We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

← Back to all stories
Photo ofTanya Shamoon

I wanted to be heard, but I was afraid of what other people thought of me. I was worried about being a white Assyrian girl and having to talk in front of people. I was embarrassed because I knew so many Assyrian  girls, bossy and with attitudes, and I wasn’t like them. I felt so left out from the other kids because I had no friends who were similar to me, no one to talk to about my problems. Soon, I started to realize that being scared was okay, and that every voice in the world was important.  Fifth-grade was hard for me because I was terrified of talking. I was bullied for not having any friends and I did not have a teacher I trusted enough. I worried about letting people hear my thoughts because I always considered them stupid, so I sat quietly in the corner of the room. Kids called me names, made fun of me, and thought it was funny to spread rumors about me. They would say that I had no friends and no one to talk to, but I ignored them and spoke to my mom about it. I was nervous to talk to her because I thought she wouldn’t understand, but she did, and I felt like I had a best friend I could trust and talk to. My mom helped me through the bullying and encouraged me to start talking out loud in front of people and to share my opinions. Later on, I started speaking out loud more because my mom started telling me it’s okay to be afraid. I knew in the future it would be hard for me if I was still scared to speak out loud in front of people, so I knew I had to start taking some steps to speak up.  I started standing up for myself and learned to speak up because my voice matters. I used my voice to stop the rumors and bullying. I fought through the urge to stay silent because I knew when I used my voice, everything that makes me insecure would change. Now, I am always the first person to raise their hand in class. People would be shocked to hear that I was once the quiet girl that never talked to anyone. I learned that it doesn’t matter what little girls or boys thought because they were all negative, so I ignored them and lived my life.  Now I am a freshman living my best life. I’ve made so many more friends than I did in 5th grade and I am not afraid to speak up anymore. I always encourage others to speak up because I don’t want them going through the same thing I did. No one can bully me or spread rumors about me and I can speak up and not let anyone bully anyone else either. I learned everyone’s voice matters and needs to be heard, especially my own.

© Tanya Shamoon. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.