hand trying to push in a puzzle piece that does not fit

The Act of Fitting In

After my mum's death, I had to go and live with my aunty Mabel. Dad enrolled me in a private school called Kay Billie Klear. It was attended by very rich and prominent people, and I was from a poor background, which was a big mismatch. From the first day I arrived at school till the day I bolted, I have never felt like I belonged.

I dreaded going to school

Then came the idea from my doctor and father to wear long sleeves and trousers to school as a way to protect me from the weather. I was getting sick too often. This not only made matters worse for me but made me hate going to school. I remember waking up every day and wishing I was dead, so I could avoid going to school. No one was going to talk to me anyway, so I would ask myself what was the point?

I was blamed for anything that went wrong

When I had my first crisis in school, everyone acted like they cared. That was the only time I felt love in the school. They were human, after all.

But then things took another turn when our maths teacher told the class I had sickle cell. Since then, any bad thing that happened in class was associated with me. Like when the class smelled bad, or something went missing, I was always the suspect.

All I wanted was to fit in and have friends

I couldn’t tell my dad what I was going through, so I intentionally started failing my exams. He would yell and complain when I brought my report and say I was wasting his money. The school only took payments in dollars, and it was a lot of money. I tried to convince my dad to take me to a government school, but to no avail. I wanted to fit in and have friends so bad. Staying in Kay Billie Klear only made me suffocate. To be honest, I was happy when I got sick, so I didn’t have to go and face all that stress.

Dealing with my loneliness

I tried to fit in so badly that I started to tell lies about where I came from. I would lie that my dad was touring the world and that I was a princess, not that it made a difference in the treatment I was getting, but it gave me a little sense of belonging and that made it easier for me to cope.

After a while, it became exhausting for me, so I accepted the fact that I would never belong and dealt with my loneliness. Soon, I started to enjoy being the odd one. I would even wear unprescribed attire to school, and amazingly, no one questioned me.

One time, we were going on an excursion to learn more about erosion, they specifically told us not to wear the school t-shirt, but that is what I wore. I was hoping it would disqualify me from going because, for some reason, I didn’t want to go. But it didn’t. I was the odd one, and it felt good. After a while, I began to enjoy my own company.

Fitting in is not the most important thing in life

People living with sickle cell go through the feeling of not being wanted all the time. The stigma is real, and all we want is to be accepted as we are. Just like I didn’t choose the family or home I came from, we didn’t choose to have the disease.

Dear warrior, you may have felt out of place at one time or another in your life. Know that it is not your fault but the ignorance of others. You are worth everything, and you are more than just a mere human being. You deserve love, care, and attention, and if people can’t see that, it’s on them and not you.

You did not choose to be sickled on your own, and that is a fact. Fitting in is not the most important thing in life. You are too special and unique to fit into just a group or society. Own your uniqueness and be free from all the prejudices around you. You are amazing.

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