Being the Youngest, By Olivia Lam, 5th Grade

Mia’s disappointed eyes gazed at the soccer field from the bleachers.  A group of girls kicked around a soccer ball at the other end of the field as Mia watched them longingly.  She recognized some of her friends from her grade.  “I’m sorry Mia, but you aren’t old enough to be in the advanced group of the soccer team,” the Coach said.  Driving home miserably, Mia’s mom whispered, “I’m sorry Mia, but the Coach says he has to think about it.”  When Mia got home she wondered, “Why do I have to be the youngest in my grade?”

Five years ago when I was in preschool, my family and I moved overseas.  There, when I started school, I was placed directly in Kindergarten.  On our return to the U.S. a year later, I was already in Grade 1.  My old friends here in America were in Kindergarten still, but because I had moved I was placed into Grade 1 at my school.  From that point on, I became, by far, the youngest in my grade.

Being the youngest person in the grade every year, I have encountered situations in which I have felt uncomfortable and different.  In some cases, my age and size difference has affected the way people see me at school.  Apart  from school, being a year younger than my peers has also had an effect on my extracurricular activities, such as sports.  For example, at the beginning of the school year, I was evaluated for my placement in a tennis group, but being smaller and younger than my grade 5 peers meant that I was not immediately able to join the Advanced Class for 10-13 year-old children.  Whereas, my friend and tennis partner in Fifth grade was accepted into the class since she was almost eleven.  In order for us to play as partners, she chose to enroll in the younger age-group tennis class to be with me.

Being smaller and younger than the rest of the kids in my year has been bothersome at times, but I have also learned to accept my differences.  Everyone at school didn’t treat me differently because of my age or my size and that has helped me to accept it.  Being different has taught me to recognize and in some cases, appreciate everyone else’s differences.

In conclusion, my age and size difference was once a problem for me, but I grew to accept it.  I have learned many things since that which have helped me to approach others that have physical, academic or emotional problems.   Understanding others differences, whether they are strength or weaknesses, has helped me to see that everybody’s different and that is what makes the world an interesting place to live in!

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