Who I Wanted to Be to Who I Am


I was shy as a child. Only spoke when spoken to, never branched out from my two best friends, and would hide behind my parents’ tall frames when someone acknowledged me. The people I knew were comfortable and a safe place. Strangers were far away from me and I felt like I could never reach them. There’s one thing all these strangers and close friends have in common: they taught me how to live life. 

I believe everything has a reason whether I like it or not. There was a reason my parents escaped Laos and came to California. There was a reason we moved from their first home they worked for down to North TexasThe only culture I knew was what my parents knew, and all they knew was Californian and Lao culture. We moved to neighborhood with a large Lao community. I was so excited to go to school and meet new friends that only knew what I knew.  

Turns out that was the neighboring neighborhood. Instead, I was with people who looked nothing like me. They thought my eyes and lunch were strange and would pull on my prayer bracelet saying, “Why do you have yarn on your wrist? I would simply reply, “Oh, I don’t know,” and walk away with embarrassment. Of course I knew, but I hated that I did. My mom would replace them and I’d cut them right off. I was so ashamed of my culture. Why can’t I be normal like them?  

Despite the ones that looked at me bezerkI met people who saw me as just Stephanieand that’s when I started to learn. had to learn what a crush was, what rockpaperscissors is, the fact that people said “shoot” after rockpaper-scissors, and most importantly what friends could do for you. I couldn’t make a lot of friends because of how shy I was, but when I did I’d consider them my best friend of all time. I learned jealousy, as my two friends hated each other because I called them both my best friends of all time.  

“Why can’t we all be friends?” I would cry.  

“No,” best friend of all time number 1 said. “Why do you have to be friends with her when I treat you better?” 

I didn’t know what better was or why she was so mad, but I tried to deal with it because we were supposed to be friends. One day she gave me an ultimatum that broke my heart: her or the other friend. I chose the other friend. It was back to square one, but this time I had Kaylee around. She stuck with me through everything and introduced me to other friends too.  

Her parents were from California as well, so now I can learn more things. I learned you don’t just bite string cheese (I still do anyway) and how to properly say the word “ugly.” The little things taught me more on how to live this life, but as I write this I realize I’ve always done things my own way. My whole life I thought I was following in Kaylee’s footsteps because I didn’t know whose to follow, but I’ve always learned things on my own & she guided me to what it’s supposed to be.  

For most of my childhood I wanted to be whatever I could to be accepted, but that isn’t the case. I was chasing someone I didn’t want to beand it wasn’t until sophomore year I decided to let all of that go into the person I’m blossoming to.