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By: Anoushka Batra ’19

Identity. As long as I can remember, I have struggled with who I was. From the age of six when I moved to the United States from India,  I was taught that white is the standard of beauty. I received the message ¨the lighter you are the more beautiful you appear in the eyes of others.¨ These words have stuck with me for ten years.

I have been surrounded by people with light, pale skin and golden hair for years. For a long time, I wanted to be just like them. I learned to hate the way I looked. I hated my long curly black hair, so I would straighten it every day just so I could feel like I looked a little more like the girls with the straight blond hair and blue eyes.

I tried my best to dress like the other kids wearing brands like Abercrombie and Aeropostale so maybe they would overlook my caramel skin tone. I felt so embarrassed on the very first day of every new school year when the teacher did roll call and they would call names like Britney and Sarah,  only to be followed by something sounding ridiculous like Anoushka. How ugly, I used to think to myself. It just seemed like a bunch of letters placed right next to each other.

       Looking back, I realize how hard I tried to fit in and to be accepted. I have learned that people won’t always like you.  We all just want to be accepted, to feel like we belong, to feel liked/loved, to feel like we’re enough. We want human approval. We want to know that we’re good enough and that we belong. Well, that’s not how the real world works.  People won’t always welcome you.  

         You can either accept it or you can fight it. They may not like you  because of your hair color, your eye color, your skin color or because of the way you speak, or because of the way you eat. The things you like they might  hate or they might not like you because you’re you.

       As brutal as that sounds and as terrifying as it seems,I promise you that you’re okay;  your heart is beating, you’re alive and you’ll survive. Everything will be alright. We care so much, more than we’re supposed to– than we need to. I mean, why wouldn’t we? It’s human nature; it’s just what we do. We look for happiness in other people, not in ourselves. We look for other people’s approval so that we know that we’re good enough, so that we know that we’re making someone happy– meaning we’re doing something right.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t care about what people have to say about me; of course I care. I know I’m sitting here writing this and hoping you like this because I care. I care, you care, the people around you care, but why?

    Why do we care so much that we don´t look like that person everyone crushes on.  We care because we’re humans–because we seek approval. Me, you, and the girl everyone’s obsessed with. All of us. We’re not perfect. If anything, we’re far from it.  We’re just a bunch of people who want to know that we’re appreciated, a bunch of people who want to go to sleep every night knowing that we’re liked whether it’s by the your best friend’s mother or the teacher that teaches your favorite subject.  

     As much as we all want to feel like we’re accepted, you won’t. Not today, not tomorrow, not in a couple of weeks, maybe not even a year from now and the best thing about this is that it’s absolutely okay. You’re not liked, so what? So what if your teacher doesn’t like you or your crush doesn’t like you or your boss doesn’t like you? So what?  You’re not alone. We often ignore this. It seems like you against the world, but it’s, not–it really doesn’t have to be. Believe it or not we’re all the same; we want the same things. We want to be loved, cared about, accepted and happy. We want to matter. And you do.