It's a constant reminder of my insecurity with fitting in. Growing up, I felt I never fit in. I was born an outsider: half mexican, half filipino. Finding people who look like you, even on the most basic, superficial level, is the first way children learn to interact with others--the first way children learn the social subtleties of groups.
It's built into us, to gravitate towards other living beings. More so, to find comfort in those like ourselves. Newsweek did a cover captioned, "Is your Baby Racist?" In the main article they discussed a psychological study of a classroom of children. On the first day of school they assigned each child a shirt with one of two colors on it. They gave no explanation, no instructions. They did not tell them to form groups, or to make teams. In the following days, the study found that although the children did not segregate by color, when approached and asked about attributes of children who wore the same color t-shirts, they would respond positively. The blue children would speak of other blue children as "smarter" or "faster" or "better". But when speaking of the opposite color, they would be more ambivalent or indifferent, "He's ok", "He's nice."
Growing up, I had always hated my body. I felt fat and ugly, out of shape and disproportionate, awkward and uncomfortable. The whole world knew, through the language my body betrayed, that I did not fit in. I thought that my body was more a burden than anything; at age twelve I had decided I would prefer to live as a brain in a jar. I'd get all my nutrients from the slime that surrounded me, and I would never have to move or take showers or do anything. I could sit in my jar all day long, dream up worlds, imagine living life, and at last be happy. (I got my idea from the Teenage Turtles show. I preferred not to call them mutants, you see, I was very sensitive of their feelings of being different. Their arch-nemesis was a brain named Krang. If he were not evil, he would have been my hero.)
But when I became Christian, my worldview transformed. I realized that we are each embodied, so to speak, in bodies. God intentionally chose to intertwine the destiny of our souls with that of our bodies, to have us live our lives in the physical. He has created each of us out of love--and each beautiful body we live in for a purpose. He not only dictated the number of hairs upon our heads, he chose their length, color, and shape. This body I live in is a gift from God--the temple of the Living God--and it is not without reason that mine is unlike the bodies of those surrounding me.
Being a fifth year is a constant reminder that I do not belong. But I count this as a blessing. This feeling, of being a sojourner in a foreign land, is not unlike the feeling Abraham had when he went out from his former place to live in a land of promise. This feeling is my constant reminder of God's promise: I have a home, and it is not here. I have something to look forward to, something to hope for. And I know that He will deliver me, no matter what loneliness I may experience, no matter how alien I may feel.