If you are currently a teenager or young adult, whether you want to admit it or not, you know you grew up watching Disney, Nickelodeon, and even Teen Nick. Teens from all over the world, male and female, grew up mesmerized by the tunes of catchy pop songs from an array of shows produced by Disney. Though these shows and songs may not be on the top charts anymore, you know you still have every word memorized forwards and backwards. I know I definitely do, and I’m not ashamed of it, or the fact that half of these are on my Spotify.
You are blessed and you are loved by many. So please ignore those negative thoughts that tell you otherwise.
You’re a friendly person, a social butterfly, making friends wherever you are, wherever you go. You touch many hearts with your fun personality and caring demeanor.
Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator
However, I understand because there are days when you feel like there is no one to hang out with. All your friends are busy hanging out with someone else or you check your social media and see that all your friends are in their respective groups hanging out and having fun. You question why it’s hard for you to belong anywhere.
But I just want to let you know that you’re important. You’re not overlooked. You’re not forgotten. You are truly loved despite what your inner thoughts are saying in your head. You may not belong to a certain group of friends. But the fact that you are welcomed to so many groups says so much about your personality.
The fact that you have so many friends means that you have many whom you can rely on and who can rely on you.
You’re not the only person who feels this way. In fact, I know this feeling of loneliness. I also feel self-doubt in my ability to have friends and keep them. I, too, question why I can’t have one group of friends that I can constantly rely on.
But I realize now that it’s silly for me and you to feel this way. It’s not about belonging. It’s about doing. It’s about being there for others even if they aren’t there for you. It’s about giving love as much as your heart can allow. It’s not about being special, but making others feel special.
Stop looking for a place to belong. You’re not the type of person that belongs to one group. You’re meant to bring happiness to so many more. Cheers to you who doesn’t belong in one place. You’re a friend that everyone loves, and that should be more than enough to make you realize that you belong in a special place in their hearts.
Two days before I moved from New Jersey to California, I had a late night at a friend's house. Just a few miles outside of my small town of Morris Plains, his house was out of the way and a safe haven for myself and my mother during a harrowing and strenuous move. My father had been across the country already for almost two months trying to hold down his new job and prove himself. His absence was trying on me (at the tender young age of nine years old) and my mother, and we often spent time at my friend's home, as our mothers got along well.
That night came the time to say goodbye for the very last time, and as our mothers were tearfully embracing at the door, he ran up to me and shoved a book in my hands. Bewildered and confused, I tried to give him my thanks but he was already gone - running away in a childish fit that expressed his hurt at my leaving more than any words he could've said. I looked down at the book in my hands. It was a battered copy of Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief," with its binding bulging slightly out in a strange fashion, the cover slightly torn and bent, and quite a few pages dog-eared. The book wasn't in good condition, but I took the time to read it. I was ensnared and enchanted by the lurid descriptions of mythology, of the lovable characters of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover, and the upside-down world they lived in. Over the course of the move and our eventual settling into our new California home, I devoured the series adamantly, reading "The Battle of the Labyrinth" almost five times in the fifth grade and eventually finishing out with "The Last Olympian." The series accompanied me through a difficult move and a whirlwhind of early puberty; by that time, Percy and friends I knew intimately as my own companions. When the series ended, I happily parted with it, and began other literary conquests (namely in the realm of classics).
After an almost year-long break, I re-discovered the series in sixth grade. I hadn't realized that there was a companion series to the first, in fact, a continuation - The Heroes of Olympus. I lapped up "The Lost Hero" and "The Son of Neptune" with greed, and eagerly awaited the arrival of "The Mark of Athena" the following year.
One of my most vivid memories of middle school was sneaking downstairs the morning of the Kindle release of "The Mark of Athena", sneaking past my parents' bedroom as stealthily as I could in the wee hours of the morning to get my kindle and immerse myself in the world. I believe I finished it in about two days. For the next two books in the series, I followed the same pattern: get up early, read it as fast as I could get my hands on it. "The Blood of Olympus", the last book in the series, came out in my freshman year of high school. After finishing the second series, I shelved my much-loved paperbacks for good, and turned myself to other literary pursuits. I eventually relocated to Virginia, and went to college. Percy and friends were almost forgotten until my first year at the University of Virginia.
I was devastatingly alone my first semester at university. I didn't know what to do with myself, entombed by my loneliness. However, at the bottom of my suitcase, I found my old Kindle Paperwhite, with both of Percy's series neatly installed for me. I made a resolution with myself: I would reread both series, reading only at mealtimes where I sat alone. By the time I was finished, I wanted to see where I was compared to when I started.
Re-reading the series was like coming home. It was nostalgia, sadness, and ecstasy wrapped into one. I delighted in revisiting Percy's old haunts, his friends, his challenges. However, it was sad, knowing I had grown up and left them behind while they had stayed the same. It was a riveting memory train which made me look forward to meals, and eased my loneliness at school. Gradually, as the semester progressed, I was reading on Percy's tales less and less, as I found my friends, clubs, and organizations that gradually took up more and more time.
I still haven't finished my re-read, and am about halfway through "The Blood of Olympus". I've come a long way in the almost decade since I first received that tattered copy of "The Lightning Thief", and I still have some ways to go. So thanks, Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Jason, Piper, Reyna, Nico, Frank, Hazel, Leo. Thank you for growing up with me. I'll never forget you.