There is something profound about that moment when you realize that you are not the person you thought you’d turn into; you are almost twenty-three, and you are nothing like the images you had of yourself at sixteen, seventeen, and even twenty. It is momentous, when the truth hits you with such force and shakes everything in its wake.
Outside, the soft pitter patter of rain was blanketed by the dark night; the first signal of hope against the prolonged California drought. Inside, my body shook uncontrollably as it released ugly, broken sounds from somewhere deep inside of me.
There I was in my dimly lit studio, a sobbing wreck at 2 AM.
“I don’t understand,” I typed, “How I turned out so differently.”
Sometimes I see girls from my childhood and distant past, and they are filled with sunshine and rainbows, attracting people like flies. They are forever at the receiving end of gushing compliments like “You are so beautiful!” or “Love you so much!” Other times I need not look far; I simply need to look to my right to the former desk mate, my best friend, and to the left, to Third Sis.
“I don’t understand,” I typed to Eldest Sis, in between incomprehensible sobs, “Why I turned out so differently.”
These girls view and carry themselves simplistically through life; they radiate optimism, and leave others yearning for a taste of their honey. They need not do anything and are loved exactly for being themselves. These girls are intelligent, beautiful, confident, and hold no traces of their past selves. They sound and look fabulous.
“I don’t understand,” I typed, “Why my perspectives are never simple.”
I am battling a fat phase; fifteen pounds heavier. My skin is terrible; the acne scars are frustratingly permanent. I am not pretty; I can’t remember the last time I have ever been complimented for my looks, because for some reason my supposed smartness is the one and only thing that defines me, like it’s therefore perfectly acceptable to acknowledge my physical unattractiveness. The voices in my mind won’t hush; thoughts run through my mind like bits and fragments of poetry. I love too deeply, feel too strongly, and hurt too destructively.
“I don’t understand,” my fingers moved furiously, “Why I am so internally complex.”
These are the girls for whom the sun shines just right – the sun’s ray hits them at just the right angle as they flash their megawatt smiles. Their smooth curls rest just right on their shoulders, and their lithe figures speak volume of their self-confidence.
“I don’t understand,” I typed, “What is the point of having so much confidence and acting so self-assured of myself, if I am the only one who notices my worth? How is a person special, if she is the only one who notices her charm?”
They are the sort of girls who have people to count and depend on – a few someones more than ready to catch them when they fall. These girls attract people like flies, and others are only too happy to be of service. They may or may not be aware of the charms they own, but they don’t take it for granted. They exude kindness, giving love as much as they receive. They are sunflowers and rainbows in someone’s stormy weather, while I am the cloud and fog of a brewing thunderstorm.
“I don’t understand,” I confessed, “What it is that I lack and which they have, because I don’t attract anyone. No one sees me in that way. I am a loyal friend, because the ones by my side are far and few. Sometimes it isn’t that I thrive in being alone because I like it – it’s because it is sink or swim. I am my knight in shining armor, the leading hero in my fictional story because this is what I’ve learned: if I don’t do my own saving, who will?”
These girls are unmarred by the pelts thrown their way; their glittery shine do not fade. They don’t reciprocate with anger towards the world, nor do they turn bitter and broken as a result. They radiate positivity, transform into epitome of female empowerment and the like. There is gentleness in their character, and toughness in their personality. Their voices are soft, but their resolute is firm.
“I don’t understand,” I admit in frustration, “Why I turn out hardened.”
I am that girl, always, who is passed over by girls like them. No one does a double take when I walk past, but the moment I am walking with the best friend, the sister, the friends – heads turn their way. The outcome always plays out this way. I am the girl friend, the oldest friend, the buddy, the everything but; I am bypassed, always, the moment they catch a glimpse of the sunny radiance of the other girls. If smartness is attractive, then I’m not testament. If deeper conversations are appreciated, then I have never experienced it to know its truth. If stars align beyond the physical, then I am a lost constellation. Where is the fault in my stars?
“I don’t understand,” I typed, “My shout is not a whimper, yet I am the only one who can hear my roar. I have come to love myself for who I am, yet it always feels like I am the only one who notices my worth.”
I am the wandering friend, that unmarked piece in a puzzle known as belonging. I am the perpetual observer; the outsider, looking in. Nothing lasts forever, and no one seems to stay for the long-term. I hold my heart on my sleeves, but there are no takers.
“I don’t understand,” I typed, sobbing furiously, “Why I turned out so differently.”