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We Struggled To Fit In

When all we ever wanted was to belong.
PHOTO Summit Entertainment

When was the last time you had to compromise yourself in order to be accepted?

There isn't much happening back in grade school, when being the popular kid was still relatively synonymous to being academically excellent. You spent half of your afternoons locked out of the playtime world with textbooks as your companions, and it was okay.

It was okay until the smart kid popularity reached its expiration date. Your classmates slowly began to tease you for being the teacher's pet. You are the book freak. The nerd. The uncool.

You started to not fit in.

You transferred schools. You stopped talking to people who were not supposed to matter (at least that's what you were told). You tried to make new friends in the hopes of starting again, but the desire to fit in did not stop.

When you were thirteen, fitting in meant hanging out with girls who wore the same headbands and talked about their first boyfriends. The fear of being out of place crept in. You started wearing pink tops and miniskirts because girls were expected to look and act like other girls. You watched make-up tutorials on YouTube so you could practice putting on eyeliner. You tried to fit in and for quite some time, you did.

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You did until you were expected to behave like an adult. Until you were expected to look after yourself. Until you were expected to be independent. Until you were expected to do this and that and whatnot.

And the fitting in system goes on and on and on.

You see, people in general don't like the feeling of being alone. To take comfort in knowing that we are accepted all the time is human nature. This is why we struggle to fit in.

But in the end, remember that fitting in is not the same as belonging.

Because fitting in meant constantly changing who you are in order to squeeze yourself in society's small space of acceptance. Constantly fitting in will prevent you from creating our own identity. Fitting in is just tiring, and fitting in will not guarantee you a lifetime spot in the friendship circle.

Belonging starts with embracing who you are. Believing that you're enough is what will truly motivate you to become who you really are—free of prejudice, of guilt. Belonging allows you to grow as an individual. When you belong, you can celebrate your individuality no matter which crowd you associate yourself with. Lastly, you create belongingness for yourself.

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I hope you find happiness not in having to fit in, but in belonging.

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About the author
Jikka Defino
Candymag.com Correspondent
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A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here

"Today, I Won"

I always caught feelings for someone, and hoped so much that one day there could a thing between the two of us. I'm usually the one that makes the effort to buy and/or make cute gifts, chats them every other day, and stays up all night with him.

When I was 16, my childhood crush suddenly came back into my life. We'd constantly send updates to each other, recommend favorite songs and talk even the most random things. He'd even text me as early as 6 to just greet me good morning almost everyday. I hoped so much that when I confessed, he suddenly stopped talking to me.

For short, he ghosted me. Those 6 months I spent talking to him, allotting my time for him, and staying up until 3 am for him - all gone in a simple confession. Although I had a few crushes before him, he's the only one that got me in real pain. It was the kind of pain that I never thought I'd experience. It was the kind of pain that I couldn't believe.

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After 7 years (it happened back in 2017), I thought he came back into my life to stay, but I guess he's just one of the guys who distanced. I felt a complete loser that time. But during this quarantine, everything was different. I caught feelings for someone else, but he treated me with the best kindness yet.

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It happened at 2 am, May 30, 2020, when I impulsively confessed my feelings through messaging him. After saying my feelings, he responded with genuine and kind words. We both even complimented each other. Although the feelings didn't reciprocate, I still found a connection that can't be replaced with any guy.

To my 16 year old self, here I am, 18 and happy. You may have felt that time was the biggest regret and loss, but I'm here to tell you, we won. Today, I won.

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Why our high school barkada is the best?

Remembering our high school years entails quite a lot reminiscing of the things we all been through when we were younger. You’ve experience a lot of new things during those 4 wonderful years and did most of them with the few people you consider your barkada. And through a series of all the lunch breaks you had together, the walks you took on the way home, and taking the same classes, you never thought you’d survive, you have made your life’s greatest friends.

Here are some of the reasons why your high school barkada is the best:

1. You figured out early teenage life together. The transition one have undergone from being a kid to a teenager wasn’t easy. For a moment you are not sure whether you should have played with your friends during recess or you should have just sat down and ate your food because you were too old for games. But whatever it is you chose to do, having friends who were as clueless as you make everything feel easier because you know, deep down, you’d figure things out eventually. You just need good company.

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2. They were with you during your “jeje“ days. I bet you have pictures taken with Camera360 and Retrica. You also have pictures edited using Pizap with embarrassing captions and you somehow kept some of them so you could have something to post online during their birthdays.

3. They know all your exes. They will never EVER forget the name of an ex-boyfriend, an ex-fling, an ex-crush, and an almost you had. They will remind you of your every questionable love decision but you’ll just laugh anyway while saying “Past is past”.

4. They never judge you. They have welcomed you to their lives when you thought jelly shoes and checkered polos were the bomb! They were quick to have told your teachers that you were not feeling well so you could go home when you really just needed to poop. You tell them every embarrassing story you have and were fine with it.

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5. You can always count on them. From the moment you first fell in love and the moment you first had your heart broken, they were with you. They were with you the moment you lost a parent and at moments when you thought you had nothing. Through every break-up and breakthrough, they were there to be your support system.

6. They are your family. Your high school friend’s family is your own family’s extension. Their parents are like your own. Don’t you feel a little kilig whenever your friend’s parents call you “anak”? And then eventually calling them mama and papa became so natural? I felt that, all the time.

7. They will always be your home. They are your place of refuge and security, the place who offers you their hands when you feel lost and the place you run to when you need saving. No matter how much time and distance separate you, they will be the one’s that you always long for and they are the one’s that you will always return to.

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