Chapter 1 – Growing Up Lonely

I was a weird kid growing up. I don’t mean sit in the corner and pick my nose weird, but I did spend a lot of time alone. Too much time alone.

Whenever kids asked me to play, they would reach for their Hot Wheels, dinosaurs, and dolls. Out of the three dolls were the absolute worst. I remember girls would dress them up, give them names, and even come up with background stories. Like, this is Amber, she’s a model for Limited Too, and she’s dating Chad. I always thought that was so stupid. Why am I pretending an inanimate object is real? It wasn’t until Toy Story that I started to second guess myself, but that’s beside the point. I preferred coloring or having DMCs, also known as deep, meaningful conversations. I was a child but oddly, I behaved like a grownup.

It was difficult fitting in with my age group, and on the off chance I met someone I got along with, it would be impossible to see them outside of school. Both of my parents worked full time, so they didn’t have the opportunity to drive me around to a friend’s house or to the mall. I was at home watching television or talking to my nanny most of the time. She was probably the only person who really knew me back then.

When my little brother Anthony was born in 2005, things changed. I had a built-in best friend. He was the cutest, chubbiest baby, and I was obsessed with holding him. My parents love to remind me that when the doctor announced it was a boy, I threw a tantrum.

I screamed, “Why? I don’t want a brother! Give me a little sister.”

The doctor had to calm me down before I alarmed any patients.

He explained, “A little sister will steal your clothes, wear your make-up, and annoy you a lot more than a little brother. Trust me.”

Well, the doctor was right. My brother was definitely annoying, but he was nothing compared to some little girls I knew. For some reason, little girls love to “do” your hair. At least, my brother never turned mine into a bird’s nest. Instead, we invented games, like the sock game, where we both start off wearing a pair of socks, and the first one to take off the other person’s socks wins. I believe I beat him every match, but I know he’d fight me on that. Over time, my brother became one of my closest friends.

Fast forward several years to middle school, and I still hadn’t found my niche. I would hang out with this group of girls because we had the same classes, and they lived one bike ride away. Nonetheless, there was constant drama within our friend group.

“She doesn’t like me? Well, f*** her. I don’t like her either.”

Even though we enjoyed talking about school and boys together, all the gossip and negativity weighed me down. I swore to myself that in high school I would escape the drama and focus on my grades. It was a dream of mine to get into a good college and make my parents proud. When they emigrated to the United States from Brazil, my mom had her high school diploma but my dad had barely finished middle school. Neither of them spoke English, and they worked day and night to give me and my brother the life we live now. Inspired by them, I said I would be the first of our family to go to a university, and that’s exactly what happened. I spent all my high school years stressing over SATs/ACTs, Advanced Placement exams, and essays. During the college application season, I wouldn’t have anyone to guide me through the process. I would have to wander through unknown territory on my own, so I began preparing early.

Because I was busy studying all the time, I missed out on many high school experiences: parties, relationships, and random, late nights with friends. I cried of loneliness and fear of missing out (FOMO) hundreds of times. At night, I would lie awake uncontrollably sobbing into my pillow so my parents couldn’t hear me. I felt alone, unloved, and unhappy. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. I had a wonderful, supportive family that cared for me, but I also had the habit of catastrophizing. In future chapters, I will talk about how I dealt with these issues.

I regret not having as much fun in high school, but the hard work eventually paid off! I was accepted to New York University (NYU), which was a huge accomplishment at my high school. Most people commit to our popular state school, Rutgers University, or a community college. The handful of students who attended a prestigious university or left the state were applauded. Never did I expect to be one of them.

I was about to embark on a life-altering journey.

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Thayz Queiroz is a junior at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her concentration is a mixture of psychology and sociology with a focus on human behavior and why people commit crimes. She plans to attend law school upon graduation and looks forward to what the future holds. Completely unrelated, her book “Miss Independent is Taken” is about the transition from being single to starting a relationship. In her book, she shares her personal struggles with confidence, school, and love. Thayz has faced many obstacles, some discouraging and others inspiring, the past three years of college. By the end of her book, she reveals the lessons she’s learned in hopes that it will help other young adults.

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