When I was in the 6th grade, I moved from a big town of 36,000 people to a small town of only 9,000 also known as Rockingham. I hated it at first. I missed all of my friends from elementary school and missed my dad more than words could describe. As time went on, I came out of my bubble and began to realize how much I loved living in a small town. It seemed as if everybody knew each other and everybody got along. There was a very southern feel to it so southern hospitality was very present and I loved that. I got to see my Dad every weekend too, so missing him became a feeling I learned to cope with and it became natural.  I soon unintentionally picked up the accent all my friends had and loved it. For three whole years I stayed with my mom, forgetting all about my friends back in elementary school. As I was entering my freshman year, I was very confident and became friends with everyone. No drama, no worries, just a small town girl and all her friends, ruling the school.  My life seemed to be going pretty great.

November 4, 2013, I walked into school. It was a normal day, I saw all of my friends of my freshman class and thought for sure it would just be another day I enjoyed. I was wrong. As I sat down in my fourth block class, my last class of the day, Mrs. Elliott’s classroom phone rang. She told me I was needed in the office, so I went. When I arrived at the office, I was handed the office phone and heard my Dad’s voice on the other end. My phone had died so he wasn’t able to reach me on my cell phone. He proceeded to tell me that I needed to go straight home after school and pack up all of my stuff. He was on the way to get me and would see me soon. At this point, I was very nervous and didn’t know what was going on but I did as I was told and went straight home after school.

As I got off the bus, everything seemed normal, my dad had not arrived yet, as it was a 2 hour drive. I walked into my unlocked house to find my living room in shambles. Everything was messed up. The couch was dismantled, the drawers and cabinets were pulled out and my room was destroyed. All of my covers had been taken off of my bed, my clothes had been taken out of my closet and my dresser drawers had been gone through. I called my Dad crying and he had told me he would explain everything on the ride back home.

Come to find out, the women that had birthed me, the one I had spent 3 years with sharing all of my teenage memories with, turned our house into a drug house. The people she had been surrounding herself with used her and ran over her and flipped her life upside down right in front of her, taking away her potential, life, and kids. And she knows this and lives with this everyday.

I had to start all over. New home, new friends, new town. Everything was so overwhelming and thrown at me all at once. My very first day at Lake Norman High was terrible to say the least. I remember this day so clear. My first block of the school day, I had spanish. We jumped right into a lesson and I was humiliated in front of my whole class. I was asked to pronounce a word on the board and I completely slaughtered it, which led him to call me a redneck because of my accent and the whole class laughed. I was so upset to the point of when everything calmed down, I asked to go to the bathroom and never came back to the class that day. From then on out, I stuck to myself and didn’t speak, none the less look at my teachers in hopes they wouldn’t call on me and me have to reveal my accent. During lunch, I would go to an empty classroom and watch a movie because I had no friends, my first year went by so slow but finally came to an end.

I am not saying that the next 2 years went by the exact same way, because they didn’t. I am not saying that people did not talk to me, because they did. It was the fact that Rockingham was so different from Lake Norman. Everyone dressed differently, people spoke differently. I felt as if people looked down upon me for the way I was brought up, and even the thought of someone finding out about my mother made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t bare the thought of someone associating me with the decisions my mother decided to make because that is not who I am and I will never be that person. I am now a senior at Lake Norman and I feel like i have completely lost my routes from my small town, southern upbringing. I no longer have my accent and I dress differently than I would if I still lived In Rockingham. It makes me sad that I have changed because I am scared of what people will say and think of me because no one should ever feel the need to change who they are. Even as a senior, I have a hard time fitting in and making long term friends. I sometimes cry to my dad and ask why I can’t keep a friend or make friends that I can hang out with outside of school. I constantly ask him what I’m doing wrong and what I can change to make myself more into what people look for in a friend. Each time, I sob on my bed with him sitting beside me, he never fails to make me feel better about myself. I feel it is his personal goal to make sure I am content before he walks out of my bedroom door. My Dad is the type of man to always put his children before him. If I am upset, whether it be about friends or self image, which is most of the time is, he always make me feel valuable as a young girl and as a person. He plays both the mother and the father role, and he does a great job at it. I may have down days sometimes but as I am getting older, I am realizing the valuable lessons he has taught me and continues to teach me everyday, such as to never look down on myself or lower my standards for anybody, friends, nor boys.

If I could give any advice to parents about your children having a hard time in school, whether it be about not making or keeping friends or bad self image, I would just say, be there. When she is crying because “no one likes her”, brush her hair out of her face and tell her that that is not true and that she has family and a God that loves her more than anything. Never brush something under the rug as little as it might seem. Don’t tell them “high school is the easiest time of your life” because we don’t want to hear that. We don’t want to hear “life is just going to get harder from here”. We want to be told we are loved and that we are more valuable than any clothes we’re wearing or accent we have. I am very lucky to have the dad that I have because some people don’t have that moral support and reassurance that everything is going to get better. More parents need to sit down with their kids and ask how their day at school was and how well they are making friends, not to be nosey, just because they genuinely care and I feel if more parents did, children would come to school more confident knowing how beautiful and valuable they actually are.

-Faith