I want to be anyone but me.
I hate being introverted.
I hate the shiver of anxiety I get when I talk to someone new.
I hate the fact that I can’t talk and be bubbly for as long as I want to.
I hate that social interaction makes me feel like my cells are withering after an hour or so.
I hate that people think I hate people. I don’t. I just hate the feeling I get when around too many people for too long.
I hate people drawing me out of my book to talk to me. Just, please. Can I have a little bit of peace?
I hate the fact that my mother thinks I have a mental disorder because I don’t want to be around people all the time.
I hate how she puts me down and hits me because I had a mental breakdown after a day of work and university.
I hate that no-one around me understands.
I hate that the people who ‘get it’ are in books or on the internet.
I hate that I can’t live my life in a hut somewhere on a remote island and just live on wild plants and read and write everyday.
I hate the fact that I completely understand why Emily Dickinson became a recluse.
I hate knowing that so many careers are closed off because I can’t stand extended periods of social interaction.
I hate that the only times I am happy are when I am reading or daydreaming.
I hate feeling so out of place. Everyone seems to be swirling around in the maelstrom of life while I teeter on the edge of it, an observer, peering into the dark, thrashing masses and trying to make sense of it all and never succeeding.
I hate having to please and satisfy the social demands of extroverts.
I hate feeling shame for stealing away to be by myself.
I hate people’s reactions when they find me, all alone with my thoughts, happy as a breeze, in some corner. Why the pity and scorn? Why? I’m not weird just because I’m not mingling. Stop it. Stop making me feel like nothing.
I hate introversion being mistook for submissiveness. Especially since I’m a feminist. They. Are. Not. The. Same. Thing.
I hate having to keep quiet in class even when I know the answer to the question the teacher is proposing, simply because it uses up too much of my socializing battery to speak, my voice echoing through the room, everyone watching, everyone listening.
I hate knowing that I could be a great English teacher but being barred by my introversion. Teaching? Got first-hand experience. Could I do it? For years and years and years? Day in, day out, laughter, chatter, talking, talking, talking, students, teachers. Help.
I hate being highly sensitive.
I hate that I can’t stand next a busy highway without wanting to curl into a ball and wail because of the noise.
I hate that I pick up on everything, social cues, gestures, until I convince myself that everyone hates me.
I hate that I can’t stand my raucous students after thirty minutes.
I hate having to leave the room to go to the bathroom when a bloody or violent and frightening scene appears in a movie and seeing the derisive glances of my friend, ‘Oh, what a wimp, what a soft, weak, little, fragile thing.’
I hate having to move to a different seat in the classroom with everyone watching my migration because one of the fluorescent bulbs above me is flashing.
I hate that I feel like crying if someone looks at me the wrong way.
I hate replaying every social situation or blunder or painful experience from the day. Over and over again. Like a tumor I can’t rip out.
I hate the fact that my own mother doesn’t understand and in her fits of frustration at my sensitivity (life is hard for everyone! Pick yourself up! Why are you crying just because you’re tired of noise and people and talking? What’s wrong with you? You have a mental disorder. SHUT UP. It’s not sensitivity. Don’t use it as an excuse. You’re lazy and didn’t get enough sleep. You’re useless. How do you expect to survive in the workforce? Whack. Slap.) Her physical assaults only sting but the emotional pain burrows deep inside my soul.
I hate being an extreme right brain thinker.
I hate not being practical.
I hate having my head up in the clouds so people think I’m either crazy or weird. Or both.
I hate liking the humanities more than the math and sciences. Math and science are practical. They will get me a ‘proper job.’ It’s where the money is, darling. Now go and study those scrawling numbers that are like barbed wires sticking into your brain, prodding and churning it into a grey mush.
I hate how I’m not suited for any job in the world except being a writer. That’s going to pay the mortgage, isn’t it? Sitting at my desk, typing words, not knowing if I’m just fooling myself and not selling any stories. Not to mention the self-doubt. Besides, your parents will need you to support them, one day. Give up your dreams. Stop being fucking foolish.
I hate people making me feel dumb for liking the soft subjects, the arts, literature, philosophy, anthropology, history. I’m sorry, okay? My brain just isn’t intelligent enough to chew through quantum physics and calculus. And I’d rather die a million horrible deaths than force myself to study them because something deep within me roars and screams and tears at its rib cage enclosure when I do, screaming to me that I’m wasting my time, my life, my abilities, that I’m trying to sieve cement, that I hate this so much, all these dead numbers and formulas, that the only way I could ever push through it is if I daydream and imagine the numbers coming to life and peeling away from the page and pirouetting across the ceiling, telling me about what life is like in a textbook and the students they meet everyday.
I hate that I don’t like the practical subjects, which means I can’t get a practical jobs, which means I’ll be poor forever. Or so they say. Or so my mother says, with her disappointed glare. Only my mother can look both disappointed and affronted at the same time.
I hate my mother’s wrath when I told her in high school that I wanted to drop math. I hated her threats. I hated her telling me I was her only hope and that if I didn’t study some practical subjects, she would die in poverty. Did I want to do that? Her own mother? Sell your soul with a smile, dear.
I hate having weird, off-beat thoughts. I hate having once made the mistake of voicing them once. I hated the judgmental stares and the silence.
I hate feeling like such a freak in a left-brain society. I hate the fact that health and engineering and accounting or whatever are where the jobs are and the art courses are being cut back at universities every year. Arts degree? Pffft. Hope your parents are rich. Literature and writing is a luxury, darling. First, go off and study something practical, like pharmacy. Then you can save up money to dabble in your quaint, little writing hobby. Besides, who knows if you’re good enough to make it? Don’t take the risk. You’re probably not good enough. Only one in a billion make it. You can’t make it.
Money. Love. Money. Love. ‘Money!’ they scream, gold fever fizzling in eyes, lips stretched wide and teeth whisked with gleams, a billion faces, clutching banknotes and throwing them like green birds into the air. Love. Love? It’s a job, honey. You’re not meant to love it. A starving, disheveled writer at his desk in a garret, nibbling on a piece of bread and fighting for crumbs with the rats. Now, now, you wouldn’t want that would you? That’s it, get in line, become a good, hardworking citizen of society. Join the ranks! Collect your retirement money. Live for the weekends. Don’t think too much. They say that helps.
‘She was such a quiet, strange child,’ said Society.
‘Oh, yes. In kindergarten, wouldn’t talk to or play with any of the other kids. Best friend was a cat.’
‘I’ll say. And she reads, all the time. And she always looks off into space. She gives me the creeps, to be honest.’
‘What does she want to be when she grows up?’
‘Ha! Get a load of this. A writer. The stupid flake wants to be a writer. When her parents are in a state of such indigence. Irresponsible. Flighty. Morose.’
‘Does she need to see a doctor? We can book a psychiatrist for her. There’s something terribly wrong. Yes. Not quite right in the head.’
‘Yes,’ says Society, and pats the heads of laughing, gaggling children.
I hate me.