Have you ever cried? Not because you're sad, or happy, but just because you feel nothing and everything at the same time? You start to overthink and question your existence. You start to doubt yourself and everything you believe in. You begin to identify your flaws, one by one, and recount your insecurities. And then beneath all these, lies your biggest fear: rejection.
You're afraid people will see the real you and not like it. You're afraid they'll get bored of you and leave. You're afraid that the people you like most turns out to just be pretending to like you for the sake of courtesy and politeness. What you just read? That's called overthinking. It can kill you. Stop it.
I remember going up on stage to present what my professor wanted me to talk about; to state the different stereotypes in America and to give an example of each. You know what? I DID THE OPPOSITE. I totally neglected his instructions and went with my heart. And still, after my speech, he gave me a perfect score.
As I stood behind the podium, I sighed and looked down on the paper I held in my hands. It was what I spent the last week writing and researching. All the typical stereotypes. The black people lived in the ghetto and were criminals, the white people were often thought to be the most daring and creative, the asians the smartest, and so on. And without a moment's hesitation, I crumpled it up, took the mic in my hand, took a deep breath, and opened my mouth.
"Society is powerful. It can bend your mind, your will, your confidence, your identity. Society raised us to know we are within our labels and we cannot go beyond that. Like, you're a black guy and you can't be the king of England. Or, you're a housewife and you can't be a CEO of a billion-dollar company. Or that she's poor and therefore she's stupid. LABELS, LABELS, LABELS. I am SICK of having to go through one more stereotype people have set up just because there's a majority of them in that field. "Omg you are SUCH a typical white girl because you drink Starbucks." Well what if I tell you that I drink Starbucks because I genuinely like it and not just because I'm trying to fit in your stereotype? This is why people commit suicide. This is why they become depressed. Because they're trying to morph their bodies and mindsets into what society says it should be. They starve themselves to be skinny. They empty they're wallets to catch up with trends. They choke down their own opinions to avoid rejection from their peers. DON'T YOU GET IT? We are our own genre. We are our own person. Nobody is white, nobody is black, nobody is a stupid blond, nobody is a terrorist Muslim. Can we stop? We have no freedom to be ourselves when we are jailed in society's norms. WARS were started because of labels. DEATHS were caused because of labels. DEPRESSION is the newest trend because of labels. So no, I'm sorry but I do not wish to list down all the stereotypes because if I did that, I'd have to go through all 7 billion of them. Thank you and have a nice day."
I then stepped down and was greeted with complete silence. And that was when I began to feel nervous. What if I get expelled? I wasn't supposed to say that. I've embarrassed my professor.
And then I heard a clap, and another, until the whole gym thundered with applause. I didn't stop to look at their faces, I got out of there as soon as I could.
I don't know what came over me. I never talked like that. The girl up on that podium was an entirely different girl that people knew in school and at home. I was scared of what people might say about me after it all. But they all applauded, right? So maybe I made a difference after all.
That night when I got home, I got a call from my professor saying he was surprised but pleased at my sudden change of perspective. He gave me a perfect score of 100. I thanked him, and smiled as I hung up. Maybe it went pretty well after all.
The next day in school, everyone acted weird around me. I would see them looking at me while whispering and when they saw me looking, they'd break up and walk away. As I walked through the hallway to go to the bathroom, something slammed me against the wall.
"Nice speech you made up there," she murmured in my ear. "Almost made me tear up."
"What's your problem?" I said, shoving back to get her off me. "I said nothing that would go against you."
"Awww. We know you're just a politician wannabe girl," she said, her voice a teasing lilt. "You think you can be famous just by saying sentimental shit like that? What is this, a movie?"
Her friends giggled and walked away.
I know she was just being a bully and that maybe she was jealous, but her words hurt. I never wanted fame, but that's what they think. Everything I do gets judged. No matter how good I try to be it's always something negative for other people. I am so sick and tired of this world.
"Are you ok?" I heard a voice behind me and froze. It was my crush. And he's actually talking to me.
"Yeah," I stammered. "They were just being weirdos."
He laughed and my heart skipped a beat. I wanted so much to talk to him and be comfortable, but I have to hide behind these timid smiles and soft hello's because I'm scared if I ask what he thinks of me, he'll say, "I don't."
So I walked away again, embarrassed and annoyed at myself.
And as I crossed the street, everything else happened in a blur.
A car sped and instead of stopping to let it pass, I ran in front of it, not even thinking.
I thought no one would care for me when I passed away, but I was wrong.
My best friend lost her talkativeness and fell into silence. The girls who bullied me went into rehab for guilt of what they said to me. My crush walked past my locker everyday to say hi, and then sadly move on. My parents are in pain and grief, my baby pictures and little things I left behind giving them painful memories. My classmates remember me and my classes were different. No one made corny jokes in Spanish class anymore and they noticed. The coffee shop owner I always stop by at cried on the floor. A girl I talked to during lunch had no one to sit next to anymore. People cried for me, their hearts beating in unison. People cared, and the world I left behind was different. As I looked back, I felt remorse for ever thinking that nobody cared. I didn't mean to die, but I didn't mean to live either and the latter wounded me.
I dedicate this to the people out there who are trying so hard to be happy; the people who are going through so much but still laugh with their friends and admire the simplest things. I want you to know that whatever it is you’re going through, you’ll make it. Don’t give up like I did. If you kill yourself, the people who knew you are going to be affected. No matter what it is you think, they DO care and they DO love you. Their hearts beat for you. You matter. You’re worth it. You can do this. Stay beautiful. Better days are coming.
“The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. All because they do not wish the pain they’ve endured on another soul.”