The Saddest Day in the World Was the Day I Stopped Pretending

November 13, 2011
By Gabrielle.Mashaal GOLD, Edina, Minnesota
Gabrielle.Mashaal GOLD, Edina, Minnesota
11 articles 0 photos 0 comments

"If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask... with nothing beneath it?" –Jodi Picoult

I don’t think its possible for anyone to find themselves without losing themselves first. Nobody is born with an innate sense of who they are; they focus on what’s around them and grow from what they see. I am a perfect example of this. I never really felt lost, just the cold sting of everyone seeing something in me that I couldn’t. I grew up with the same group of friends since kindergarten. They always seemed perfect, so pristine in their preppy clothes and almost identical style. I wanted to be perfect too; a good swimmer like Maddy, to have perfect grades like Chandra, to have effortless fun like Taylor, and to be pretty like all of them were. I joined the swim team, started shopping at J Crew, and started listening to Usher and Fergie instead of the alternative bands that I liked. It fooled them for a while until they started seeing my differences, my real person shining through. As sophomore year came to a close school was almost better than free time, because they never included me, and I was alone. You see they were like cannibals. I watched as they fed off my broken heart only to smile when I screamed and laugh when I cried. I was ignored, nothing, useless.

I got accepted into Macphail’s Prelude program in early September. I walked into the music program on the first day with the same attitude of the people who were inadvertently destroying me. Everyone was weird, everyone was annoying, and everyone was obnoxious. It took me about 30 minutes to realize that these words described me too, in the best way possible. After singing Sunday by Stephen Sondheim with the group I felt a connection that I never thought I would feel, I belonged. As soon as I let go of that fake little bubble around me and opened myself up to new ideas and I made friends with people better than anyone close to perfect could be. I returned to school on Monday with no intention of speaking to any of my old friends, I wasn’t like them and I had to stop pretending. It wasn’t that I enjoyed solitude; it was that I had tried to blend in before and I just continued to be disappointed. I found a new group of friends a few days later, obscure and loud just like me. The first three hours of Prelude made me grow up more than the past 17 years have. It was just a matter of figuring out what doors hadn’t yet been slammed in my face and realizing that perfection was being odd, obnoxious, and different.

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