It feels silly writing about a hero’s journey as I am sitting in a house in Pleasanton. I have not slain any dragons nor have I overcome any massive obstacles. My life has been good and I have been fortunate. So, why I have I chosen to write about the hero’s journey? The truth is that any hero’s journey is a personal battle.
Victory or defeat are not always obvious to outside observers. The wealthy prince of Denmark was torn apart by personal demons even though to outside observers he was the most fortunate person in the country. For me, my personal battle was with fitting in with the cliques and nebulus rules of teenage life in Pleasanton.
The root of my struggles fitting into Pleasanton comes from the story originating outside of Pleasanton. The natives of Pleasanton know the rules from birth, but I am not a native. I don’t come from far away on the map, but it is a world apart. When I was just a toddler, my parents decided they wanted to live a different kind of life.Order now
They had purchased some property totally off the grid in Sunol. They were living in Oakland at the time and felt like they wanted to raise my sister and I in a different environment. This wasn’t just about moving from the city to the suburbs, this was a radical choice. The place where they wanted to build the house had no electricity, internet, or phone service. Our closest neighbor would be two miles away. The house was surrounded by lush green hills and amazing wildlife.
While I didn’t have neighborhood kids to play with, there were deer, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. Some of these encounters were peaceful and amazing while some felt life threatening. I remember one instance when I kicked a soccer ball onto a rattlesnake. Running over to the ball, I heard a rattle that made me stop dead in my tracks. This was my first encounter with a rattlesnake not knowing exactly what it was and the possible harm it could inflict on me.
However, I got used to living with the wild animals. I even had a few more rattlesnake encounters. Still, the biggest thing we were missing was a community. Our family had each other, but there were no neighbor kids to play with. Even for preschool I went to my dads work instead of a normal school.
Things were going to change for me after preschool. I would be going to kindergarten at Sunol Glen school. Sunol Glen is a public school, but it wasn’t like most schools in the area. Since Sunol was such a small community the classes were also small. I remember my first day there.
Thoughts of what it would look like raced through my mind. Would I finally be a part of a community now? I did make friends in Sunol Glen, one of which I am still close to, however my time there was still limited. As it turned out I wouldn’t be a part of this community for too long.
Sunol Glen was starting to have problems with a new Superintendent by the time I entered the third grade. The new Superintendent wanted to grow the school by inviting new students from throughout Alameda County to attend. She also wanted to move out the older teachers to bring in new teachers. The result was crowded classes being taught by brand new teachers. This did not add up to a great learning environment and also impacted our sense of community.
By the end of fourth grade the issues in the school where bad enough where my parents felt it was best for my sister and I to leave again. This time we would go to a private school in Pleasanton. However, the people there came from different communities and backgrounds as well. Everyone was nice but again there was a lack of community. The best thing about this private school was that I learned how to swear in Chinese. This also would only last a few years as I would transition yet again.
The impetus for my next transition would be the final move back on to the grid for my family. Through all my other changes at least I was still in the same house. However it took moving away from the hills of Sunol to realize how out of place I truly was.
Due to a major construction project near our house in the country my parents were finally compelled to move into Pleasanton. I would be attending public school in Pleasanton for the first time. The eighth grade would be my first year of trying to fit in to tight knit community like Pleasanton. To the outside observer it might not look like the most dramatic battle to be fought but for a eighth grader it was.
Middle school is notoriously dramatic as everyone is trying to find their place and their tribe. Yet for me it was more traumatic due to the environment I was coming from. I was attending a school of 70 students a year ago and now I have 30 strangers in just one class. All 30 seemed to know who each other. They seemed to have a routine they were familiar with, they all knew the social rules, and they all seemed to know who they were going to be friends with already. I was an outsider fighting a quite battle to be on the inside.
I wish I could say that the battle was won easily or even within a year, but that would be a lie. For three years I was drifting in and out of groups trying to find the right one for me. Always feeling a little out of place not knowing if I will find one. Life in Pleasanton was in many ways easier then it was in Sunol. Going to the supermarket was now a short trip instead of a long journey. I could easily attend events and go to sports. On the other hand the social dynamics were much more complicated.
Junior year is when things started clicking for me. I finally began to understand the arcane social rules of Pleasanton. I finally found a community in which I felt I belonged. This was a major transformation for me from living isolated from the rest of society. It may seem like a simple thing but this made a dramatic difference in my life.
To outsiders this journey may not seem like the largest adventure and in truth, it is not. However the personal struggle of trying to find where you belong is at the root of any hero’s journey. For me I can easily connect this journey to writing this paper.
One of the main reasons I am in this class and in this community college is because I want to stay connected with the people I have discovered in this community. I know someday I will need to make another transition and I feel with what I learned in this community will make that future transition easier. Yet for now, I am happy to spend some time building up a strong base for my next journey.