Being different

I always felt that I was different. And that feeling never changed. But however it is not the same anymore, so that feeling had somehow changed and it took me while to realize how.

It all started in primary school. I remember this was the first time when I had to learnt that I was different. The first time I wished that I would be like the others and also the first time I realized that this is never going to happen.

I started primary school in 1998 and at that time there were already quite a lot of nationalities at my school. And I was just another one.

There was a huge difference though between those kids and me. While all of the others had a separate class that was made for refugees, I was the only brown kid that would join the normal class of the school.

Even though I wasn't the only one with a foreign nationality, I was still the only one who would stand out of all of them, because of the color of my skin.

And so was it that I was the only one those kids from the other classes would try to bully. They would call me "brown banana" or some similar insults.

It didn't hurt me that much because I had quite good friends at primary school, but the more they tried to bully me the more I would try to be more like a "German".

When I moved on to second grade and a good Tamil friend of mine back then came to school as well, that feeling of being different got better, but still felt that I have to be more and more like the others.

Time went on and I changed from primary to secondary school and I was still giving my best to not stand out and trying to be just like the others. I'm not sure but it eventually worked out somehow, because I can't remember of any bad situation until I was like 13 or 14.

That's when kids hit puberty, when kids have a change of interest and when those kids feel more and more superior. That was the next time when I was made feeling different again.

Because some of those kids who never seemed to hold something against me started making jokes of my skin color. And again that feeling of being different came back.

But this time my reaction was different. While I first tried to fight back, I soon realized that it makes no sense. No matter how much I would fight back, I would never be a white kid. Never be a German kid. But always that brown kid of parents who come from Sri Lanka.

At the same time I was starting to learn more and more about my homeland at the Tamil school which I was attending for a few years already. I started learning about who I was, how Tamils were proud of themselves and how rich our culture was.

I started learning about our struggle, about being a minority in the homelands and about how the people over there still were proud of being a Tamil instead of pretending being a Sinhalese.

Those learnings really changed my mindset. Since then, I would not try to be more and more like a German anymore. Instead I accepted being a Tamil and was starting to be proud of my origins.

So whenever someone tried to bully me using the fact that I was a Tamil, he would never succeed as it was not an insult for me anymore. And with the time everybody around me realized that and that bullying stopped. (Another reason was of course that they grew up as well and had their own learnings).

That feeling of being different never changed though. But what changed was how I would handle this. It was not a flaw anymore that I was different, that I was a Tamil in a German society.

That feeling of being different even changed to the total opposite. I am still that guy that everybody recognizes because of my color skin, but I take it the positive way. I am really happy about that fact, that not everybody is the same.

I am unique, you are unique, everybody is. And that's a good thing. And I wish that everybody could accept themselves as they are and would not have that feeling they have to be like someone else.

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