I am a Wimp

I am a Wimp

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I am a Wimp

 

I am sitting alone on the "N" train. I am in my usual spot: back car, second floor, first window seat. It is cold inside. It is wet outside. I'm tired. My thoughts are playing themselves out in-between the lyrics on my walk-man. For Friday, I am mellow. The two sides of my personality are trying to communicate, and I have decided to simply sit down and listen to the conversation.

 

My weekday self goes to high school in Manhattan. I am often tired and try simply to get through the day. I usually do not have fun during the week. I like my friends, but there is no time to have a good time together. I feel inadequate at my high school. Many students do just as much work as I do and make it look easy. My "week" self is often frustrated.

 

In comparison, my weekend self is rested and happy. I leisurely groom myself in the morning. My weekend friends are impressed that I travel so far to get to school. They are impressed that I get good grades. But overall they are impressed that I am allowed to leave for lunch and that I actually go back to classes. My weekend self buys into the hype, and is very proud.

 

I realize part of the equation is location. My weekday self spends its days on Madison Avenue, while my weekend self spends its days in Queens. Even though I have lived my entire life in this neighborhood I have always felt a little out of place. It's a tough neighborhood and I'm not afraid to say I am a wimp. I enjoy the freedoms of the Upper East Side. The only attitude I receive is from rich women who wish teenagers would stop crowding their streets and talking too loudly. If I give someone a look, I am not afraid they are going to follow me or "jump" me. The kids in my neighborhood rarely finish school. Most go to an alternative high school or get their G.E.D. after dropping out. They eventually get decent jobs, but few receive college educations. In the end, few adults in my neighborhood enjoy their jobs. I fear this will happen to most of my weekend friends.

 

Location also affects my identity in other ways.

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The fact that I'm Jewish has never been an issue in my high school. A large group of the students who attend my high school are Jewish and they have clubs and days to celebrate the Jewish holidays. On the weekend my religion must be explained and accounted for. "But you don't look Jewish. What happened?" has been asked more than once. I explain that I am half Jewish and half Catholic and suddenly an epiphany occurs. Then people think, "Well that's ok then."

 

After the first moments of their shock, I realize my religion must be explained. Yes, I really am Jewish, and no, I was not offended by that joke you said about Hitler, but no, I do not want to hear the other one. It is not uncommon that when dividing a check someone will say, "John you owe a dollar. Don't be a Jew." One of my friends will say, "Shut up! Lizzie's Jewish." Then laughter, and after a blank expression on my face is read, an apology is given.

 

However, on this lonely subway ride, a time when I would usually start to turn into the person I love on the weekend, I am questioning the transition. Am I a fraud? Of course not! I am trying to convince myself. But how could one person also be two separate people? Is it healthy? If my insecure side showed itself to my weekend friends, would they still like me? Would I ever be forced to choose between my two personalities? The idea of leaving the comfort of having two people to choose from is starting to scare me.

 

I am jolted out of my thoughts by the bumpy arrival at my subway stop. I get off the train and look around. I see the neighborhood I have always lived in and wonder what the weekend will bring. I decide to not explain the two aspects of my personality to my friends this weekend. I know the explanation will only lead to confusion. Rather, I make a decision to embrace my two personalities and respect what they have taught me. Going to school in an affluent neighborhood has shown me the life of privilege. Living in a poor area might have led me to assume that all wealthy people are happy. The people I knew all talked about how money would solve their problems and I believed them. However, I learned that families in more comfortable circumstances have the same problems as families in housing projects. The difference is that the setting is more luxurious.

 

Yet, I have also met other students my age with achievements that never cease to amaze me. I am lucky to go to a school where I can be proud of all my friends. In Long Island City, my neighborhood, I am the exception because I know that I can do more with myself than hang out on the corner.

 

My goal is to be able to use my understanding and acceptance of the two cultures I grew up with in all areas of my life. I know that I should not assume that all inner city teenagers are apathetic. I know that I should not assume that all affluent people know how to run their lives. And I know, now, that people cannot assume what a girl from Long Island City can achieve when given the opportunity.
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