Anjali in high school.

It was 12th grade and I was sitting three rows from the stage. During our valedictorian’s speech I just could not focus because she was so damn boring. I zoned out and started reflecting on the last four years of my journey through high school.

9th grade I woke up and my mom was telling me how she went to the temple yesterday to do Pooja for a good first day. We were not wealthy and had just enough money to make ends meet. My only option for a ride to school was my dad’s tow truck. The embarrassment I felt when getting out of his truck was indescribable. I would check my surrounds in hopes that no one would know that I was leaving from the rusty and squeaking truck. All the other students would be dropped off in luxury cars and walked with a sense of pride unlike me. When I walked into school the hallways were big which scared me because I had no idea where to go or even whom to ask for help. Everyone knew one another from childhood or was part of an extracurricular group so they all knew one another. I was the new girl in the neighborhood and had to find a way to be seen. I craved the popularity and recognition but my parents controlling everything I did made my journey tough.

10th grade was a little better because I met a few people and was able to walk in with them without the sense of embarrassment. The reality was I wanted to be the girls I saw in the corner with the guys. They were beautiful and everyone knew them! Unfortunately my parents had one major rule which was no talking to boys. All my childhood I followed this but I started to realize that there was no harm in having a few male friends. Plus at this moment I was desperate because I wanted more attention.

11th grade I found ways to trick my parents from “Mom I have a study group” to “Dad I have to get some extra help from the teachers” I always found a way to stay out later. Those excuses were my way to get to the mall and do some shopping with my girlfriend. I started packing an extra outfit every day in my backpack and would change once I got into school. I started wearing miniskirts and showing off extra skin as a way to get phone numbers. It worked but I could not save guys numbers because if a name showed up on my phone while I was around my parents they would lose it. At first I had a paper with numbers and names on it but then my friend showed me a clever way to not have to sneak around texting my new guy friends. They told me to save the numbers into the phone as female names. For example John is Jessica and Richard is Rachelle. I could not thank them enough because it worked like a charm. I got away with it until my last year in school.

12th grade I was making several friends, guys and girls and had become more comfortable with the secret lifestyle I had. This was all the same until I got asked to prom. Since I got so happy I said yes to “Rachel”. I could not use the same excuses as before because the night would end late, so my only option was the sneak out of the house. I did not tell my parents but I told my date I would meet him down the street. I remember running to his car and enjoying prom night so much because I had never experienced this before. I had my first kiss that night, I drank, and did so much more that I blacked out. When I got home I opened the door I saw my parents waiting in the living room. I was too drunk to stand and they sat down looking at my dress, smeared make-up, and a daughter they did not recognize.

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