Listen

January 13, 2010
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Suffocating. Feeling like you’re trapped and there’s no way for you to escape. You’re trying everything you can, you’re giving it all your best but your best just isn’t good enough. It seems like no matter how hard you try, you’ll always be stuck here; you’ll always be paddling around in circles or clawing at the walls. It all feels the same. The monotony is killing you, your helplessness to feel anything but desperate and hopeless.
You think of those less privileged than yourself and try to be optimistic. At least you have a house, you have a family, you have food to eat. And yet this doesn’t shake the constant feeling of disappointment you feel lurking within you. You can’t satisfy yourself. You never feel like you’re proud of anything, or like you’re going to get anywhere. Swimming in circles, over and over, clawing at walls.
Bliss an emotion you can’t remember feeling. Sheer, stupid joy; it seems like an impossible concept. What can you do to save yourself from this ceaseless sorrow and self-pity? How do you boost your self esteem to make yourself feel like you matter? You know your problems shouldn’t be a big deal, but they still affect you. You won’t tell anyone because if you don’t think your problems matter, why should they? They wouldn’t understand.
Sometimes they ask you, ‘what’s wrong?’ and you smile and say, ‘nothing.’ You wish they would look you in the eye and reply by telling you, ‘don’t lie to me.’ But then you feel bad about wishing that, because they have their own lives to worry about. You don’t want to bother them. They have other friends who they want to talk to, they’re busy, they have their own lives. They have to deal with money, tests, homework, work, school… they don’t have time to juggle you as well. You’re better off suffering quietly.
So that’s what you do.
You hear them laugh at lunch and you smile from where you sit in the corner, if only to feel included. You’re not really sure if any of them would even notice if you disappeared, but that’s alright, because you know you don’t really matter all that much anyway. You’re not important enough to be included, or cool enough to be cared about, or fun enough to be around. You’ll sit here though, because if you do then you’re less likely to look like a loner. If you’re a loner people ask you if you’re alright, and it’s embarrassing to seem like you’re not; if you’re not okay, you’re not normal, because they’re all okay, right?
They continue to talk amongst themselves. You suddenly decide the lunchroom is too loud. You want somewhere quiet to be alone. You head off to the library. No one’s ever there.
Once you’ve found yourself a small, secluded corner, you sit against the wall. You feel almost like you might cry, but it’s been a long time since you cried. You’re too old for that. You’ll just wait here for lunch to finish and stay out of everyone’s way.
After some time has passed, movement in the corner of your eye suddenly catches your attention. A little surprised, you tear your gaze away from the book shelf in front of you and look up at the newcomer. You’re a little surprised to see that it’s one of your friends. Why are they here? Sometimes they ask you where you’re going, but they never follow.
“Hey,” he says, offering a warm smile, again taking you by surprise.
“Uhm, hi?” You reply, sounding confused and feeling a little embarrassed that he’s found you curled up like this. “Do you want something?” You’re being rather rude, but you can’t help it. You feel defensive about being caught alone and looking antisocial.
There is no verbal response, but he comes over and sits down beside you. You watch him, confused all the while. What does he want? For a few moments he does nothing but sit there. The silence in the air is awkward. And then…
“Are you alright?” The question catches you off guard, although it should not have.
“Yes,” you reply nonchalantly, dismissing his concern, for it was concern. He didn’t seem like the others, who only asked because they wanted something to speak about. He seemed like he was really concerned. Still, you hope that he’ll leave. You don’t want to bother him with your problems.
He turns to look at you, and you can’t help but glance over to him as well. Your gaze meets his. What does he want?
“Don’t lie to me.” You stare at him, stunned. He’s seen past your carefully constructed mask. He’s paused to take an interest in you.
A smile suddenly breaks out on your face.
“Thank you.”





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