Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, I was a constant outlier in a series of homogenous communities. The following labels defined me and made me a target for frequent peer abuse:
- I was black (or not “black enough, depending on who you ask)
- I was sort of tall for my age most of my life
- I’ve worn glasses since the age of four (a result of being a preemie)
- I am a proud sesquipedalian
- I had a tracheotomy, which resulted in a visible scar and a unique speaking voice
- I developed much earlier than my classmates as a side-effect of the many prescription medications I’ve taken since birth
- I was overweight once I reached the dreaded “p” word – puberty!
- My parents were very protective. I resist the term over protective, because most of the time, their judgement was sound. But it didn’t make me very popular with the other kids.
- There are always countless arbitrary reasons young people are bullied…
As a result of years of “bullying,” I still battle Social Anxiety Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Panic Attack Syndrome. As difficult as this journey has been, the combination of constant prayer, supportive parents, a few dedicated teachers, and competent mental health professionals have brought me to a place where I am able to see the brightest of light and the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Part of my life’s goal is to spread awareness about peer abuse and mental wellness, particularly in the African-American community.