Not Who I Am
Belonging to a group isn’t all that great after a while. Yeah, you have friends and stuff, but doing everything as a group gets boring and annoying.

I was in a group called “SK” (Shape Krew). We would eat lunch everyday at school and make fun of people as they walked by. On the weekends, we would go to the movies or to parties. Yes, it was fun but after seeing what we can do on tape made me feel like it wasn’t who I am.

I’ve never changed myself for anyone and I hope never to. When I was with the krew, I never felt like I belonged with them but at the same time, I felt like I was wanted. Now that we are all graduated, we all went our own way. Some got a job, others went to college, and some stayed their own self and became lazy, still supported by their parents.

I guess in the end, being part of a group isn’t all what it seems.
-Anna, 18


Just The Backup
I’ve been in a group of friends who were labeled as the volleyball players. They were cool and played a lot of volleyball together. When I am with them, I feel very attached. We all play volleyball against other teams for fun. The sad part is that only six guys can play at a time. I was usually the one on the sidelines unless someone was willing to give up their position, but that happens rarely. I’m just a backup.
-Dasen, 18


To Be Alone
Most of my life, I haven’t been in a clique or a group. I know what it’s like to be alone, and now that I’m older, I don’t mind it as much.

When I was younger, I hated being by myself. I would sit at recess and cry and pout, and do nothing about it. Elementary school was a time that was hard for me because everything was changing so much. I would be so bored, I would draw sometimes. The more I drew, the more unwanted attention it brought. The other kids wanted me for my drawings, not to get to know me. It hurt me a lot, but that kind of attention was better than no attention at all.

In high school, it was a little different. During the second half of my sophomore year, I was by myself. I had just changed schools and I wasn’t ready to be part of a group. I would hang out in the school library at lunchtime. For once, it was good to be alone.
-Jaleesa, 20


Girls Vs. Guys
When I’m with a group of friends, I sometimes feel comfortable. There are times when I hang out with my other friend, and I’m more comfortable with her. She’s a great friend, so I guess you could say I really like hanging out with her. She tells me that I’m funny because I make her laugh. Although I hang out with her, I hang out with my guy friends too. That’s when my friend hangs out with the girl friends.

Sometimes I hang out with my girl friend and her friends, we just sit there and talk about things like clothes, shoes, phones, etc. I feel comfortable with them. I prefer hanging out with her instead since she makes me happy.
-Luis, 17


Accepting People
Belonging to a group or crowd is an amazing feeling. I think Riff from West Side Story explains it the best. To him, being a Jet is the best feeling in the world. When you’ve got company, you’re just comfortable and they’ll always be there. I’m thankful because the people I’m around all the time (my crew) accept me and want to hear my opinions. They never judge, which is what I like because I accept everyone for who they are. What makes my situation a unique one is that my friends and I are all different, yet we love and care for each other. We love to accept people.
-Ena, 15


Tough Friends
You see everyone laughing and screaming together during lunch and you are left alone, sitting at a different table. You tell yourself, it will be okay, but the truth is you’re hurting inside.

Growing up and wanting to fit in is something every kid wants in life. My two friends always talk together and never really include me in their conversation, even when I’m next to them. All the things they did or planned to do, I would never know about until the last minute. I was always left clueless. They sometimes even talk about what they did together, even when I’m there. Yes, I definitely feel left out. Sometimes I feel like they don’t even like me but I won’t let that take me down.
-Sheng, 16


The Listener
In seventh grade, I felt like an outcast, someone put me outside of the group I hung with. I guess it’s because they were new friends, and there were so many people in the group. My friends talked to me less and whenever I joined the conversation, it was like no listened to me. I would hear them talking to each other but it felt sometimes like only a cricket was talking back to me. I felt hurt but now I’m used to it.

It’s been five years since then. It still hurts but I’m enduring. I guess whenever I feel left out, I always have two friends who really listen to me, but other than that, I really have no one else. I guess I’m just not that fun to talk to, but that’s fine. I’m happy. Here and there, I smile. At least I still have a few friends who listen. I’m more of a listener and “laugher” anyway.
-Yee Leng, 16


It was my sophomore year and I would spend all my breaks and lunchtime in a classroom working. One day, a girl came in and was working on some project she had for Physics class. After she was done, we started talking and became friends. We were always be in the classroom, working, talking or eating. Then one day, she noticed I loved writing poetry and invited me to a meeting about writing.

After school the following Monday, I went with her to the meeting. It was a very fun meeting. I met a lot of interesting, open-minded young people and a youth group from the Bay Area called “De-Bug.” I liked it so much because they made me feel welcomed. So I kept going back. We then decided on a name to call our group, and today, we are The kNOw. We are a unique group of people and we’re like a great big family. I am grateful they accept me for who I am.
-Chanda, 21


Righteous Mix
During high school, the group I hung around with was the same one I hung with outside of school. We blended with whoever came and chilled. We all enjoyed what each person brought to the table. We all smoked and lived on the West Side. Our interests differed in a way, but it kept us balanced. No one took away more than what they added, and everyone was known through family or one of who was there. We were all from different backgrounds, which made it like a salad, a righteous mix of flavors
-Marcus, 20


Be Yourself
I think it’s wrong when people neglect people who aren’t part of a group and also when people change to be part of a group. I say, be yourself and don’t try to be someone you’re not because your opinion of yourself is the only thing that matters. Don’t worry about other people’s opinion because that just makes you more insecure and doubt yourself. No one likes feeling that way.


Content Either Way
Cliques. Everyone belongs to one and may not even know it. People often classify others without even getting to know the person. Honestly, I’ve never really felt like I could be classified into a clique although people have classified me as a “prep” and a “popular kid.” Cliques have become a normal thing in high school.

I really don’t feel I belong to one group because I hang out with everyone to an extent. All of my friends are great people who are always welcoming. I don’t really remember a time when I felt left out. To me, it doesn’t matter if I’m with a group of friends or alone, I’ll be content either way. It’s hard to say I’m in a group because I relate with so many people. I don’t want to just fall in one category. Everyone is always in search of people they can relate to just so they can be with that group, but people fail to realize that even people who you think you would have nothing in common with may have something in common with you.

With that thought in mind, stop sticking to the same people all the time and make some new friends J.
-Arena, 18

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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