Why Me?

November 30, 2007
“Why me?”
Most people throughout their lives face a similar situation to the one I am currently stuck in. They feel bombarded with the unexplainable reason why they are in certain situations. Right now, I do not blame fate for what happened to me. I can only blame one person for my stupidity and blindness: myself.
I am face down on the bathroom floor with my face flooded with tears as my life replays in my mind. I am on my bathroom floor. “What a peculiar place to be,” I thought to myself. But then again, what I’ve been through the last few weeks is anything but ordinary. Throwing myself on the worn-out tiles of the only space I had is the only “rational” thing to do at times of mental desperation. I cannot think. I cannot stand. I cannot even function. The desperate situation that ended with me lying on greasy tiles might look like a minor act to pass, but to a teenage girl, its one that can drive you to do the unbelievable.
A look into my tear worn eyes can explain why a relatively “good girl” like me got into this maze of lying and two-facedness, creating dead ends all along the way.
I keep trying to analyze this weird situation and struggling to accept the consequences of my actions. While I am a teenager, recently turned 16, I never had to believe the everlasting stereotypes teenagers have trademarked: we are inconsiderate, experimental, and confused creatures: puppets of hormones and change.
I was always relatively normal. I never fought with my parents, while my friends were clawing at theirs. I never had a bad grade at school, never skipped class and I was shocked hearing my peers talking back to teachers. Unsurprisingly, dates were out of the question because boys were foreign to me. Feeling isolated, I always asked myself what was wrong with me. I was the epitome of a perfect daughter, but was this normal? My parents thought they were blessed because they never feared the dangers of having a teenage daughter.
I have friends; however, the top five percentile of the tenth grade are not who I would have picked as friends, if I had the choice. I longed to fit in. If you live all your life with regrets and isolation you tend to believe you have to drastically change your life to “belong.” I wanted to hang out with the girls who seemed to have it all: the looks, the brains, and “the life”. I, on the other hand, was not living my ideal life. I was living someone else’s life because I knew I belonged on “the other side.” I knew that under my shyness, my hesitation to meet new people, and my gawkiness, I was witty and “cool” enough to fit in with them. I had no idea that just a couple weeks later I would be a part of this group.
To explain, in my high school, there are different groups and cliques with their own level of hierarchy in the social system: the Japs, clad in American Eagle and Abercrombie; the Punks, head to toe in black clothing, chains and those invisible, “F*** the world” signs on their forehead; the Geeks and Nerds, with the top GPAs in the class, the teachers pets, and the students who are made fun of constantly for their complete absorption in their school work and projects that their social life comes second (that’s my group, by the way); and of course, there are those smaller sub-groups underneath those which included the Journalists, the Jocks, the Hispanics, the “Gangstas,” and the trouble-makers who spent their very existence in suspension. Of course, in the highest rank are those I wanted to be with: a mesh of the Japs and the Jocks.
Oh how I longed to be part of this.
What’s weird is that I always felt like I was born into being something I wasn’t. I tried to befriend the popular people but I was shunned out. I tried making play dates when I was younger but that never worked out. I even went as low as to try sports which ended in a not so happy story resulting in the E.R. and 14 stitches on my knee. After feeling like a ping pong ball, being rejected on every side, I just opted in my school work which was something I could control. Something that would always be there and on the way, I befriended those people that felt the same way. Regarding my “friends,” let me just say that they were like homework buddies, pseudo-friends. Just people that you walk around with so you don’t look that stupid alone or friends that you use for cheap advice or math homework. They were more like acquaintances who didn’t do sleepovers but called each other to see when the project was due or just to talk about what we got on the English test.
As you can probably tell, my only outlet was school. I did not have anyone to talk to if you don’t count my parents because I constantly felt like my parent’s had better things to deal with than my amateur problems. I always believed that my parents expected the best of me and the best was strength, not weakness. Because we were an immigrating family from Argentina, my parents were always working, trying to make life better for us and trying to persevere in the American Dream. Remembering my childhood, I recall my parents lecturing me about the importance of a good education in this country. I had no time for games yet I felt that I needed them and I reached out for them but then quickly backed away, always remembering my mother’s words. That was also one of the reasons I studied so hard: to try to make a life for myself and to try and make a name for myself in this frigid and cold nation. A plea for help, I felt, was a show of Achilles' heel and I couldn’t bear have my parents disappointed in me. Talking about my problems was hard to bring up with my parents, so the best way to avoid it was never bringing it up.
The only person I could talk to was my grandfather. My grandfather, or as I call him, Zeide, was there for me at times when others weren’t and seemed to understand the strain and frustration I lived my whole life with. Although he lived in Argentina, I felt that 6,000 miles of land and water couldn’t separate us. With words and the availability of e-mail, we could break the physical boundaries. I my mind, I repeated the false idea that my Zeide lived close to me so I could feel connected with him even more but in the end, I didn’t have many opportunities to fly into his arms and hug him.
His soft voice and loving nature always fit with my shyness and my need to bottle my feelings. As soon as I could get him on the phone, words poured out of my heart like there was no dam to hold them in. His compassion never failed when I felt sad. He understood my love for a deeper meaning in the world and would send me what he called, “Reflections”: little quotes and passages that he believed would help me understand life and look at it in a different way.
One night in late August, a week before school started, I was talking to my Zeide over the phone telling him about my needing this school year to be different. I needed to change my life and live a little believing that tenth grade was a perfect year to start. He only said to me, “Start fresh. You can always start fresh without forgetting all the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Remember, my love, that I love you for who you are, so don’t change for other people.” I wish I would’ve remembered. A few days later, my phone rang with disturbing news and I was never the same again.
Standing outside school the first day of my sophomore year, I decided to change. I dressed the same as always but I twisted my attitude into a confident and superior image. I walked into school like I owned the place and said hi to every single person I saw that I knew. Some I knew since Kindergarten and before, was afraid to approach them for fear of rejection. Now, I did not care. The day I found out the grandfather I had loved so much had been stolen from me, something inside me snapped. I decided life was too short to live in fear. Life was too short to study and waste your life studying the things that you didn’t enjoy or cared about. I wanted to study art, English and literature. I wanted to live, to breathe, to be free. I wanted to experiment and I set it as my goal to do just that.
People actually didn’t recognize me. I realized that attitude changes your whole image. Lifting your head up and walking with confidence changed people’s whole perspective. I finally felt proud. I, the shy girl who usually kept her nose hid in a book, was up and around, talking to most people I wouldn’t dream of talking to. I made so many friends that I was finally happy for once in my life. But I ignored everyone who would keep me from my goal. I directed myself towards those popular people and they accepted me. They finally accepted me. It took a while but I thought it was worth it. I forgot my homework to help them with theirs. I spent my afternoons at the mall shopping for the latest jeans with my babysitting money to have them utter out that they actually acknowledged my presence. I was created into a clone, brainwashed by myself basically. I lied to my parents and skipped school just to be “popular”. But I loved every minute of it. After my lack of friends and sleepovers all my life, I got carried away. I practically tried to live my whole teenage experience in more or less a couple of months. In my defense, I knew I was a liar and a monster, (in a certain light), but this was like a falling row of dominoes. I could stop it but I was fascinated and mortified at this metamorphosis.

One day, one of the most popular groups which I was proudly calling my friend, invited me to come to her house for a simple get together. Ha. Well, I don’t remember if I was ignorant or just plain stupid, but this was no small “get-together”: this was my first house party.
One excuse led to another and I tasted my first beer at that party and just kept drinking and drinking. I didn’t know what I was doing. And did anyone care? No. I was just amusing to them. Apparently I am very funny when I’m totally drunk. I smoked pot for the first time at that party just because I wanted to fit in. I worked too hard not to be accepted by these people. One little joint wouldn’t hurt me right? Well, after being as drunk as I could possibly be and as stoned as I could get, I was sitting on the couch when the hottest guy at school comes to sit next to me. I couldn’t believe my luck. He was a model, to say the least. With deep green guys, chiseled features and the most perfect hair, he was cuter than most of the actors on television. We started talking but I was so dizzy I couldn’t remember what I did or what I said. All I know is that when he leaned in to kiss me I didn’t stop him. I wanted to because this did not seem right. I didn’t know how to think at this point with my alcohol level being so high and my stupidity level being higher.
I lost my dignity that night along with my morals and my mind. I thought I was doing the right thing. Acceptance was everything right? I wanted- no, needed- acceptance. I had nothing but the wanting of acceptance. Good scores on standardized tests meant nothing to me at this point. My parent’s approval was a concern of the past and I felt disconnected from them entirely. I wanted my Zeide and I was hit with the cold truth that I would never again have him.
After that fateful weekend, everyone at school had heard about my escapades and I was shunned. I had lost everything and had gained only a hurtful reputation as the wannabe willing to do anything to move up the social ladder. What a loser I was. I was stamped a slut. I was bullied in the halls and my progress was gone. What a world. I went from the “good girl” to being a new slut at school. I hated myself for this and after my locker was vandalized with the word, “SLUT” written on it, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I found myself on the bathroom floor. As my legs detangled themselves and my exhausted body and thoughts had the courage to rise, my head fell gently on the wall and I stared off into the mirror. Who am I? Before, I knew who I was and now I was stuck between two personalities I never wanted to be.
A blow of realization hit me hard and I was forced to look beyond my mistakes. I could still live my life. I went, in just a few months, to two separate extremes. Radically, I was oblivious to my own changes and I thought this was the natural state of things. I thought this was supposed to be how teenagers acted and how they were. I was wrong. I didn’t have to change. I should not have changed. But I did, and I don’t regret it because how can you learn if you do not make mistakes? I was no longer the optimistic, oblivious girl I used to be. I was now an insightful and realistic woman who knew what could happen. I was satisfied with the results of my actions, however awful they had looked, because I learned that you never have to change for anyone. Later at school, I was myself and was accepted by different groups who loved me for who I was.

“Why me? Why had this happened to me?”
What I asked myself as I lay on the bathroom floor, I understood years later. I was destined to trash my life to learn how never to do it again. I was meant to understand the lessons that life would eventually lead me to. My bruised heart and ego laughed at me as I tried to understand my life and eventually, my mind caught on.
When my grandfather died, I was left with nothing basically. I had no one to talk to and no one to trust. I felt helpless in the world. My only outlet was trying something new. Because of the black hole in the middle of my tenth grade year, I learned. Yet, I didn’t learn enough. I’ll keep learning until the end of my years because ultimately isn’t that what life is about? Life isn’t about being successful or about making money. Life is about understanding yourself and how you lived your life.
Sitting up on my bathroom floor I stare into the mirror. I decide that I will no longer be a confused little girl. Grabbing onto the marble counter, I pick myself from the floor. I clean my face and wipe the hard tears from my cheeks. I walk to my bedside table, I kiss my Zeide’s picture and I walk out of my room with a new mind and thoughts.

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