Voice above the “echo”es

Nobody is born complete. The experiences we encounter throughout our lives are what shape our form and breathe life into our identities. Invariably, everyone has an inner demon they must confront in their childhood that ultimately shifts the current of their worldview.

My inner demon sprung up in middle school, catching me by my toes just as I was entering puberty. Those years were an especially awkward period for me. I still went about my daily life as I had done in elementary school: I followed the school dress code consisting of a white collared shirt and wore baggy blue jeans, unlike the ones that other girls wore that tapered to their thin, supple calves. All the girls around me grew their hair into long, luscious locks that they could run their fingers in for miles.

I was aloof to what was considered fashionable at the time, but after awhile, I started to realize I was sticking out like a sore thumb. With my strange, unfashionable getup and unsociable nature, my self-confidence started to plummet as acne began springing up across my forehead like cabbage patches. An immeasurable sense of loneliness started to surround me.

Looking at others having fun with their friends reminded me of my own solace, but I still could not take my eyes off of them. I yearned for a sense of belonging, to mix in with the rest of the students, seamlessly weave in and out of conversations with others, and have fun.

All around me, I bore witness to the blossoming friendships and joyous memories of others while I had none to call my own. Activities in physical education class always required us to form pairs or groups. I did not talk to anyone in my class, so I was fearful every time the teacher granted us the opportunity to pick our own groups. Walk up to the teacher, explain to her that you cannot find a group, and she would then place you in one. This would happen over and over again, and each and every time I had to do this, my insecurities would balloon and pop in my face. I would imagine the other students giving me mixed looks of pity and contempt, and felt that I could not measure up to the eyes of other people. I thought my life was worthless, and I was so miserable in school. At night, I wondered if anyone would miss me if I disappeared.

In hindsight, this period of my life was simply a trial I had to overcome. I forced myself to become more adaptable in social situations and encouraged myself to think more positively. Relying on only myself and my own willpower, I lifted myself off the ground.

Even though it has been years since, the insecurities of that time still reside within me. I am fearful of exclusion, and anxiety would heighten up in me whenever I feel that I am at risk of being left alone. Life is filled with challenges, and they will never stop coming.

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