So I just got done watching this show on A&E called “Beyond Scared Straight.” There have been a thousand like it – some troubled, Maury-style teenagers get sent to a prison for a day in the hope that they’ll be so terrified of the people there that they stop acting up. On this episode, about seven or eight girls were sent over for an assortment of problems like underage drinking, smoking, drugs, fighting, stealing, and gang-related violence/activity. The oldest was 17, and the youngest was 13. It sort of makes me think about what I was doing between 13 and 17.
Because it sure as hell wasn’t any of that.
When I was 13 years old, I hated myself and was scared of my own shadow. I felt like everyone in school around me was somehow better than me, somehow prettier and more worthy of friendship and attention, and the harder I tried to be cool, the more pathetic I appeared. In retrospect, I realize that they didn’t see me as an ugly, lame nerd at all – that was just me. The pretty, popular girls only looked at me funny because I was trying so hard to be something I obviously wasn’t. I remember crying one time, surrounded by all those girls, trying to explain to them how it worked: they were popular, and I was a loser.
They tried hard to understand, but it’s obvious to me now that they clearly had no idea what I was talking about. They genuinely didn’t see it that way, and they were right. If I was a loser, it was because I was putting down who I really was and was instead trying to reach some bizarre ideal that was not only unattainable, but undesirable.
Thanks, girls. If I ever run into any of you again, I hope we can talk like normal human beings.
But if I had continued on that road, trying to be cool or whatever, I undoubtedly would have ended up a drunk, cracked out loser. I mean, I was a stressed young lady. I had all these preconceived notions and ideas about what I was supposed to be and to be honest, I have no idea where they came from. I think I made them up. I don’t know why I felt that way.
I never tried a drug in my life, though, never got drunk at a party, never shoplifted and never got in a fight. I wasn’t trying super hard to be a ‘good girl.’ I just kept to myself so much, where would I even GET drugs? What party would I ever be ballsy enough to go to? What the hell is important enough for me to steal and if I don’t have many friends, how many ENEMIES can I have? Say what you want about being a loner, but if I weren’t, I bet I would have done some of those things. I have no problem with occasional recreational marijuana use, and a party on the weekends or what-have-you, as long as you’re smart.
But if I had been more social when I was 13, and gone to those parties, done those drugs? I bet it would have gotten out of hand. I would have done anything for people to like me. Being a loner saved my ass.
I remember going into high school in the same sorry state I spent middle school in. 13 years old going on 14, I was still scared of the popular people (for the record, I sort of picked and chose who was ‘popular’, as there weren’t really any set parameters regarding the title) and when people were mean to me, I crumpled up like a water bottle in a pressure chamber.
Then 10th grade came.
I wish I knew what caused it, but to this day it seems completely random. I went into school in 10th grade with a completely different personality. I won’t name names, but let me tell you about this chick Claire.
She was in my choir class and she was a class-act ho. She dyed her hair so much it crinkled when she walked and was constantly dripping dollar store makeup, followed by a posse of two clones so she looked like Draco Malfoy after a bad sex change. She was AWFUL to me. She knew that I’d cry (don’t feed the trolls!) so she kept doing it. It was pretty terrible. My entire Freshman year was spent hating that chick and not having the guts to do anything about it.
In tenth grade I was in Choir again, same people, including Claire, Crabbe, and Goyle. So I’m sitting against the wall with my friend, laughing about something or other, and Clairebear comes up to me, one hand on her hip like she just had it replaced, her lips all pouty as if she spent so much time waving her skinny butt in front of breeding males that they got stuck that way, and made some mean comment to me. I don’t even remember what she said, but it was clearly some cruel thing meant to upset me. I looked over at my friend and stared at her for about fifteen seconds. Slow smiles spread over our faces, until all at once, we burst into a paroxysm of laughter.
I remember Claire staring at us like we were total loons, then realizing that we were laughing at HER. She turned beet red and walked away. She never talked to me again.
That year, I was suddenly confident. I was a nerd and I loved it. I didn’t wear makeup but that was cool. I had dorks for friends but I loved them too, and most of all, I didn’t give two shits what those chicks over there thought of me. It happened almost literally overnight. If there was any chance, any at all, that I’d turn into some drug-addicted shoplifting alcoholic, it ended with the beginning of 10th grade.
Am I perfect? No! I’m still neurotic beyond words, I still have issues and second-guess myself and I’m still scared of a lot of things. But I’m at least functional now, which is nice. I’ve always been late to the party – I only listen to bands after they’re not cool anymore, I wait for movies to go to OnDemand, and I figure out the joke ten seconds after everyone else. I guess it took me a little longer to grow a spine, too. So, knowing that, I know that no matter what issues I have to face, I’ll face them… eventually.
Having failed enormously at not eating meat and exercising yesterday (notice how I didn’t update the exercise section?) I plan on starting today! I did not eat any meat today, which isn’t very hard for me. As for the exercise, I started out on Wii fit by getting my weight taken as well as what they call a ‘Wii Fit Age,’ an almost randomly assigned number that attempts to pinpoint how old you are based on your fitness level.
I’m apparently 23.
I also weight 170 lbs – ugh! Oh well, I’ll just have to fix it. Off to start my exercises – wish me luck!
UPDATE: *huff… puff… wheeze… gulp water…* In retrospect, maybe an hour a day was a bit much for me! I managed a half hour, so let’s just do that until I’m more comfortable? Okay? Okay. *faints*