Being the first generation in America it was difficult for me to fit in, I tried by observing others. I was very worried about being the odd one out as a child. Growing up watching the Brady Bunch and My Three Sons, I had certain expectations of what it was to be an American. I remember being in Kindergarten and having an old german lady as a teacher who was not very nice. I don't ever remember her being kind or thoughtful. I did not speak any English when I started Kindergarten in Chicago, but after a few weeks I was fine. But I will never forget feeling like I needed to learn to be like the others. Maybe then the teacher would like me.
Funny thing is, Chicago in the 70's was a huge melting pot in itself and we had so many diverse ethnicities that it was hard to define what an American was. We all were either Italian/American, Polish, Arabian, Mexican, etc. And most all of us were first generation, we all spoke two languages. But I remember not wanting to be singled out and I remember a many lonely days on the playground not being able to speak to anyone, just watching.
After 40 something years, I still find myself trying to find my way in this world. And the only thing I want to be and strive for is to be kind. I don't ever want anyone to feel the way I felt in Kindergarten, isolated and afraid.
As of late, I have forgotten that child. My thoughts have not been self-less, or kind.
And what it comes down to, is going back to basics of being surrounded by people who inspire me to be that kinder, better person. I need to remember about the first kid who left their comfort zone to speak and play with me in that playground back in Chicago. That is what I need to remember. What I need to think of when I think cynical thoughts. I want to be that kind, giving, self-less person. Somehow she got lost under that concrete turtle in the playground.
At times, I hold my friends closer then my family. And as I reflect upon those "wonder years" I understand the why. I found acceptance.