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Sonia wasn’t the best. She was never the best. Never the best in class. Never the fastest runner. Never the one to stand out.
Sure, she tried to break the pattern. Lot’s of times. She tried studying.
“Wow.” Her friend’s mouth dropped open as she examined her exam mark. “I got perfect!”
Silently, Sonia studied her own. She got 75%.
“And I didn’t even study at all!” Her friend turned to her eagerly. “How did you do, Sonia?”
Sonia forced a smile, laughing. “Just okay I guess.”
Her friend grinned back. “As usual, right?”
Sonia loved running. It was her favourite pastime, growing up around boys and playing running games.
“Ready! Set…go!” She took off running, grinning as she took an early lead. Maybe this time, just this time, she would get it. Maybe she’d make it into the track and field team.
After the race, Sonia went to check her rank overall in people who tried out. Her mouth fell open as she realized she was third to last. The people she had went against in her own individual race were all the slowest.
So Sonia decided to step away from the competitive sports side and jump into non-physical activities. So, she tried out for jobs. She never got called for an interview, and her phone calls were never returned. When she did get the interview, for a summer camp, she didn’t get it.
She went for an interview to join the Student Council, not for a big position, but just for a small helping position. She wasn’t accepted.
Her parents told her, “At least you tried. At least you tried your best.”
So she tried, and tried, and tried again and again, and after awhile, she couldn’t help but wonder…when would her best be enough? Deep down, she knew that even her parents were disappointed in her lack of good grades and success. She knew that she was a failure when all of those around her moved up. Could she ever be something worth it? Was she even worth anything?
Sonia loved playing the piano. Like thousands of others in her city. She started playing late. She was lower then others of her age, but she still loved it. She loved making people smile when the recognized her song, loved it when people sang along. She loved it when people loved the music she made as much as she did playing it. She wanted to start a career in music.
But she couldn’t. How easy was it to get into the music industry when you weren’t the best? “Impossible.” Said her parents. So music became a hobby. Nothing more.
Sonia loved cooking. She could bake cakes, brownies, cookies, all types of sweets. She gave them away once she did and was happy when people savoured her food, calling it delicious. But ingredients were scarce, and her parents never did like it when she cooked. So the first time she failed, she stopped altogether. After all, her parents didn’t like it.
Sonia loved kids. She liked it because they were so easy to make happy, and when they were happy, she was too. But her friends and family told her, “Teaching is a back up plan. Not a dream.” So she crushed it. And turned that dream into a back up plan.
Someone told her once, “Why do you listen to them? Why don’t you just do what you want?” She told the person back,
“If I can’t trust what my parents tell me to do, who do I trust?”
“How about yourself?”
“But I don’t trust myself.”
Sonia loved to make people smile. She liked that she could affect a person enough to bring out emotion, to make them happy too. She liked feeling happy. It felt nice, even though it was scarce. She hated it when she was the one to bring a person down. So she smiled all the time, so that no one would worry, so that no one would ask her, “Why are you sad?”, and soon, that became her Normal. If she was sad, if she even stopped smiling or laughing once, people would think something was wrong. So her face cheerful everyday. To keep in the sadness.
Sonia was tired of smiling.