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I Wore a Mask And My Face Grew To Fit It
Gently, he held her by the hand as she spun around like a ballerina. One spin, two spins, three spins, then she was back in his arms again. An elegant dip, a smile, a laugh, a hug, they danced as easily and as beautifully as the snow dances down from the clouds. And they had never even rehearsed. The rhythm of the music seemed to course through the couple’s entire bodies, moving them like puppets along the floor. Her fake tiara and glittery sash shimmered under the neon strobe lights. Everyone circled around and watched. Except me.
I was the wallflower, the jealous wallflower. I had spent all night wanting to be her. To be where she is. To have what she had. It’s not fair. I thought to myself, If I looked like her, acted like her and did the things she does, he would like me too. But he would never take the time to accept me the way I am; the way he did for her. I’m a book with an interesting story, not just a pretty cover. So why didn’t he choose me instead?
As I gazed on with tears flooding my eyes, my heart sank deeper and deeper. At that moment I felt like I had a greater chance of being struck by lightning than getting a date with him. I was a nobody. Just a face in the crowd. I would’ve been amazed if he knew my name. Or even knew I existed.
He was one of those easy to like kind of guys. The kind with tons of friends. And I was one of those hard to notice kind of girls. The kind with maybe 3 friends on a good day. I was too shy to be as bubbly and outgoing as his date. However, I was still a person. A person not much different from her. Does anyone know that?
The crowd burst into applause. She hugged him one last time. He grasped her hand, carefully yet firm, and they hurried out of the middle of the circle. For what seemed a fraction of a second, he looked at me. Chills ran through my body like an electric pulse, numbing my fingertips and turning my legs into jell-o. I waved. But he didn’t wave back. He was never even looking at me. I felt so stupid. Am I invisible… or what? I couldn’t take that feeling anymore. I had to change. I had to be like her.
A few months later, I wasn’t me anymore. I had been reshaped, conformed, transformed, made new. My mindset did a 180. At school, I now lived to impress. Impress my friends, the ‘popular’ kids, the teachers, my parents, have the best clothes, grades, and game. It wasn’t easy and it was never fun. I was constantly afraid that if I didn’t laugh at certain jokes and not laugh at others, that if I didn’t look my best or tell the best stories, or that if I didn’t have more friends than the sky has stars, then no one would accept me. I would still be a loser.
I started getting noticed more often. People actually like me now! I was speaking up in class, going to more social events and even lying a little so that my life always sounded fun and exciting. My real friends knew better though. Every once in a while they would say something like “There’s something different about you this year.” or “Are you okay? You’re acting a little different.” When I answered them I always tried to sound ignorant. As if I had no idea I wasn’t being myself.
Gradually my real friends started to detach themselves from me. Slowly but surely going a different direction. I had no doubt that they were doing it deliberately. They knew I had become a fake and I knew they didn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore.
Whenever a Friday night came around, I would ask them if they wanted to go to the movies or come over and hang out just like we had always done. But they would say no. Some days they would swear to me they were busy and had no free time to spend with friends. But the next day or so, I would find out they had all been together. Having a great time. A great time without me.
At first, I was confused. Why do my best friends treat me just like my new friends used to? I thought they accepted me for who I am. Then it became clear. The realization of my problem hit me head on like a train rolling over a June bug; It brought me back down to earth and made me remember the true colors inside me. This isn’t the real me.
I went to my friends the next day at school and apologized. I told them I had made a mistake and promised I wouldn’t lie to look better than I am anymore. Or lie to look better than them. “You don’t have to lie to make people appreciate you.” they told me. “Its always better to be yourself and be liked by the people that really matter than to fake everything and be liked by people who don’t matter.”
Now, I realize just how right they were about that. I was so worried about how others saw me and what they thought of me that I decided to wear a mask so tight, it grew to fit me. Thankfully, with the help of some real friends, who accept me for the person I am deep down, I got it off. Now I’ll never put one on again.