My entire life I have lived in the shadow of someone else who was better than me–someone who was prettier, someone everyone loved, someone who had more talent–and I knew it, too, I saw it all around me. I've moved schools multiple times in my life and no matter where I went there was someone who edged me out in all departments that mattered to me: singing, acting, "popularity," prettier hair, better at makeup. I wouldn't even try to compete. I'd see them and I'd just accept that they were better. I'd agree. My confidence would sink, but my desire to keep trying simply because I wanted to do it for myself would rise. I kept trying, but not to be better than anyone else.
There's a certain pre-determined notion on what beauty is in my generation. The girls that got up early to straighten their hair and perfect their makeup, the girls with skinny hips but a nice chest and a nice butt–it was all noticeable. I saw it at almost every school I went to. And then at my final school, something was different.
Those girls were still the "beautiful" ones, even though they would NOT be the nicest people, but in this school, they were not better than me. Someone else was. And I was living in her shadow before I even knew who she was.
She didn't try as hard as the other girls–not every day, at least. She didn't have to. She was naturally stunning and everyone was attracted to her like a magnet. She carried herself with confidence, she walked like everyone was supposed to love her, and they did. Even my favorite teacher held her high above the rest, and he wasn't shy to admit it. I was shocked to be honest because I didn't try hard either, and somehow not trying hard looked better on her. Suddenly there was nothing left for me to do.
I tried, but not as hard as I'd like to. I didn't see the point. I didn't see the point in trying even if it was just for the hell of it. She won every time. I tried to run different scenarios in my head; maybe it's because she did this and I didn't, or maybe if I had done that I would've been better, or what if I do something else, would I ever be better?...No. I wouldn't be. Even when I did try hard, even when I put everything out on the table, when I shared my heart and soul, when I bared every part of me to do something good...she wouldn't try nearly as hard, but nothing knocked her off her pedestal.
It was actually painful. There was a brief time of friendship, but I think she did it out of pity. I think she pitied me because I was in a new school my senior year and she knew (because everyone knew) I had no one. It was nice, actually, because I wanted so badly to believe it was genuine, but life happens and people's true colors come out and you realize, it was too good to be true. Someone once told me that she and I would make great friends, but for some reason, I knew that couldn't be true. She was prettier than me. She was better than me. And everyone fucking knew it.
I lived in someone else's shadow my whole life, but it was always of people I wasn't friends with–with people I never spoke to. This time was different. We acted like we were friends sometimes, we pretended to like each other, we pretended to care. There was a short moment when I had hope that it could be real, that we could be friends, but every time, she would turn away. And I thought that it was because she was better than me and she knew it.
I want so desperately to rid myself of this burden, but I'd feel so out of the loop if I don't follow her on Instagram or add her on Snapchat. I wanted to forget that she was better than me, I wanted to forget that I will never live up to the expectations she hung over my head, just out of my reach, but I had to keep her on social media. She was funny, she was talented, she was pretty, and my God she was way better than me.
I knew that I had just one edge over her: I am good at writing. I can write. And I think that she just found out and I don't think she likes not beating me in every category because something has happened lately. Something surprising. Something that initially, I was mad, but then I started writing this article and I started thinking about everything...I think she thought I was better than her.
Someone told that to me and I thought to myself, how the hell is that possible? I still kinda doubt it, but wouldn't it make sense? There's something threatening her small little crown that I must not know about and she sees it and she is holding on for dear life, but I wasn't trying to beat her. I wasn't trying to be better. I just didn't want to feel like I was less than her anymore. I think there's a competition that I'm in and I didn't even know I signed up for it. I conceded long ago. She wins.
I am the girl always behind someone else's shadow. I feel like I'm less, but I am not. I am no less, no more, and I need to start treating myself that way. It's time I love myself and live in the light instead of in the dark.