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The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Identifying my Lack of Identity

Middle school was a difficult time for me, let alone 6th grade, a brand new place to get used to. How overwhelming. I struggled with immense insecurity and lacked an understanding of social cues. in a classroom full of friendly faces, I sat in the corner of the room, twiddling my thumbs. at a loss to how make a friend like the other kids, I keep my head down and watch as the other kids get used to the new classroom.

In my state of mild panic a pretty girl sat down in the chair adjacent to mine. she had gentle eyes and a reassuring smile. She attempted to start small talk with a joke that I didn’t quite understand. I knew it would be rude not to humor her so I took a deep breath, looked up at her and smiled. Ive always struggled to maintain eye contact, but she was kind and reassuring, and it wasn’t so bad this time.

Without trying, I find myself copying her hand placements, crossing my arms the way she does and this gets me through the rest of our conversation. I grow more comfortable talking to her, and then she says something unexpected. “We should really hang out more,”  taken aback, I smiled. “Yes, I’d love that!” I replied. I think she likes me better when I’m just like her. She likes me better this way. This was easier than pretending socializing wasn’t a nightmare to me.

Over the years I began to do this for every person I wanted to me friends with. people smile when they see me in the hallway this point. Am I popular now? 12 year old me was sure this is what It must be, in this moment I felt accepted.

Then one day a familiar face sits next to me. He hasn’t said a word to me which sparks a feeling of insecurity in my heart, but I reassure myself that I’m sure I can get him to be my friend. I ask him how his day has been. and he replies in a firm and quiet tone. “Good.” more unsure of myself now I try to copy his demeanor, but he gives me nothing to copy. I feel awkward and no longer in control of myself and it scares me.

So he really is quiet, I can do that. Over the next few days my personality would align with his. And one day, he turned to me and told me a joke, and at this point, I’m positive I’ve gained his trust.

Now that I understood his humor I would make similar jokes. Try to get a laugh out of him. But every day he’s quiet. Why is it that I can get everyone else to like me, except him? I dedicate every moment to him, and winning his opinion of me. I turn myself into a carbon copy of him. Surely now… now he will like me.

I dress the way he dresses and speak the way he speaks. I fight daily for the kinship of a person who hadn’t known I existed a month ago. Nothing, He still won’t open up. And throughout this whole time of me chasing someone who doesn’t want to know me, I give up what little identity I had of myself.

I neglected the friendships I had worked so hard to build. Im exhausted in my efforts to win his favor. Clearly I’m doing something wrong. I approach my friends with the problem I had created for myself expecting sympathy, but they’re distant. Refuse to make eye contact with me. Their smiles are born purely out of pity.

I wasted every bit of trust I had worked for in my friendships, All this for a person who already doesn’t want my company. Now my head is racing through every possible mistake I could’ve made. I find myself crying about things that, at the time, I had yet to understand.

Suddenly there’s a voice in my head saying things like: “you’re crying for attention.” and “you’re embarrassing.”  and I’m paralyzed between feeling sorry for myself and feeling guilty for being sad about nothing. “The world doesn’t revolve around you.” the voice repeats over and over again.

Then in my moment of paralysis the familiar boy finds my eyes and asks me a question that only makes my mind more of a maze. “Hey, are you ok?” he puts his hand on my shoulder and in that exact moment my mind isn’t quite as foggy.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I say, a lie, but in truth what would I tell him? He puts his hands on my shoulders and squeezes softly in a comforting way. and in that moment all I can feel is the heat of my tears trickling down my face.

I run to the bathroom to process my emotions, overwhelmed by the rambling thoughts in my head. Standing in front of the mirror through clouded vision I stare at someone I’ve seen my whole life, and it took me my whole life to realize I don’t recognize the person looking back at me.

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About the Contributor
JC Mays
JC Mays, Photographer
JC (he/him) first year junior staffer, writer and reporter for the marquee. He loves cooking, writing and playing both piano and guitar.

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