"Being homeless can be a very isolating experience.
Whenever I would go to school, I always felt different from everyone else. While everyone else would leave school and go back home to their family, I would leave to go back to a shelter. I would get sad, almost pitiful, looks from my teachers and other students who knew my situation. I began to feel so alone in school, I almost wanted to stop going. Even now in university, I still feel like people know that I had been homeless for the past two years, and it makes me feel anxious and paranoid while walking through the campus.
Being homeless felt as though I had lost my place in the community and I had become an outsider. However, as I began to become isolated from my school community, I found a new sense of belonging with other youth in the shelter.
I never expected to make friends at the shelter, as I’d always had this negative image in my head of homeless people being “bad people” or not deserving of my attention which I was wrong about. Even the staff at the shelter told me not to become friends with anyone there, and that in a years time I wouldn’t even talk to anyone at the shelter.
But they were wrong.
My closest friends were two other girls in the shelter and we all became a support system for each other. We all shared a room, we were all in school and we were all escaping abusive families. We were able to keep each other entertained, would often sneak food into our room and have parties, and would go out and have fun people watching.
But we were also there for each other in times of hardship, such as providing support for each other when one of our families would try and contact us. I made plenty of other friends at the shelter, and even 2 years later, I still talk to them. Me and the girls are still extremely close, and think of each as sisters. I had lost my place in one community, but I was able to find my place in another, one that accepts me regardless of what I’m going through."