For my first blog post, I was given the task of creating an About me page introducing myself to the readers, who (hopefully) will visit my blog. Perhaps, for some people, describing themselves in a few paragraphs is effortless, however in my case, this challenge proved to be a daunting three headed monster demanding I categorize myself instead of letting you decide for yourself. However, it is a requirement, so I immediately decided to attempt at creating an artsy collage that highlighted different aspects of my summer. However, after finishing it, I laughed at the irony of me sinking to the level of selfies to reveal my inner soul (the chicken parmesan was delicious though, so that should be excluded from this discussion). As the late Maya Angelou revealed in her autobiography, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”; which has encouraged me to attempt to provide you a glimpse into my life in a few paragraphs.
My name is Danielle Kade, and I was born and raised in Middle Village, NY. Both my parents immigrated from Russia to pursue education in the states and met in the states. However, at the young age of five, they were divorced, leaving me and my mother to live together. My mother is a very hard worker, and made sure that I had a wholesome childhood despite the struggles of being a single mother. A great example would be education. My mother had high hopes for my success at school, and thus applied for me to enter the gifted and talented program at our local elementary school, PS 153. When I initially failed the interview process, my mother disputed the decision and managed to get me a second attempt, which I passed. This type of perseverance and drive is one of the reasons I respect her so much. Regarding my father, he would visit me every Sunday, and I remember crying every time he would drop me off back home at the end of the day. I became extremely close to my mother, because the pain of not having my father around started to fester in my heart. At PS 153, I was a decent student, but I immediately realized that socially I was incredibly weak. I only had one friend, named Stephanie who I grew close to. In class, unfortunately, I was shunned by all my peers who were pushed away due to my overbearing and eager personality. I was genuinely good at heart, but I easily allowed my emotions to sway my behavior resulting in temper and argumentative natures that isolated me in school. However, I did try to stay positive, and managed to enjoy a positive experience at school until the fifth grade. With the introduction of new students that year, my only friend found a new group which officially left me with no one. From sitting alone for lunch every day in the cafeteria to being alone during the annual class trip to Six Flags, I was absolutely alone. I was constantly bullied from having people throw pizza at me when I would walk to a lunch seat to being called insults at all times. The most horrific moment was two girls who often bullied me wrote on the bathroom walls “Danielle Kade was still here” in order to try to get me suspended. My mother had to come to school to prove my innocence, which was a stressful task. I still cannot fathom to believe how I still could be optimistic, but I was and managed to find solace in extracurricular activities. I just accepted that this was my place as the “alone kid” at school, and tried to live life to the fullest. But by next, year it was time for middle school.
This was one of the largest transitions in my life because my mother moved us to Manhattan to attend a better middle school, Wagner, since the local IS 119 did not place me in their advanced program. When hearing the news that I was finally switching schools, I was bursting with excitement. I promised myself that I would finally change my “bad behavior” and make friends at this new school. I would be a different person and finally obtain the dream of friendship that I so desperately desired. However, as if it was a plague, the same issues followed me there. The one positive was that my grades were at the top of the class, and I told myself that all geniuses didn’t have friends, but that didn’t take away the hurt I felt of having nobody to be with. Luckily, due to my joining of clubs such as Chorus, tennis team, and handballs during lunch, I found myself in a group of strong acquaintances that I liked to pretend were my friends. Since my mother believed I could be in a more academically challenging middle school, I managed to be accepted in the highly gifted school, Anderson Middle School. As opposed to Wagner, Anderson was a very small middle school consisting of only sixty students a grade. Everyone was very bright, and the classes were at high school level difficulties. As if an Angel came down to bless me, this was my third chance to rebuild my image. Initially, I did seem to make friends, however unbeknownst to me, people began to distance themselves once again. I turned to my schoolwork and studied a lot to keep up with the tough classes, which was initially a huge struggle. I do admit that I made a few mistakes in middle school, one which still hurts me today. The final year, which was 8th grade, I did try to be friendly to everyone to change my image, but instead I was bullied once more. The worst moment was being tripped till I was bloody on my knee and crushed by a door. The assailant did get suspended, but the memory of that violent act makes middle school a bitter memory.
I was incredibly bright and luckily managed to enter Stuyvesant High School, where I again was in isolation there too. Despite advice from my mother on fitting in, I again had no friends except the two clubs I joined where some people sympathetically engaged with me. I also constantly relied on my intelligence rather than hard work to succeed in school, such as never studying for tests. This strategy (obviously) did not work at this top school, and my grades slunk to embarrassing levels. I started to question my identity and felt absolutely lost. My whole belief was that I could be socially weak, but my strength lied in my intelligence which would one day lead me to great success in life. After all, if I was a wealthy businesswoman, people would want to be friends with me! Due to my poor grades and concern for getting into college, I switched to another competitive school, Townsend Harris High School in Queens.
That summer in between was the largest transformation of me as a person. All the emotional wounds of being lonely, bullied, friendless, fatherless was buried behind a wall in my heart that not even I could access. I started to mold a new likable personality in hopes of getting friends. My grades significantly improved, and everyday I would go to school, I would put on a performance. And honestly, it did work. People seemed to like the new version of me, but it wasn’t my true self. I began to realize that my lack of friends was perhaps due to my behavior of distancing myself in school, such as skipping lunch to read alone in the library, but at least I was “accepted”. I did develop a depression during this time where I remembered I would randomly burst out crying when getting home, then putting on a huge smile in school the next day. I felt like I was trying to fool everyone, including myself. That depression turned to food, and I ended up gaining weight significantly, to the point I was 225 pounds.
I used to hate to look at mirrors and never wanted to take pictures. My weight definitely imposed on my self confidence as well. I was constantly embarrassed and shy around others fearing they were all judging me. I had my fair share of bullying and fat jokes, which did not improve my self esteem at all. However, I instead focused on being a great student, and had great grades which allowed me to get into Baruch College! The summer between high school and Baruch College, I once more tried again to change my public image. I switched to a Paleo diet and can proudly say I already lost 80 pounds, am still losing weight to get to my goal size.
I’m truly proud of where I am able to accomplish and keep working more to improve myself. Socially, I’m still awkward and I prefer to study rather than go outside. I spend most of my free time on the computer studying, playing video games (I’ll admit my weakness!), and living indoors as if I was a vampire. I understand my faults and strengths and will continue to work on them. For my blog, I will be taking you with me along this journey, as even I try to understand who “About me” really is.