellence, and since I am not Black, I of course didn't feel like I fit in there. My second dance school focused on Hispanic excellence, but when I went there, I never felt Hispanic enough because I'm only half.

Then for my academic schooling, I started out in a mostly white elementary school in Upper West Side, Manhattan. I have always been very proud of my heritage, so I was always excited to share my culture with all of my white friends. For example, every Girls' Day I would wear a kimono to school. However, I obviously didn't fit in with them at all culturally. They were nice people, but whenever they bonded over having ancestry from the same country in Europe, I could never relate. As a non-white person, I felt very left out of the conversations where these kids would bond over their whiteness.

Then I started middle school. I was told that the principal in this school found diversity very important, but when I got there all I found was another mostly white school in Upper West Side, Manhattan. I counted one time, and there was literally a grand total of 5 Asian American people in my grade. Not so diverse. First, I made friends with a couple of other Latina girls, and since I had never made friends with people who were the same ethnicity as me, I was really excited. However, I soon found that I couldn't really relate to them at all. They would tell each other jokes in Spanish which I couldn't understand since I don't speak Spanish. Also, like I said in my previous post, I couldn't really bond over our culture with them because since I am part of two very different cultures, I haven't learned as much about one or the other. Later on in middle school, I entered into another friend group, one that was, again, all white. In middle school I was a bit more self conscious about sharing my culture, so I felt even more left out, especially during my friends' white bonding moments.

Then I got to high school. I have to say, my high school is actually pretty diverse, so I can't complain about not being able to find friends that are same ethnicity as me. There is especially a lot of Asian American people, which I found really cool. However, there was that culture issue again where I couldn't ever relate to my friends who talked a lot about their culture. Even though I'm Latina and Asian American, I don't ever feel like I fit in exactly with the Latine kids, nor do I really fit in with the Asian American kids. And when those kids try to include me in those conversations about culture, I always feel so bad that I have very limited things to say to relate to them culturally. It makes me feel like I am less of each of my cultures, and I worry that it makes others think that I am also less. I have yet to find the people that I can actually relate to and really feel comfortable talking about my culture with.