She was the girl who did as she was told and nothing more. She was polite and put together, never a hair out of line, and she always smiled from ear to ear. Her purse was filled with lip gloss and gum. Her voice was soft and subtle. She had hands which could hold the whole world, yet gentle enough to engulf a baby dove. Parents saw her as an example. Siblings saw her as a mentor. Relatives saw her as a success. She was the girl everyone wanted to be and more. Embodying grace, beauty, power, and strength. Her classmates trusted her judgment. Her teachers appreciated her work ethic. Her peers knew her as a go-to gal. Boys would flirt and girls would befriend her for her genuine heart. She would listen to others talk about her with such high praise and freeze in that moment of time trying to see what they saw.
That girl looked in the mirror and hated what she saw.
She changed 10 times, fixed her eyeliner over and over again, switched out shoes to match her outfit, and constantly picked at her hair, hoping one look would make her feel normal. She sat in class silently judging herself next to the "It" girls. Every detail of their appearance made her feel like less of a person and more like a troll. She went to class seeing her grades slip and her social life deteriorate. She ate lunch with a group of people who didn't even know her last name. She bit at the tips of her fingernails to avoid talking to anyone.
During athletics, she would go in the bathroom stall to change because she didn't want other people to see what she saw. She would admire people around her thinking "if only I had her hair" "her smile" "that girl's body." She was constantly grabbing visual images of others to re-create this ideal imaginary figure in her head where she was popular and skinny and someone that could freeze a room when she walked into it. She would hear whispers and think people were talking about her. See cameras and run for the hills trying to hide her face. She would make up excuses to stay home instead of being in the terrorizing public where she always thought she was either a laughing stock or completely invisible.
Coming home from school would lead to her changing outfits again, looking up the tabloids and trying to match the photoshopped images which she craved to become. She dieted, exercised, exhausted herself, thinking it would make her happy. Then she would crack the door of her bedroom just to hear voices bouncing off the walls reminding her that she wasn't good enough. The rumors would become true to her and the words would sting like a taser over and over… until they went numb.
She was the girl who had it all but never felt more alone.
He was the boy who just made it by. He would do the minimum to make others happy and feel like he did his job. He would shower and slide on his Nike elites and scuffed up sneakers. His hair was always parted the way his mom liked best. Everyone around him thought he was just doing his own thing and enjoying life. He was patient and understanding. Doing as he was told and then waiting for more. He was the life of the party, always finding ways to make people laugh and bring a smile to their faces. He would not talk back or make excuses, just took the punches as they came, and handled life with a "meh" look tattooed on his face. He played his video games, played sports his entire life, and always gave his momma a kiss goodnight. His grades could be better, but he tried all he could, and then some. He never turned away a friend. Never let the little guy get pushed around and helped anyone in need. Listened when he was spoken to and sat silently when he felt overwhelmed. He did what he could, and nothing more.
That boy looked in the mirror and didn't care.
He used video games as his escape. Sports were his outlet. He felt like he was capable but never good enough. Never strong enough or smart enough. He would see the smart guys and wish they knew he wasn't dumb. He saw the bad kids and would think that they were the only people who would accept him. Home reminded him of a jail cell. School reminded him of a job that he needed to quit. Girls would see him and look away. Teachers would give him lecture after lecture that he was not good enough. He felt like there was no one he could relate to and his family was just there to be there. They didn't know him. They didn't see what he saw. He was the outcast, the scapegoat, the victim, the problem. He would walk in the house to hear yelling and fighting. He was ignored and stuck in the middle of everyone else's struggles. He heard so many bad things about himself that he decided to let himself become the rumors. He drowned the boy he once was and came out as the interpretation everyone made him be.
He took the phrase "If you can't beat em, join em" and created this fake identity where he was a combination of all the things he was told he was. No one really saw him for him. He spent all his time trying to help other people be satisfied that he lost himself in the process and felt all empty.
He was the boy who couldn't find his way.
We are all chasing ourselves in other people trying to grab pieces of them to fill our battle wounds. We feel empty inside because it is our bodies way of rejecting the fake solutions we paint for ourselves. We are our biggest critiques and we weigh all our mental struggles on our shoulders that one day we just fall.
The girl in this article is every girl in the room. The boy if every guy on the field. We see flaws in ourselves no matter what, because we are human and by definition, we want to be the best versions of what we can be. There will be days where you think so low of yourself that you can't pick up the pieces. There will be nights where you bury your head under your pillow and block out the world. There will be people who make you feel insecure and judge you.
"Your skin is the wrong color"
"Your hair looks gross"
"You're too fat"
"You should go kill yourself"
Those 5 words are no longer what they used to be. They aren't just a collection letters spelling out a meaningless sentence. They are a bullet. They hit hard and deep straight into the center of someone who was thinking that all along. It lodges itself into an unreachable spot and continues to go deeper and deeper until they no longer feel the sting… they just feel at peace with those 5 words.
We want more than average. We want to be seen for the real us and love what we see. Everyone sees the flaws in themselves and the easiest thing for us to do is correct them by changing who we are. Stop trying to change yourself to fit another people's definition of perfect because you know what if they never see the real you how would they even know what you are capable of. That you are beautiful and strong and vibrant. You are smart and funny. You are given the gift of life because someone thought you were worth it. Someone looks at you from across the room in awe of how quickly you freeze the room. Someone looks at you and wants to fill their empty spot with they think you do perfectly. Someone is jealous of your talent or your appearance or your positivity and they want to radiate that energy which you give off. Someone loves you and prays for you and dreams of you. You are the reason someone smiles. You are here for a purpose and everyone around you has felt just like you at one point. Do not give up when things get too overwhelming. Do not cry from things you can't control. Do not think you are alone in this fight.
It is a fight. But you will always come out on top if you keep on pushing toward a better tomorrow. Find that internal light and spark the flame which never goes off. Look at your battle wounds and remember that YOU overcame them. All the hardships YOU overcame. Not because of anything other than the fact that you deserve to be here and be happy.
So, laugh all day, have a contagious smile, inspire those around you and use your "bad days" as a sign that there is more to life and more to love than dwelling on the past. Leave your shoes at the door because you have so much more in store for you than you could ever imagine. You don't need anything dragging you down when you realize that you are perfect just as you are… nothing will ever change that.
This is a piece written in memory of victims of suicidal thoughts or attempts. For more information on how to cope with overwhelming days visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call 1-800-273-8255. You are not in this fight alone.