I hated school.
I was a good student, but I did it all with gritted teeth and vindictive fury towards the entire education system that valued obedience and memorization and class participation rather than free-thinking, creativity and introspection.
Primary school was alright.
One, there weren’t any academic pressures.
Two, I was oblivious about being ostracized socially and spent a good deal of my time, all alone, cooped up in the school library. And that made me happy. This was back when libraries were still quiet. The world seems to get noisier every day.
Three, I still hadn’t faced my individuality. Basically, every time I felt a disconnect with my inner self and my surroundings, I ignored the discord and simply molded my mind and thoughts to fit in with others. Dialogue of moi rejecting myself:
What? This conversation is shallow. I don’t care about sport. I don’t care about what you are going to wear to the party. Why am I smiling so hard, why does it hurt so much, like my face is plastic being stretched? No, no, just smile, be happy, why isn’t this making you happy, something must be wrong with you, talk, talk, TALK. Be normal. SMILE.
But highschool. Highschool. That hellhole sure topped the cake.
Highschool was perdition. I felt like I was being scorched every day. My self-esteem and my sanity were being burnt off, slice by slice, until I was left raw, exposed, a twitching mass of muscle that frittered its way from class to class like a robot on overdrive. Mouth clanking open into smiles. Talking until my cells withered from exhaustion. People, everywhere. I felt like a sardine crammed into a tin case, the oiliness clogging up my brain and my lungs. And the libraries were noisy! Full of gaggling students. My haven was gone. My soul was left homeless. People had even desecrated this? They had already taken almost everything I held dear. But now, they had taken away this? This glorious depository of literature?
No-one understood me in highschool. I repeat, no-one. Sure, I had a couple of nice, sort of close friends. But they had barely scratched the surface of who I was. No matter how hard I tried to be genuine, I always tried to present a façade. Partially because I wasn’t sure who the real me was. Partially because I wasn’t sure I could express the real me through oral communication when written communication is a medium I feel far more comfortable in. Partially because I knew that people would not accept the weird, quirky, eccentric me and that even if I revealed that part of me, they would not understand. Different wavelengths with different signals can’t communicate. I do not mean that in an egotistic way. I just mean that I was different. It was like trying to cram two jigsaw puzzles together when they obviously don’t fit. You can’t make a picture, no matter how hard you yearn for completeness.
I was pretty much a loner. I hate to use that word, as it has such a negative connotation, as many adjectives describing introverted and sensitive people do (touchy, anti-social, quiet, boring) but I was. I drifted away from my group of ‘friends’ because I felt no personal connection with them. All my conversations with them were held on an entirely superficial level, they didn’t like or understand me and I was wasting my break times in pleasing them, being this artificial, extroverted clown, painting a red smile and hoping it would not crack and splinter into a bloodied grin.
So, I spent my lunchtimes alone. I hid from people, in whatever nook and crannies I could find in the school, retreating into books, my own thoughts, music, because I was so socially drained. I feel energy sapping away from me just by being in a room of people. It makes me feel self-conscious and insecure. And some people might say this is because I have no confidence. But since when did confidence equate with extroversion?
The worst part of highschool was my jealousy. I didn’t understand why it was so unfair. These laughing, happy, chatty people were incredibly happy. And they fit in with society. I wasn’t happy fitting in. But I felt ostracized, jeered at, demeaned and lonely when I was being true to myself and catering to my introverted needs. I had a lose-lose situation. They had a win-win situation. What could I do? Wasn’t I stuck?
I still struggle with this. Highschool isn’t the end of social situations. All of society is a swirling pot of interaction. Some bob and float to the top, happy as can be, while others sink.
I sink. I sink everyday. I sink to my watery death, hair trailing, fingers scrabbling at the water like frantic spiders, mouth open in a horrible, drowning gargle.
So this is what I grasp onto when I feel terrible about myself. When I feel like no-one in real life understands me or accepts me. When I sing songs and cry to myself because a lack of validation, a lack of belonging, is a starvation of the soul and I’m so hungry for people to see and understand me. Me. This essence in this flesh-sac. I retreat into my imagination:
One day, I’m going to have a small cottage, near nature, a bubbling brook, a grove of trees, away from civilization, remote. The entire house will be converted into a library. I will sleep on a bed constructed of books. I will read to my hearts content and write everyday. I will have a bevy of felines to comfort me. I will grow my own garden, to sustain myself. And no-one can bother me there. I will create my own validation, through my words, my imaginings. I will validate myself. I will create a place where I belong myself. I will shape my own reality.
And maybe, one day, I will float.