I Can Lift A Car

August 10, 2014
When I was thirteen years old I realized something monumentally important for me, and something that has always defined me subconsciously. In my room, I typed away at my computer as a tear dripped ever-so-slowly down my cheek, and another one quickly followed. The tiny speaker I had blasted Walk the Moon’s I Can Lift A Car, on repeat over and over again, because it was this song that changed so much. Two days prior to this, I heard the band preform in concert with hundreds of other people, and before the band began to play, the lead singer asked us to think of all of the bad thoughts and feelings we had acquired recently, to bring them into a ball of hatred in our chests once we had all of them. Then, with a flurry of hand motions, he told us to take them and imagine they were rising up, up out of us onto the ceiling. The most of the audience did as he asked, hand motions and all, myself included. Suddenly, in the midst of all these people, I felt free, so completely and utterly free. And for that night I stopped feeling so devastatingly terrible. Only minutes before I was putting myself down and saying I was terrible for so many reasons—I was a bad daughter to my hardworking and tired parents; I was a bad friend because I neglected to invite my friend to this concert and the one prior, not to mention the other friend I probably devastated with my accidental-rumor spreading. But this crowd of people didn’t know how cruel I was to others. And they most certainly didn’t care. Strangers made me feel better than my own family; they made me feel better than my friends. But it was my family and friends who made me realize that, when it comes down to it, there is no one for you to depend on except for yourself. You have to be strong and independent, because everyone will either hurt you, or you will hurt them.

To explain my friends, and the eventual reasons why I came to my enlightenment, I have to explain to you that my friends aren’t all friends with each other. I find that I have three different groups of people—some of them of them overlap, and others are polar opposites. They aren’t very large groups, some being considerably smaller than others. In my eighth grade year, I sat at lunch with my main friend group at the time. There were six girls including me, and we came from both of the two homerooms in the eighth grade class. We certainly had varied interests, but we were friends nonetheless. Around December, the teasing began. I think all friends tend to make fun of each other. And that’s how it started. But eventually, I had no comebacks to what they said, I started to realize that some girls there liked others better than me, and that kind of hurt, considering that I was always a good friend to most of these people. What really stung, was that how it started with one girl who I didn’t really hang out with much before, and then, continued to one who had called me one of her best friends. And I’d already discussed with her how I didn’t care about friendly teasing—neither of us did.

At this point, however, I was the brunt of everyone’s jokes. Even when someone defended me, sometimes they’d join in the next day. And I don’t think they noticed what they did, it was all in good fun, or maybe it was a way for them to let off steam. But it hurt, so much eventually, and it lasted throughout the year. The thing to know about girls (and I suppose everyone, really) is that the majority of them are, in fact, backstabbers. They act incredibly nice and normal, and the next moment they’re saying something so incredibly vindictive about you that they can’t even brush it off as friendly joking around, so they do it behind your back. And quite possibly, the worst is when you tell someone something, and they go and tell it to someone, inexplicably causing incredible amounts of drama and anguish. One day after graduation practice, my friend told me that the two main instigators of my being made fun of had said behind my back that my braid looked absolutely awful, saying that it was too big, that I had the wrong hair to do that. If you looked around at the practice, almost every girl had her hair in a braid, because it was the easiest for the practice. The words hit me like a sharp knife and I couldn’t understand how my friends could say this, potentially in front of a large majority of my peers. And it was baffling to me as to how it was any of their business of what I did with my hair. Even when people criticize celebrities and others, I try to stay out of it—I despise criticism, and it makes it all the worse when, on top of all of your existing issues, people have such negative things to say about you. Not everyone has the same mindset as me, I guess. And I know exactly how stupid it sounds that I’m so insulted by the hair comment, but this was the last straw for me. I prided myself on not caring about what my friends said as long as they were joking or trying to help me, on not caring about the tiny things that would cause bucket loads of issues if you brought them up. But when you’re badgered each day about something in your appearance or the way you act when those are things you really cannot change, your walls fall down, slowly at first, but then they crash down all around, leaving you to clean up the rubble with a hole in your heart and a vulnerable mind reminding you each day that you are not worthy, you are not pretty, you are not special, and the one that I told myself the most: no one cares about you.

It was at this time that my dad started going through chemotherapy and radiation after being diagnosed with cancer, meaning that there was stress on everyone in my family. My dad lashed out, getting angry at the smallest things because of how the treatments had altered his brain. My mom had to work extra hours and still take care of us because my dad could not. My brother acted like he didn’t care about my dad, about his diagnosis, and remained, as I remember, slightly stuck up and snobbier than before. My parents told me that was his way of coping. I can’t really say how I was acting differently, but I know that I was probably moodier than usual. I had a lot of stress on my plate; I was trying desperately to get into a specialized high school, keep up my grades, write a faith statement, discover if I really wanted to be confirmed, and try and gather enough information to pass a German education exam even though I missed a majority of my classes because of my father’s illness. I cried often, worrying about all sorts of things, from my overworked mom to the possibility that my dad could die. I leaned on my mom, and sometimes my dad, but I didn’t like crying in front of them so much-- I didn’t want them to worry. I always thought that I’d be a nuisance, that’s why I didn’t go to the guidance counselor, any of my teachers, or my friends. Maybe if I had gone to someone, I’d be different. I’d have more faith in people. But I didn’t, and I learned in what I believe is the easy way, because if I put my trust in others, I’d still get hurt. I’d tell my friends my problems and they wouldn’t really care and they’d forget about my issues, going back to making fun of me. Everyone has issues; everyone has their own problems, but it is just simply instinct to care about ourselves rather than others, which would be why we forget about other people’s conflicts unless it directly relates to us. I suppose that makes us all bad people, then.

My understanding of who you can’t depend on started with that group in the eighth grade school year. It continued the summer before ninth grade, when one of my best friends and I did an acting camp together, and we became even better friends with another girl there, who was incredibly talented and funny. And my best friend who probably understood me the most came to see our final performance, and the four of us all quickly bonded. Yet again, though, I was the one in the group who was laughed at the most. Sure, I teased another friend in the group with the others about her crush on a much older actor and idol of hers, but I understand why he is an idol even if I don’t understand why she believes him to be attractive. It’s a running joke, though, and the friend understands that, I hope. If she doesn’t, I believe I owe her, along with so many others, a world of apologies. But her and all the others continue to joke at me for the way I talk and my appearance even if they were different quirks from the things that the others used to harass me for. No one who wasn’t my close friend has ever harmed me the way my friends have. Maybe I’ve just hurt them and they are retaliating. But I don’t think so, I think they have pure intentions, and are not noticing what they’re doing to me.

That summer I went to two concerts, and the one who understood me so much was so offended that I didn’t invite her, especially when I invited a girl (only by awkward happenstance) instead of her, even when that girl didn’t go and the two of us who went to the concert invited the best friend instead. And that brought out the issues that friend has had with me for weeks, about how mutual friends of ours had told her I’d declined her calls, yet they neglected to mention that it was so I wouldn’t have to awkwardly say, “Sorry, I’m at so-and-so’s house, who you haven’t met yet.” And that’s when I realized that no one really understands me, because she certainly didn’t understand my actions and reasons for them. She didn’t even think I was truly sorry. And the mutual friends told her things that would obviously cause tension. I guess I don’t understand anyone either, because I can’t see what would bring them to do that. What I feel worst about is a rumor that I mentioned to someone, because I wanted to see if it was true. I still do not know if it was valid or not, but the person I told went and told a close friend of the person who it was about and asked them. Granted, I don’t think they really intended to hurt anyone or anything, but the girl it was about may or may not hate me, and it is upsetting, considering she was one of the ones of defended me and believed the others’ actions to be wrong in our school-year friend group. All I can think of is how my words and actions have been twisted into something that they were never intended to be. What I truly want and mean has been lost on people and there is nothing I can do about it, except maybe become a hermit and never speak to anyone ever again. If this is the way relationships between people always happen, I might just do that, because I’d really rather not inflict any more pain on anyone else.

I, as of now, have two people who I can call good friends that have never really hurt me. But I’m sure they think I’m annoying, and they’re probably right, I am. They just have the decency to not say anything. My parents certainly can think I’m annoying sometimes, even if they always love me. But I’m such a terrible person to them, to everyone. Words come out of my mouth that I don’t mean to say, and not a single person can seem to comprehend that I don’t think before I speak, which is just how I also write and think-- it all comes out 100 miles per hour, ready to crash into the nearest person. But with deep and shaky breaths and the bass line and drums beginning in the background, I realize that I am all I truly have. As the lyrics and guitar pour out, I know that I can live my life. As the beats and lyrics complicate until they reach the words that symbolize my philosophy, I too complicate until I reach the repeating message of the song, “I can lift a car, all by myself. “ I can lift a car, and all of my past worries up, all the way to the ceiling of that music venue, where I felt free in a group of strangers. Everyone will hurt you. You will hurt people. But if you try hard enough, you can worry about bigger things. You can worry about life and death and the meaning of the universe. Who has time to care about all of those tiny issues when you can listen to your new favorite song and feel truly good about yourself as a person? We all do wrong, but to accept yourself and others for who they are is such a blissful feeling. Find your new favorite song, and know that soon, the summer where no one seems to get you will be over, and you can begin again.

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