Cry of the Silent This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 25, 2011
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I used to want to be known. I wanted to be one of the people who stood in the middle of the stage and was heard. I wanted to be that person who everyone listened to when they spoke, be it in a casual conversation, a classroom discussion, or a formal speech. I wanted, more than anything, to be heard. The sad thing is, I still do. I've spent four years being the person everyone expected me to be: the silent, invisible, unimportant girl who sits in the back of the class and doesn't say all that much. I was never even a social outcast, because to be an outcast one must actually repel those around them, and to repel people one must be noticed, which I was not. I'll never forget those first days of high school where I was absolutely terrified of everything and everyone. This country, this state, this town, all of them were supposedly my home and yet they were more foreign to me than the country in which I was the foreigner. Sure, here I spoke the language and had the same skin colour as the majority of the people around me, but I did not know how the society worked. All those small things a person picks up as they grow and mature were missing from my knowledge. I was not – and still am not – an American teenager. I have an American passport, I have an American accent, and I know the American laws, but in all social aspects, I am not American. Nor am I Canadian, though I have Canadian citizenship and a Canadian passport. I am not anything, and if the last four years are anything to go on, I am not anyone, either. I am just the silent girl at the back of the classroom who lives in dreams and tries her best to ignore a reality which is not the one she wishes to live in.

I wish with all my heart that I was not graduating in purple robes, not because I dislike the colour (I don't actually mind purple) but because if I wasn't graduating in purple I would be graduating in dark blue. I would be graduating in a class of 40 instead of 400. I would know the names of all of my classmates, I would actually be sorry to leave high school, I would have wonderful memories to take with me. Instead I am graduating with hundreds of strangers from a school I deplore in a state that will never be home. I am graduating without ever having gone to a school sports event, a school dance, without ever having been in a real club. I did not go to prom, I have never had a date, and the highlight of all four years was my giving a speech in IB English HL that was a reflection on my years of education and was not graded (it was a pass or fail thing, and if you did it you passed), in which I stated quite bluntly that I hated high school. I've never been kissed, gotten drunk, or done anything that might get me in trouble with the law. H*ll, I'm such an innocent that I still feel a thrill when I say f*ck! My deepest desire is to get a fast car, an unending cash supply, and put the pedal to the metal on an open, deserted highway. I want to get out and never come back.

I wish I could turn back time and do things differently, but I can't. Most days I can accept this, but sometimes – such as right now – the absolute, utter despair of the wasted four years that has built up inside me overflows, and I can't help but pour out all my regrets and desires for the world to see. I want to walk up to those people who say, “High school was great!” and shake them until their brain rattles, then ask them if they ever thought to visit the corner of the library at lunchtime in freshman year. Ask them if they ever spent a day fighting off tears of desolation as they watched the world move on around them as their whole life fell to pieces. I want to ask them if they ever thought to ask what the quiet girl thought of something, if they ever thought to wonder what talking around someone made that person feel like. Because underneath every blank look, behind every fake smile and quiet “I don't mind” is a person who wants to be heard. A person who is so sick of telling herself that she'll be fine, that this doesn't matter, that being invisible is better than being noticed. Because when you become so insignificant that even when you say something out loud no one seems to hear you – not even the teacher – it hurts. It stabs you in the one organ that hurts more than anything and causes you to lose your breath. When everyone acts like you're not there, like you are nothing more than an obstacle to move around in the hallways and occupy a seat in a classroom, you start to wonder if you really do exist. Am I just the product of a really good imagination? Did I really say that out loud or are my mouth and ears playing tricks on me? Four years of being ignored can wreck havoc on a person's self-esteem, not to mention causing extreme depression. What's the point in talking if no one hears you? Why voice an opinion when no one cares? Why try when you can never succeed? Telling yourself that you're strong and that they don't matter only helps so much, and eventually the strength of that statement wears off. Especially when the person saying it is me, because while I have no problem lying to others I tend to like to be honest with myself, or at least acknowledge that I'm lying to myself while doing it. So here it is, here's the lie: I'm fine; I don't mind not being heard by my classmates when I talk; I've had a perfectly normal high school experience, and wouldn't change anything if I could; I'm glad that I'm graduating from this school in this state in this country; I'm happy. That lie is my existence. That lie is my life. That lie is slowly but steadily eating me from the inside out, and if I don't destroy it soon it will destroy me.

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A.C.Worsham said...
Apr. 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I cannot believe no one has commented on this. I really feel your emotions in this and I hope it's been better after high school. I went through the same things myself. Beautiful as far as writing is concerned. THAT is where you shine and are heard. 

I hear you!

Vespa replied...
Apr. 14, 2012 at 2:35 am
Thank you so much! Life has been much better since the end of high school, and I much appreciate your reading and taking the time to respond to this piece. I'm sorry that you had to go through what I did, and I hope that things have improved for you, too. I'm glad that someone else out there understands what it is like to be simply unnoticed, and how that in its way is worse than being disliked.
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