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My Experience With Racism

by Luke_

 

I was born in the coastal city of San Diego, Ca to a young Mexican immigrant couple. My parents, like many of ours, came to America for a better life for themselves and their children. I grew up surrounded by a loving family and a group of people who supported me unconditionally.

But my life’s journey was not as picture perfect as it sounds. Ugly acts of racism and bullying throughout my childhood caused a number of insecurities that I still battle with today. This is my story....

My first experience with racism was in kindergarten. The school I attended was in a predominately white neighborhood, and I was the only Hispanic in the classroom. Many of the children did not want to play with me or even speak to me. I was even neglected by my teacher. On the first day of class I sat next to a cute little boy with blonde curly hair––I remember him vividly. The moment I sat next to him he stood up and left to the other side of the room, scowling at me all the while. I knew it was because I was different from the other students.

I did not expect to experience racism at such a young age, since children are so innocent. But children are influenced by what they see and learn at home, and I believe the children in my school were imitating their parents’ behavior.

Feeling different and left out, I spent a lot of elementary school playing by myself, running around the school’s field hoping that one day someone would notice and accept me, but that day never came. I became shy and quiet, excluding myself before others could reject me. I found comfort in food. It lifted my spirits, but without self-control I quickly gained weight. By the time I entered high school I was the heaviest weight I’ve ever been, and I found myself more depressed than ever.

High school was not much different. I continued to experience racism, but this time it was coming from my own people, a group of rich Mexicans  enjoyed making fun of me because my skin was darker than theirs. They would call me Montezuma, who was once a great Aztec emperor, to point out that I looked different than them. At the time, I was only aware of the hatred behind their words, I did not pay much attention of what the words actually meant. Looking back now, I feel only pride in the name that was meant to ridicule me: Montezuma, a once great Aztec emperor and warrior. Now I wear it like a shield.

After high school, I decided I was going to change my life for the better. I began exercising and making healthy choices, and I lost some of the weight I had gained from emotional eating. I finished college and started advancing in my career.

Today I’m teaching English in Shanghai, China, and I’ve never felt more beautiful and happy. I am more aware than ever of the need to embrace the differences we all possess and celebrate our uniquenesses. Had those who teased me and ignored me because of the color of my skin instead accepted and treated me with respect, perhaps I would not struggle with the insecurities and doubts that linger inside of me today. And though I still do battle with these things, I’m constantly being reminded of the beauty in life. I see it in everyone I meet, in every new place I go, and in everything I learn.

#GivingTuesday

by Luke_

 

Click here to donate today

 

Share Your Story

by Luke_

 

Why Should I Share My Story on ReachOut.com?

Great question. Your peers come to ReachOut.com to get the facts on a wide range of mental health topics and read real stories from others who have navigated the difficulties of life. Sharing the story of how you got through or are getting through a tough time can really help and inspire your peers to take the steps or seek the help they need. There are so many different ways to cope with mental health challenges, and we can never have enough unique points-of-view––aka we'd love to have your story on our site! Because no one says it like you. 

Check out the awesome stories are our site here

How Do I Get Started?

It's simple. Write your story out and send it to michael@rousa.org so we can get you published! Try to keep your story between 300-600 words.

Here are a few more guidelines that most of our stories on the site follow. These may help you think about the best way to organize your story.

1. Introduce yourself and your story (intro)

Instructions: No last names or anything private, just a little bit of info so readers can see if they have anything in common with you––remember, Reachout is for 14-24 year-olds and we concentrate on peer support.

2. What is/was your tough time? (adversity)

Instructions: You will want to let those who will be reading your story understand what the difficulty was that you worked through, but go easy on the drama.

3. How did you get through it? (story perseverance)

Instructions: What got you through the tough time? Were there things you did or didn’t do? What’s the one message you would like to leave with the person who listens to your story?

4. How might you sum up? (conclusion)

Instructions: Maybe just a sentence or two that lets the reader know that you made it (or are making it) and feel confident he or she can too, or communicate in some other way a sense of hope.

Remember to keep your story between 300-600 words and send it to michael@rousa.org

ReachOut 2 Me: The Holiday Spirit of Support

by Luke_

'Tis the season of hope and help - remembering how thankful we are for the good things in our lives, and maybe being a little kinder to those who need our support.

As part of the ReachOut2Me campaign, Nov 24th - Dec 8th, our volunteers have shared their stories of thanks for giving and receiving help - and how empowering that can be. Here's how our Youth Ambassador Alex responded the first time he was reached out to by someone who cared:

 

I broke down, exhausted from ‘secretly’ fighting my illness for so long. My mom flew up to visit me, and from that moment on I began fighting, effectively, with the support of my family and friends. Everybody I approached and sought help from was not only understanding, but most were able to empathize, not only making my recovery easier but also strengthening my bonds with those people.

No one knows more how tough it is to say this - we could really use your help this year.

Here are 2 easy ways to get involved:

1. Help spread the word by following us on social media and sharing our RO2ME campaign

2. Donate to ReachOut now and help us reach more youth than ever

ReachOut.com is built on the premise that we all go through tough times, and those times can seem even darker for teens and young adults struggling with mental health issues. 1 in 5 US teens suffers from a serious mental health condition, and half of them don't get the help they need. In the past year, ReachOut.com has seen over 2 Million US visits, that's a 100% increase from the year before.

We know teens and young adults need the info and support we're offering - and your donation will continue this effort.

We hope this time of year is filled with family, friends, laughter, joy, love and gratitude. We are so grateful for your support over the past year and beyond!

ReachOut Forums Suspension

by Luke_

It’s with a really heavy heart that we announce that the ReachOut forums will be suspending operations on December 31, 2015.

You might be thinking, “what does that mean?”

The forums and all of the conversations will still be visible online – you can read through anything you’ve posted and see all of the responses. But starting in January, you will not be able to create any new posts.

We’ve been honored to be a part of the lives of our 20,000 forum members, in helping them get through tough times, supporting them when they were low, and cheering on their successes.

So, why is this happening?

We had a grant end earlier this year, and we have not yet been able to secure a new one to support the costs of the forums. We are working on getting new funding, and we hope that we can re-open them in the near future. Until then, you can still read through all of the forum posts, and check out the fact sheets, stories, videos and more on ReachOut.com.

If you want to learn more or talk about this loss, check out the fact sheet or talk in the forums now, we're still open!

You can also find support from these great sites:

Your Life Your Voice (http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org)

Ok2Talk (http://ok2talk.org/)

Trevorspace (https://www.trevorspace.org/)

ReachOut Australia Forums (https://forums.au.reachout.com/)

Thank you for making the forums such a special place!!!

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