They’re watching me now, hawk eyes sharply focused on my miniature figure. Their unnerving gazes hold steady under furrowed brows as they await my answer. “What have you done?” one asks again brusquely. His question is laced with impatience. I want to tell them everything I have done. I want to say that I had climbed the most difficult section of the school rock wall despite my fear of heights, that I gave an impromptu speech in my English class regardless of my fear of public speaking, that I underwent extensive blood testing in the face of my fear of needles. None of these would impress, though. Though these instances were all personal and difficult, they were not enough to let these four senior students really learn who I am or what I have done.
“I became me” I say in an almost inaudible whisper. They eye me quizzically. I always expect it.
People can hardly believe, let alone remember back to the time when I barely existed. The girl I was then was barely anything at all. She was a shadow of a kid trapped in her own head.
This seclusion grabbed a hold of me in elementary school. The girls didn’t like me; the boys were too busy playing Pokemon to care. I had no solace, no safe haven in any of the twenty kids I knew at the time. After a while, I came to believe that the reason nobody liked me was because I was flawed. As the years went on, my image of myself was twisted and mangled into a grotesque form. When my parents transferred me to a new school, I was persistent that it would be different that time.
I bought tight jeans and makeup, grew out my hair, and even plucked my eyebrows down to two emaciated lines of hair on my forehead in the name of beauty. This change in my appearance was able to foster the illusion of confidence until I was able to be truly confident in myself. Throughout my middle-school years, I was pushed and pulled into this group and that while I tried to figure out who I was. The Goth group, Emo kids, preppy girls, BoHo teens, art nerds, punk guys, and even the band geeks all reeled me in to their crowds at some point. Throughout my time in these various groups, I fought against my own personality, hoping to conform to what other expected of me.
Eventually, I got lost in a sea of lackluster. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I now had a few friends, though no one I would talk to about anything personal. I even had a group to sit with during lunch – but I was still lonely.
I had made a final resolution to put myself out there, no matter the repercussion. Along with my normal classes, I signed up for intramural soccer through the district as well as an anchor position on the high school morning show and a position on the leadership team that runs the show.
The first days are always the hardest. The same feeling hits me now, as the current leadership team bore their eyes into my downturned head. A deep breath and I turn my face back to theirs, locking eyes with the bearer of the question I have now been pondering for a decade. A feeling similar to that of an adrenaline rush hits me as I run my answer over my tongue. “I became me.”
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