www.whyville.net Jul 3, 2005 Weekly Issue

Veteran Writer

Growing Up

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People say a lot of things. In my waking moments, I'm told that I can do anything that I want with my life. My parents tell me that they're proud of me no matter what I do. My teachers tell me that everyone is equal. Everyone is good at something.

They used to tell me that. I grew so accustomed to hearing it. And then one day it stopped.

You think that when sound stops there is silence. Emptiness. Instead, the voices change. They tell you how important it is to do well. At everything. Failure is some unspeakable taboo, but I'm mentioning it now to you.

I remember being five years old. I could count my age with the fingers on one hand. Now, I can solve complex mathematical equations involving imaginary numbers that don't exist and I can prove to you that the thumb really is a finger. I remember what a challenge it was to remember what came after two, and after three, what came next? But now it's important to learn the characteristics of Prorifera and Echninoderma.

The challenge is not remembering so much as feeling alone. Everyone around me knows what comes after two, and someone was always there to help you. But my father's not a mathematician -- he can't tell me how to convert the point-slope form of a line into standard form. He looks at me with that blank look on his face and I know I've been left to fend for myself once more.

I remember being seven years old. Everyone had boyfriends. We used to treat them like slaves. And they changed from day to day. It was all about the status. The power.

I sit and look around me and I see these faces and I know that this hasn't really changed... except things are about emotion now. People are too emotional. They cry about their how their boyfriend dumped them, even though they've only been dating for two weeks. They cry when the guy they say they love doesn't love them back. I cry because there's no one. No one holds my hands. Kisses me goodnight. I feel so alone.

I remember in the sixth grade when we all did air bands. The coolest girls in the class knew the all the lyrics to all of the popular songs. They had these awesome dance moves that I could never imitate. Instead, I designed the clothes. They looked forward to such cool careers. Everyone dreams about being a celebrity, doing something fun and rewarding. I'll never be a celebrity.

I'm expected to study law. Or science. Or medicine. Those things involve work. They're no fun. But those are the jobs that the intelligent people fill in society. They contribute things to the world. I wish I could tell someone I didn't want to be smart. I don't want to study law or science or medicine. But who can I tell?

I remember just graduation just two years later. It wasn't graduation. They called it a "farewell." I felt so smart because I always knew the answers. Everyone came to me. Sometimes I wish I was still with those people.

Instead, I left them behind because they weren't good enough. And now I'm stuck in this sea where I don't stand out at all. I sit in the back row, never answering questions that are asked. Never doing more than required. I used to try but now I feel as there's nothing special about me. No one praises me. I flounder. People try to help me and I feel suffocated because I want to be independent. But I don't want to be alone.

And now there's this awkward phase. I'm not an adult, but people treat me like one when it conveniences them. But never when it conveniences me.

I think despicable things that no one can hear. No one suspects. I envision myself screaming obscenities at the stop of my longs are my mother looks on in horror. I imagine yelling things about myself that I know or true that I've never told anyone. But I'm sure you can imagine what they are.

I imagine telling someone. But just thinking of these things makes me tired. Physically exhausted and mentally spent.

For once, I'm glad there's only me.

Bigfoot's Note: Be excellent to each other, I say to everyone -- and that means to yourself, too. That means a lot of things, really, and it includes being good to yourself when you need it, and also being hard and challenging to yourself when you need it.

You feel alone, Giggler, I know. You're not. In the end, you are not alone. Even when you've argued with someone, been hurt by them and hurt them back, it doesn't mean they stop supporting you and wishing the best of the world for you, and wishing that you make the best of yourself for the world, too.

Be well, Jenn. Goodbye.


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