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Junior reflects on life-changing summer

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I never felt insecure about myself until I went to summer camp in 2015. Throughout elementary school, everything went smoothly: no one pushed on the playground, no one stole my toys and no one treated differently. All of that changed when I entered cabin 10.

I was 13 years old and my brother was 16 when we attended this summer camp in Marble Falls. It was my first time being away from home, but my mother thought I would be comfortable because my big brother was there. I still remember the deep pit of sadness I had that day as I waved goodbye to my mother from the bus. I faked a smile and acted like I was excited for the trip. Then I sunk back in my seat alone and lifted my head to watch the hazy television screen. There was a lot of chatter behind me, and it seemed as if everybody had a bus buddy except for me.

After a long bus ride we finally arrived at camp. A line of counselors formed the path we drove down. When we parked, we got out of the bus and stood scattered across the grass. We were lead to clusters of luggage that were organized by cabin. I was in cabin five, so I went to the luggage for group 5, pulled out my suitcase and lugged it up a steep hill. I walked in front of my cabin, and a counselor wearing sunglasses and a welcoming smile helped me with my bags. When I walked into the room it was a group of about eight girls were there and I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. They were all sitting in a circle with another counselor. She gestured for me to sit with them, so I sat cross legged in the circle. It seemed like all of them knew each other. I inspected them carefully. Each of them were strikingly beautiful. I noticed they had bracelets on their wrists, flat ironed hair, shaved legs and “keep Austin weird” t-shirts. I felt completely out of place and started to become self conscious for the first time. I looked down at my shirt and noticed the dog wearing sunglasses was a bit childish. My hair was wavy and the length was all the way down to my chin. I looked down at my hands and did not have any nail polish or bracelets because they would always fall off my skinny wrists. I sat there in silence, listening to their conversation about social media and boys. The day turned into night quickly, and the rest of the week passed at the same, rapid pace. Fortunately, I had become friends with the girls in cabin nine. They could make me laugh, and I felt like I could be myself with them.

When it started getting dark, we all headed back to the cabin. All the girls took their shirts off, and danced around in their sports bras. I did not own a sports bra, or any bra at all, so I sat on my bunk and faked a laugh. The meanest girl put her hands on her hip and called me out. “Why do you not have a bra? It is not like you are 10 anymore!,” she shouted at me. I put my hands on my flat chest and shrugged. The next morning was even worse. I had nowhere to go for free time, so I hung out with my counselor for the day.

When we came back I sat on my bunk and a circle of girls surrounded me. Some sat on my bunk and a few rested their arms on top of the bunk above me. One pointed to the picture on the ledge of my bed and asked, “Are those your parents?” I grabbed the photo, looked down at it and nodded.  Another girl chimed in “You don’t look anything like them. They are white and you are Mexican.” It shocked me that someone could be so rude, so I replied, “No, I am not. I am Caucasian and Puerto Rican!” That caught everybody off guard and they started asking more questions. “Did your dad cheat on your mom? How are you both?” I pushed back the tears and explained that I did not feel comfortable telling them about my personal life. But that did not stop them from invading my space. Finally I said to them,  “I am adopted. My birth mother is Caucasian and my birth father is Puerto Rican!”

They patted my back and apologized. I was waiting for an apology but the comment they made was,  “I am sorry your adopted.” After that, I got a little sympathy from them and they asked me to share my adoption story with them. After I did, I expressed my feelings towards how they had treated me and things became more comfortable between us.

After that painful experience, I learned to always be true to yourself and to find people with similar interests. Overall I am glad I worked through my adoption story. Only you know who you are in your heart, so tell your story.

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Junior reflects on life-changing summer