The clock struck three, and I was immediately out of my seat. Eleven years old, fresh out of Australia and severely disappointed; that was me on my first day of school in California. I had never expected it to differ so entirely. I knew there would be distinctions, but not so many.
Girls sat with their legs crossed at the knee, their shiny shoes reflecting the fluorescent ceiling lights. With fresh manicures and pearlescent smiles, it was hard for me to believe these students were only eleven. There I was, with my new sneakers I had been so proud of, my hair slung back in a messy pony tail. Every time I tried to speak I was suffocated with exclamations of "OMG I love your accent!" and "you sound so funny!" Before long, I just gave up trying to communicate with them entirely. I didn't have the accent, they did. I needed to find a friend, someone to spend time with and who would help me fit in better. I just wanted to blend into the class; be like the rest of the girls. I hated standing out.
The second day of school, I tried to keep positive. It was a small school and I had already met everyone, but maybe I could find someone who had similarities with me; the friend I could cling to, while I tried to camouflage myself. That friend came in the form of the weirdest girl I have ever met.
I don't know why I didn't notice her during the first day of school. She was obviously the class outcast, yet her personality mirrored mine perfectly. Same humour, same hobbies, same demeanor. When I met her, my focus began to shift. If this odd girl was so content with being herself, why shouldn't I be? We became good friends instantly.
Even now, five years later, we are still best friends and haven't changed. Because of her, I'm still the same person I always was. I learnt that it doesn't matter how different you think you are, you should never change yourself just to fit in. By being yourself, you will always find other people who appreciate you for who you are, not for who you are pretending to be.
With a Perspective, I'm Mandy Kershaw.