Holding On

“… but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from.” – The House on Mango Street

Polar Opposites

My sister and I are nothing alike. Constantly being compared to her has made me realize that. 

She’s social and puts herself out there. I’m the opposite. I keep my thoughts to myself and prefer to not be seen. She damages her curly hair with a flat iron to make it straight like mine – except mine is natural. She’s taller than me – by two inches – and everyone always compliments her for it. 

I’m always told to be more like her. Be more like your sister and eat. Look at your sister, she’s talking to people. My entire family prefers her over me. When my cousins come over they always go to her. They’re a lot older than me and since she’s the oldest they have more to talk about and I sit there in her shadow.

When people first meet us they think we’re the same person. They’re wrong. 


The lucky kids, the ones who got to sleep on the preschool beds. I would help set up the beds and put the sheets on but I wouldn’t sleep on them. I usually colored the papers my teacher gave me while I waited for my grandma to pick me up while everyone else slept. Everyone but me. There maybe was a hint of jealousy and to this day, I can’t say I’ve gotten over it. The missed opportunity of sleeping on a bed that looked like a trampoline. All the sweat and bacteria build up from 4 year olds that I could’ve contributed to. But jokes on them; I got to color.

photo from pixabay


English wasn’t my first language. I would be pulled out of class in kindergarten to practice my pronunciation. It was hard when other kids would not understand me but it would be more frustrating when they would make fun of me. Everyone would watch when I left the room for my lessons because I needed “special treatment”. 

I would cry when my teachers wanted to talk to me because I was scared I would be getting in trouble. It’s not fun when white people are talking to you and you don’t understand what they’re saying. Are they being racist? Are they comforting me? Helping me? It was a struggle.

My parents work very hard for my sisters and I to live here in “The Golden State”. It’s truly a blessing and a curse. My English overall has improved by a lot but my Vietnamese has gotten worse. I can understand what my parents are saying but I can’t speak it. I wish I could and it’s embarrassing that I can’t.

photo from pixabay


I remember when everyone would be wearing skinny jeans. They were everywhere. I would beg my mom for some but every pair I tried, they wouldn’t fit. Too big. Too short. Too long. A repetitive cycle. There was no perfect size for me. Even in the kids section.

I was underweight. By a lot. I looked like a twig with chopsticks as legs. You could see the bones of my ribs sticking out – like a skeleton. 

Every article of clothing wouldn’t fit how I wanted it to but I would buy them anyway thinking I could make it work. Every shirt I bought would be hidden behind a jacket or never worn because I didn’t like the way my arms looked. They looked wrong. Out of proportion. Leggings and a jacket with a shirt underneath would be the only thing I would wear. Even though I had to squeeze myself into five pairs of the same leggings each day, they fit my chopstick legs so I was content. The tight sensation near my waist was annoying but I had no other option than feeling suffocated with the waistband. 

My closet was full of clothes. Yet most of it was never worn. Other kids would always ask me why I wore the same thing every day. I wouldn’t reply.

photo from pixabay

A Room of My Own

Not one that I share with my sister or my parents. My own room. One where I’ll have all the space in the world for a bed. Where the walls aren’t painted an ugly blue. A room where there’s a big window for the sun to shine through. One where I’ll hear nobody snoring. Nobody’s clothes on my side. Nobody to boss me around. Just me. With my stuffed animals and my blanket. 

The room is quiet when I sleep. Only the sound of a fan plays. I feel safe. 

photo from pixabay

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