KELLY CHAN ON THE TRIALS OF GROWING UP DIFFERENTLY
GROWING UP is obviously hard for everybody, whether it's growing up somewhere where you stand out or having a personality that doesn't fit in. Wexford is a place where you know every second person that passes, fitting in is a must in this town. As a teenager, there are many cliques that would accept you but there are also many that would judge you.
In my own experience I have found that fitting in in Wexford is hard but if you find people who are there to help you through everything it can be a lot easier. My parents are from Malaysia and they moved here 30 years ago. Wexford is our home. Growing up was hard, being much different than the people around me and standing out so much lowered my self-esteem. Thinking back on my childhood, it was sad that people were so judgmental about seeing someone different, but it has also helped me become the person I am today too.
I can't say I never wondered what it would be like to be in my best friends' shoes or to be someone completely different but now at sixteen, I love my life. The only thing I would change would be not to care so much about what people thought of me. No ones' opinion matters if you're happy. I spoke to two girls who moved to Wexford from far off places and they both felt that even though they're different, the people of Wexford accepted them quickly.
Michaella Itaire Mifsud is 16 and she moved to Ireland 7 years ago from Nigeria. When she first came here, the things that caught her attention were the ways that people dressed and spoke. Even after 7 years, Michaella still has her lovely accent and developed her own style. At first, Michaella felt that because of the colour of her skin it was hard to make friends as she was different. But after living here for over 5 years, she would call Wexford one of the nicest places she has ever lived.
Carina Avtina is also 16 and is from Uzbekistan, which is in Central Asia. She moved here 9 years ago from England so she would have been familiar with the language, but not the accents. Life was different for Carina when she moved to Wexford. She felt the community was smaller and very closely knit, but she made friends quickly and is very thankful that her friends don't judge her on her nationality.
I asked them both for advice which they would give to someone who is growing up different whether it's the colour of your skin or the way you dress. They both felt that the most important thing was to stay yourself. Being someone different doesn't always work out in the end and it could end up hurting your self-esteem. Some people may not be as lucky as Michaella, Carina and I that we all found groups of friends who don't judge us but that mustn't stop people from making new friends because no two people are the same.