I grew up in a little town called Quail in Texas. You might not have heard of the place, and I could not blame you. You could put the entire town in several blocks in the city, but we felt like it was too big for us because it only had a population of more or less 30 people by the time I was born.
Although there were several kids in town, there was no school that you could find. My parents had to apply to get me homeschooled, not to travel every day to another town to get a proper education. They also had to take turns as my teacher, which was not easy because they were busy.
Why did we not move to a town with a school, you might ask? The reason was that Quail had a lot of open lands. My parents always wanted to own a farm, and it was cheaper to do that there than anywhere else. So, even if it was challenging for them to raise a child in a secluded location, they pushed through it.
Our family would still get some breaks from the quiet life in Quail. That typically happened during the yuletide season when we would visit my grandparents in California. We would go to Disneyland, get In-and-Out burgers every day, and do every single thing that we could not do in our little town.
When My Insecurities Began To Creep Up
I had not always been bothered by the fact that I lived in a place many people might not know of. We had a car, electricity, satellite internet, and everything else we could have asked for, so I thought that was not a big deal. However, I began to feel insecure about people knowing where I came from when I was on holiday at 15 years old.
I could still remember when my grandparents took me to a trampoline park near their home. Since I was a very active kid, they thought that I would enjoy the place. I genuinely did until I thought of talking to a group of teenage girls around my age.
In the middle of my introduction to those girls, one of them lifted a hand to stop me. In a very snobbish way, she asked, “What kind of accent is that? Did you live in the mountains?” The girls left while laughing, and I was bolted to the ground, unsure of what to do.
Well, I had always known that I had a thick Texan accent. Everyone in my family found it endearing and said that it gave me character. But hearing others laugh because of it made me want to get rid of my accent.
Preparations For Reinventing Myself
When I got my high school diploma, I decided to go to a university in California. It was not easy for my parents to let go of me, but they knew that my life was out there. My mother even offered to help me pack my stuff, but I told her that I still wanted my room to feel the same way whenever I came back for semestral breaks.
I did not tell my mother that I did not want to bring my things because I wanted to reinvent myself. Since I had a lot of free time as a homeschooled kid, I spent most of that watching TV shows and practically imitating how the actors talked. I sometimes surprised myself because it sounded like another person was talking instead of me.
Before the semester started, I had already decided how to introduce myself to people. I would go along the lines of, “Hey, I’m Anna! I live here in Los Angeles, but I have always been homeschooled.” I also changed the way I dressed subtly to keep my family from noticing it. For instance, I began to wear more colorful clothes and got rid of my plaid shirts.
I genuinely believed that hiding my identity would be THAT easy. I had three years to prepare for it; I was more than willing to lie to people about my hometown. Then, I went to college and did that, and my efforts paid off for quite some time since I managed to mingle with the “it” people.
But I made a fatal mistake: I invited my new friends to my grandparents’ home. We did not do anything wild, but they found out that I hid my original accent when my friends were around. That caused them to tell my parents about it, and they staged an intervention for me – with a therapist in tow.
In reality, I had no idea that my mindset was not usual. I thought everyone did everything to feel a sense of belonging somewhere. However, the therapist clarified that I shouldn’t have had to change to be likable for others. “That’s how life goes. Not everyone may not like who you are, but it does not mean that you should listen to them. If you do, you may lose yourself.”
What Did I Do?
I returned to my true self, of course. I lost some of my newfound friends along the way, but I eventually found people who liked me for me. I never had an issue with hiding my identity again.