Shafi Hassan describes how being different keeps him on the right path
I feel I am different in three ways. First, I am Muslim. I pray and somebody from a different religion can drink and have pork.
Second, my parents are from Somalia. I have a different type of food and music that Somali people like.
Third, I was born a special needs child. I have difficulty understanding. I get stressed a lot sometimes. I find it hard to remember what I have to do and what other people ask me for in life.
Two things have affected me. One was when my brother was attacked after school once because of his religion. The other was when I was 17 and started hanging out in the park. Other young people would call me names.
My mind hurts so much often I stay at home on the sofa playing PS4
These experiences have made me feel scared. I have this really bad feeling. I worry about what could happen to me. Somebody may attack me because of how people in my area think of me. This makes me depressed and I get mad.
My mind hurts so much often I just stay home on the sofa playing PS4. Sometimes I try to do stuff to get happy. I like to joke with people and make them laugh. Sometimes I even make jokes with strangers because I want to be the centre of attention.
I’ve learnt that this is dangerous because everyone’s not the same out there and one day somebody may take things the wrong way and get violent.
The issues I face are social interaction. I used to be very egotistical. I only cared about myself and no one else. The only person I could rely on was myself. I used to have very bad anger issues when people used to call me names.
I used to hit people but now I take time to calm down because I realise that doing this is wrong. It’s not going to solve anything. Instead I ask them why they called me names and try and sort out the issue. I get to my room and think of how I can stay calm instead of going ‘mortal combat’ style.
I have started to accept what and who I am, inside and out, because I am not perfect. No one is.
The benefits of being Muslim are that I pray. It helps me out with my stress and grievances. I worship Allah and this puts me on the right path of life. I don’t smoke or take drugs and I’m not rude to my parents. I try to be respectful to everyone.
The benefits of being Somali is that we have different types of food, Somali pancake for breakfast, goat meat and rice for lunch, sweet Somali snacks like samosas, dough balls and halwa. I also like the Somali singer Ali Dhaanto. Here is his song, called Gobalada, which is about the regions of Somalia.
The benefits of having special needs are that I feel I can be kinder than other people. I share things and I am generous. I have a big heart. When a friend has a problem I always back them up.
Whether I am different or not, people should treat me with the respect every human equally needs and deserves. They should respect how I look, how I speak and my actions, if they are appropriate.
The advice I would give to other young people like me is to get on the right path. Don’t be stupid and don’t be irresponsible, like speaking to random strangers and saying weird stuff because they may not be nice like you.
Ignore bad comments, like “you’re ugly” or “you’re dumb”, that people might say or post on social media. There is an old saying: sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Violence is never the way to solve issues with people. It would just make things worse.
Shafi is studying at Leighton college. He likes watching wrestling and loves playing his favourite wrestling game, WWE 2k19 on PS4. Shafi enjoys listening to a rap channel on YouTube called DJ Limelight and when he is older he would like to become a rapper.
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