G Day Stories: Erika

Erika Sommerville is currently studying Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Her studies have given her much insight into her own development and understanding of how she became the person she is today.  She is multi-racial, Japanese and Canadian and because of her multicultural background, she has always been interested in learning about other cultures and how different people live. She has travelled quite extensively in the last few years, including Central America and Europe. She is also a volunteer at an organization called Women Transforming Cities. In the future, she hopes to become a bridge between different groups of people. Thank you for sharing your G Day Story, Erika

Erika Somerville

When I was approaching puberty, I was living a chaotic life. I moved to Vancouver from Japan when I was 9 years old, so for a while I lived in a world of complete jibber-jabber. It was hard for me to befriend and understand my classmates, and it was hard for my classmates to befriend and understand me. Needless to say, I was still in the process of learning a whole other language during my path into puberty. While I was struggling to adopt this new life, I could feel in my heart that I was being left behind by my classmates, even without words. Culturally, I was still uncomfortable with the new Canadian one. The language barrier imprisoned me, not allowing me to join the other girls in talking about what’s “in,” who’s “cute,” or how we were feeling about growing up. I felt my stomach sink down through my body. I felt alone and scared in a world that I did not fully understand. I wondered, am I Canadian, or am I Japanese? Do I really belong here when I feel so uncomfortable? Lost in translation not only in language, but in who I am and who I was becoming, I hit puberty. I was terrified that I was going to become an adult without knowing what it feels like to belong somewhere.

Finally, once I mastered English, I began to catch up to the other kids. I still had the fears of being an outcast and struggled with who I was. But once I learned how to talk to my friends, I found out that I was not the only one who was afraid of being alone. Language and cultural differences aside, we were all scared and excited about growing up and doing amazing things with our lives. Though it was grueling, I found the strength to continue stepping forward in my life. I found the strength because I realized that this is what we all have to do in our lives. If all of us must face fears in life and grow from them, then can’t we say that we are never alone in this crazy adventure called life?

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