I’m currently a high school sophomore living in California, USA. For all of my life up until July of 2017, I’ve lived in Southern California in a suburb about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, in the San Bernadino County. I grew up in SoCal, and therefore I fondly call it my home. My father, who is an engineer, has changed companies several times throughout my childhood/adolescence either due to instabilities in the companies themselves or because of stress due to daily commute (we lived about an hour from LA, which meant he had to drive about two hours every day round trip). Last year, during my freshman year of high school, my dad left his job, as the company was receiving a large influx of new affiliates and employees from New York and because the management had been entirely replaced by the NY team. Since the new management was replacing original Californian employees with their own New Yorkers, my dad left, knowing he’d eventually be replaced as well. He searched and searched for months for a similar position in another company around the SoCal/LA area, but found none. The “closest” one he could find was in San Jose, all the way up north in the Bay Area.

When I first heard about this job opportunity in early February or March, I was stunned and, of course, upset. I asked my mom if we’d really be moving all the way up to San Jose for this job, but my mom assured me we wouldn’t. For some time after that emotional talk, I was relieved, and my life carried on normally until late April. A month before the end of my school year, my dad, who accepted that San Jose position due to lack of any other jobs in SoCal, left for Northern California himself to start that job. I was left with my mom in SoCal to finish the school year, and they told me that they planned on completely selling our house to relocate to the San Jose area in June or July. And, again, I was devastated.

Now, I understand that there are many students at my old school who came to the United States all the way from China or another foreign country to study here. It must’ve been more difficult for them to enter a totally different society, culture, and country with no friends (some didn’t even speak English) than for me to move across the state. The fact that I’m a socially awkward (I’m not 100% certain and I’ve never been professionally diagnosed, but I believe there’s a chance I could have ADHD or some type of hyperactivity disorder; many of my behavior patterns and such align with those of the common ADHD youth according to my research), bumbling, forgetful, and loud person makes it extremely difficult for me to make new friends. I may be more extroverted, but I find it hard just to make lasting friendships with people who genuinely like me. Keeping up with the latest fashion trends or joining the popular crowd has never really been “my thing”, no matter how much I try. Add my strange interest in names and languages to the mix, and you get a creepy, awkward, and stupid girl as a result.

I spent June and July of 2017 volunteering for my mom’s friend, who ran a Chinese summer school for children. I was, fortunately, able to make new friends during my volunteering time (I even reconciled with an old childhood friend I hadn’t seen in five years), and the time spent there helped me to forget about the upcoming doom I’d inevitably face in July. I was also able to spend some quality time with one of my older cousins from Taiwan.

Come the pain of the end of summer, my family officially made the final move to Northern California. I said my goodbyes to the several good friends I’d managed to make over five years, tears and all. During my final moments in the house I’d come to appreciate and love, I tried to convince myself that my new life in Northern California would be better, since I’d have a chance to start fresh in a new city with new people. From what a Southerner knew about the Bay Area, I thought I’d be living in a fancy, high-tech, Cupertino or San Francisco-type city. More diversity and different ethnicities to meet. For once, I actually felt confident about my future.

Turns out, I’d actually be living in a cramped, small apartment in a small, white-majority suburb southwest of San Jose. The school I’d be attending for my sophomore year was by far a downgrade from my highly acclaimed school in Southern California, which was really upsetting. Since I came in late, I wasn’t informed of the tons of summer homework for the Honors and AP classes I selected, which meant months worth of work crammed into the first few weeks of school to complete — the quality of which, as reckoned, was still expected to be high. At my old school, I’d planned on taking Honors English II, which yielded no summer homework that year, much to my relief. At my new school, however, I was anxious and upset to discover that I had an entire project and two full-length novels to read for their summer assignment (my counselor didn’t inform me of this despite the fact that I met with her three weeks prior to the beginning of the school year…). Unfortunately, due to all the stress of the first week and the five chapters of AP World History summer work I’d have to do, I was forced to drop Honors English, something I’m still frustrated over to this day.

Meeting new students wasn’t a problem — I met at least twenty people during my first week — but starting actual friendships was an issue. As the weeks began to pass, I quickly realized that most of the other sophomores had their own individual social groups or “cliques”, which I’d anticipated beforehand. Joining one of these groups was inevitably going to be difficult, and my predictions were correct. I tried for weeks to grow closer to someone — anyone — but those weeks turned to months as my loneliness grew. I did meet a few friends who seemed interesting, but they too had closer friends they preferred to me. Most of the people I wanted to talk to seemed distant or uninterested in me, and I could tell some of them flat out did not want to interact with me. On free partner projects, I’d always be apologized to by my “friends”, who all had closer friends to work with. The thought of my friends in Southern California and the region I’d called home for so long turned to tears. I tried to express my feelings to my parents, but they merely brushed me and my issues aside. Even my best friend in Southern California — who was much more sociable and “normal” than me — had other friends to replace my absence. I felt (and still feel) utterly alone. The only benefit I saw from the move was the fact that I wasn’t forced to attend church on Sundays anymore by my mother (she is a devout Christian while I consider myself an atheist), but that joy was quickly diminished when she eventually found a Chinese church for us to join.

My anger and frustration grew to the point where I’d cry myself to sleep for days on end, while my parents who simply scold me to stop “whining”. I’d beg them to allow me to return to Southern California and my old school, but none of my relatives there were willing to accept me to live with them. I refused to live with a foster family.

At this point, my grades are slacking (I still maintain straight A’s, but many of them are borderline to a B), my social life is empty as usual, and my life is all-in-all sh*t. It’s been about four months since my arrival here, and I still don’t consider a single person to be a “good friend” (or something even remotely close to that position) of mine. I can’t properly express my emotions to my parents, who will simply brush me off as annoying or nagging, my old friends are much too busy nowadays to listen to my venting, and I have no one at my current school to call a good enough friend to actually listen to me. My mom suggested transferring me to a different school in the area once our apartment lease expires in December, but I’ve come to realize that I’ll have the same problem no matter where I go here. I’m currently stuck in a dilemma: stay in this hell-on-earth with a deteriorating mental and emotional state but remain with my parents (I’m smart enough to realize that I’m not ready to be on my own yet at this age, despite what many other teenagers might say) or to return to my former school to stabilize my mental state but lose my parents. At this point in my life, I’d honestly rather be dead or in the uninhabited steppes of Kazakhstan roaming freely without the need of friends or problems.