A few days ago I came across a page on my “discover” photos on Instagram. It was an old high school classmate of mine. I was curious to see their page and through them discovered basically their entire old clique. The cool kids. You know the ones that ruled the school. Had the BEST time in high school. Back then I would do anything to get into that circle. All of those feelings of awkwardness, shyness and weird butterflies in my stomach came rushing back. Not the ones you feel when you are in love, but the ones that are on the brink of nausea?
Looking over my character from back then, I basically lived a double life. There was the outgoing Olesya, the one who could actually speak out in public, had a sense of humor and a strong group of friends. That was my Russian, Church Olesya. The side of me I loved.
Then there was the Olesya at school. For some reason I was a polar opposite. I mostly hung out with the “diverse” kids. Although I looked more like the regular, American kids. I felt like my cultural barrier made me more of a foreigner. An outlier. I couldn’t say a joke to save my life. Keeping eye contact was a struggle. I still remember the moment when my world separated.
It was fifth grade. I switched schools and moved. Now attended a classic, suburban elementary school. The majority of my classmates were white, middle to upper class American kids. I thought I would blend right in! I tried making friends with the popular girls. The ones that looked more like me. The ones I craved to be around. They were all so pretty and perfect. They played soccer, talked to all the boys and had the PERFECT blonde hair. The neighborhood we moved into was also where all of them lived.
The first few weeks at the new school I made it my mission to befriend them. I would sit with them on the bus, we would get off at the same stop and walk home together. I was even invited to a birthday party! I was over the moon! “That’s it” I thought “I am their friend!”
At the party I thought I was doing great! I tried to be as entertaining and funny as possible. Bringing with me a whole itinerary of pranks and games we could do. I remember thinking to myself throughout the evening “Olesya, they love you! You are such blast!” After one of my pranks the room filled with laughter and I remember being so happy I gave them all a group hug. Then it was my turn to step out of the room for an activity. I closed the door behind me and accidentally over heard the girls ask the birthday girl “Why did you invite her?”… My heart stopped. Then she spoke up, “My mom made me.”
I remember tears filling my eyes. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself. So I left.
The next week at school, I didn’t try to be around them. With every week the distance grew and no one came to grab me back into the circle. I started hanging out with other kids in my grade. They all looked very different from me, but I could connect with them on a whole other level. I felt like we didn’t have to impress one another, we could just be us.
A few months passed and my birthday was right around the corner. As much as the unfortunate event from previous months hurt, I wanted to invite the girls to my party. I gave out my invitations, but one after another said they couldn’t make it. I finally approached my neighbor with the card and asked her to come. As soon as I gave her the card, she asked me if anyone else was going. I named a few of my other friends with a huge grin!
The day of my birthday I was so excited! My friends from church and school started arriving, but I was anxiously waiting for that one guest. It was a few hours into the party when I heard the doorbell ring. It was her! Standing in front of my house with a bag in her hand. I whisked the door open and invited her in. She handed me the bag, wished me a happy birthday and left without coming in.
It was a heart shaped, pink, fuzzy pillow. I bet her mom made her give that to me. No of the less. It was my favorite gift of the evening. ( I know, I was a bit of a dummy).
Looking back on this now, its a bit of a silly story. Over dramatized in my yet developing, little head. But it was a big pivoting moment. The moment where I couldn’t be just one Olesya. The one that divided me and my personality. I know that those girls didn’t know any better. I don’t blame them, I was a bit weird, haha.
I guess I wanted to share this story just to send it out into the universe but also to humanize myself. I was not always as confident as I am now. There are still moments in life where I forget how to speak English, or speak in general. ( A story for another time.)
I am not the same person I once knew. If we’ve met before, I may not be the same person someone once introduced you to. We all constantly change and develop. Because life isn’t always replaying the same tune.
Olesya (still under construction)