growing up, I was one of those shy little girls with the wide, fearful eyes who blushed at strangers and spent most of their time fantasizing and playing pretend.

      akwardness and insecurity have been lurking around the corner throughout my whole life, but if i had to pinpoint the darkest years, i`d say it`d a tie between how i felt in middle school and how i feel now. by 7th grade, my peers had really started to notice my problems fitting in and although they kept most of the teasing to themselves, it was painfully obvious i was never going to be one of the "in-crowd". thankfully in eighth grade, with music as my muse, i began to paint a new idea of what it meant to be happy in my own skin. i had spent so many years trying to imagine myself into someone eles`s ideal and at long last i realized, the greatest thing about my life was that i was the one living it and no one could tell me how to be me better than myself. for years upon making this discovery i led my own parade, proudly banging two symbols together in honor of individualty. any discomfort that lingered was pacified with overeating (which, as any former-fat-girl knows, leads to nothing but more discomfort). though i may have been fat, i was very extroverted and felt solid about who i was inside. i had many friends (mostly outsiders like myself), and thanks to a good sense of humor, was able to see the lighter side of most every situation. i thought finding peace in front of the mirror was the last step towards self-love and it was in my senior year i decided to join the school`s cross country team. i quickly found myself inside a trimmer yet unfamiliar body and although i finally got the attention i had always wanted, something was missing. in my heart, jokes and jogging aside, i was the same, shy, misguided little girl, longing to fit in.

      looking back at the past five years i`ve spent out of high school, i see i`ve done nothing to mend what is broken inside me, instead focusing soley and obsessively on the mere surface of things. i`ve been proverbially scribbling guy after guy`s name into my great notebook of life, using their interest to fuel my self esteem instead of really making anything of myself. i`ve recently come to terms with this avoidance mechanism and have remedied the situation for the time being, opting to be alone and find myself first.

      i am currenly a cashier at a local drugstore; the sulking, dreamless clerk with the dead eyes most people pity as they pick up their sundries on their way home from work. they rush through the aisles, anxious to get back to their albeit difficult but nonetheless happy lives. and me? nowadays, i`m just plain anxious. restlessly floating from day to day in a dead-end job with no future in sight, i literally have become so disconnected from humanity i blush when spoken to directly. and i`m not talkin the cutesy pinched cheek or doll-faced blush. i mean full-on, shiny, sweating, uncomfortable-to-look-at blushing. i admit, even in my most obnoxiously boistrous days, i never fully let go of that timid inner child, but this strain of anxiety is very new and scary to me. it`s humiliating. if anyone gets more personable than a "hello, how`s your day, thank you…etc" i go to pieces right in front of them. i`m surprised i haven`t cried!

      to make matters worse, i`ve developed this horrible sinus condition that makes my face swell (perhaps nasal polyps? i went to a doctor and unable to determine the root of the problem, they put me on this hardcore nasal spray. i still need to get myself to a specialist for a more permanent solution). i look normal, just very tired/sick most of the time, and boy, do customers love to tell me about it (by the way, if someone looks sick, for God`s sake, don`t tell them. it just makes them feel way worse). if people feel the need to comment so negatively about your appearence on such a regular basis, it really screws with your self esteem.

      between the feeling of inadequecy my lack of direction has caused me, the scrutiny of the public eye, and my new, medically induced displeasure with my appearence, i suffer from a great deal of anxiety. i know it won`t always be this way. i cry. i pray. i talk to close friends and family (the select few i still trust) but above all else, i hope. sometimes hope is all we have.

 

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