When he almost got caught up in serious trouble while trying to keep up with the cool crowd, Wilfredo Molina learned the true value of being yourself.
Do you ever feel like you don’t even know who you are? I often feel unfamiliar with my younger self because of my actions that were much unlike me today. From being hated by teachers to almost being arrested and overall a nuisance in school, I used to let others influence my decisions but I’ve changed for the better.
I was led to this unhealthy mentality of trying to be cool to please the clique I was in. I saw that these kids who acted up got all the attention and I wanted some of that popularity too. I’d commit actions otherwise seen as ridiculous by everyone else in the grand court of the school, but in the moment I would feel a rush of validation and felt like I finally belonged.
This behavior only got worse as time went on. It started with clowning on the teacher for laughs with my friends, but it quickly got out of control and almost led to something that could have gotten me in serious trouble.
One gloomy day after school, we jumped fences, climbed ladders and ended up on a rooftop of a corner store. When a neighbor threatened to call the cops, my friend shocked me by challenging their authority. I felt a rush — of fear. All I could think about was my future and what my parents would think of me.
Sure, acting out got me the attention I wanted, but it wasn’t worth it in the end. I noticed every frown and expression of disappointment from my peers all along too, but in the moment it felt good. Looking back, I feel regret.
I could go on explaining the rigors of being someone with a toxic mentality and what I did but what I want to say is: you should never have to be someone you’re not to feel valid. I did the most to fit in but ended up almost ruining my life because I wanted to seem cool.
Although not everyone can relate, I believe everyone has the chance to better themselves. Nothing is impossible as I’ve proven with my drastic change from being a reckless little kid to being someone with goals and opportunities in the future. I am thankful to have grown into a true version of myself and to have overcome that act. I’ll use my newly gained recognition of who I am to better myself in the ways I can change and when I do, I’ll do it for myself.
With a Perspective, I’m Wilfredo Molina.
Wilfredo Molina is a junior at De Anza High School in Richmond. His piece was produced with free curriculum from KQED’s Perspectives Youth Media Challenge.