Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Question Of Our Generation - Who Am I?

If I was to ask any one of you the question “Who are you?” I suspect most would immediately tense up and experience the phenomenon of ‘going blank’. I was once asked that very question and although I was answering it through text, I felt under a certain amount of pressure to get it right. As if it was an exam question. Almost as if the person was going to turn around and say “No actually you’re wrong”. And therein lies the problem. Why did I feel so mistaken and tentative of the one question surely only I could know the answer to?

The society we live in today is so narrow-minded that anything that would be considered different is frowned upon. And I’m not suggesting that one specific group does all the dictating of what the ‘norm’ is, no. Hands high in the air, we all do it. If you wear dark clothes and have more than one facial piercing you’re an emo. If you wear hoop earrings and Adidas tracksuits you’re a chav. If you wear five-inch heels and half an outfit you're a slut. Okay perhaps the last one is understandable but look at the other two examples. I wear tracksuits AND listen to Black Veil Brides, so what does that make me? Apparently a “chemo”. Go figure.

It amazes me that in this day and age people are for some reason unable to express themselves in whatever manner they wish to. I mean, celebrities do it all the time. They wear ridiculous outfits and do ridiculous things, and just because of their status, it becomes fashionable or acceptable. Think of Lady Gaga, for example. People have simply embraced her whacky outfits because her name means something. If I was to go around wearing a meat dress I would be butchered, pun intended.

So can anyone actually tell me why we conform to society’s ‘rules’? Eventually, I believe we will all simply become one person. One frame of mind, one way of life; it will be the end of individuality. Evolution will morph all beings into one and create a sort of Herrenvolk, with society as our Hitler. In my opinion it’s already happening. People are lacking the confidence to break whatever clich├ęd stereotype they fit into. Plenty of people are well-able to boast of how they don’t care what people say or think of them, but when it comes to it they’re all just as insecure and self-conscious as the next. To be quite honest, I think there’s only one real way of determining who you are – process of elimination. At least that’s what worked for me.

I must’ve gone through almost every pigeonhole under the sun, failing each time to find a suitable ‘me’. I never felt comfortable behind all those masks that were never the right fit. In my case, all the chopping and changing of my personality and social appearance led to people questioning who I even was anymore. Should they have asked, I would have had no response. I was lost in this fantasy world that I had created. A world where I could become a new character every week and no-one would care because it was my story. Turns out life doesn’t work that way.

When I lost everything, I was stripped bare. I had nothing to hide behind anymore; no safety net to fall back on. All I was left with was me. That same person that had watched her own downfall as if she were an on-looker. I was left with two options. I could become invisible and let the world pass by without ever contributing to its existence. Or I could start from scratch and re-invent myself. Become the person I wish I had been from the start. So that’s exactly what I did. I made bold choices, I spoke my mind, and you know what? I actually began to gain a shred of respect for what I was doing. Even by writing this post I am breaking society’s rules. I’m not meant to have a voice louder than others; I shouldn’t be so comfortable with having my thoughts and feelings scrutinized by others. Where did this newfound audacity arise from?

Possibly when I realised that limitations and I did not sit very well together on this balance board of life. One of us was going to have to go, and you’ll never guess who it was. Yes, it was I. Being so restricted and knowing that one foot wrong could be disastrous was too much for me to handle. It was as if I was being slowly pushed along the plank of life towards an inevitable death, yet one trip-up and I would fall to an early grave, drowning in my own regrets and “what ifs”.

I still struggle to answer the question “Who are you?” but at least I have the bones of an answer now. I hope that one day people will realise that to be different is to have the strength of hundreds to do what each of them could only ever imagine doing – being themselves.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Living Under A Reign Of Hate

As I sit here searching for inspiration, to no avail, I let my eyes wander a while. It is then that I realise my inspiration is sitting right before my eyes. This inspiration is being drawn from long-held feelings of anger, hate, bitterness and resentment towards one specific individual. One person I severely struggle to be civil with at the best of times. Maybe I should “get over it”. Maybe I should let go. But what if it is beyond me to ever forgive this person? Surely for all the blood I have spilled I am allowed this one exception. One person that stimulates every fibre in my body to stiffen when our eyes (very, very rarely) meet. Am I not owed at least that?

My loathing of her is seeded so deep within me that it has stemmed a whole new meaning of the word ‘hate’. This is not a word I merely use for descriptive purposes, no. This is an emotion so over-powering that I can no longer disguise it on the outside. She knows I despise her. And there will never be anything she can do to change that. No “sorry” will ever account for what she stole from me – my innocence. The pain she caused my family and I is insurmountable. This is one reason she will never be forgiven. Perhaps another cause of my austere alienation is that an apology on her behalf is implausible.

Why is one always expected to forgive endlessly? It’s not always a rite of passage, although some seem to think it is. Everyone is capable of forgiving, I know that. But to forgive someone is a choice; to receive forgiveness is a blessing. Blessings should be earned, not thrown around freely.

I sometimes wonder “Why her?”. Out of all the people I could hate and all the people I should hate, why her? It wasn’t her fault, what happened. She didn’t hurt me initially. Maybe if she did it wouldn’t be this hard to let go. As I said, she didn’t hurt me. But for months instead she stood there, shoulder to shoulder with the perpetrator, watching as I slowly broke into tiny fragments, shadowing the pieces as they fell, ensuring my pain remained in the darkness for as long as possible. An act which, to me, is completely immoral and repulsive.

To have the capacity to hate someone is a horrible trait. No words I ever write could justify the ruthlessness involved in hating someone. It is consuming and can plague your every thought. It can alter a mood within a brief moment. Maybe it is wrong of me to think so poorly of someone who, in her position, is so well-respected. But how can I respect someone that never showed an ounce of respect towards me? My words were twisted and manipulated so much so that the truth became tainted by the lack of belief in what I was saying. And how could I expect anyone to believe me when I didn’t even believe myself?

So what does it take to ignite this immense, indescribable feeling within us? I don’t believe we, as a race, were born to hate or hold grudges. It is not a gene which develops as it passes from generation to generation – we do not all have the ability to hate. People often abuse the word ‘hate’ in very pathetic circumstances. For example, today I received a surprise English test and exclaimed to my mom “I hate my teacher!”. That was a ridiculous exaggeration and a complete fail at attempting to use the word successfully. I believe that to feel hate with all that it entails you must first have experienced the most severe form of pain. Hate is not simply an external feeling; it is one which must be felt deep within before it ever surfaces.

We hate people for a countless number of reasons. We hate because we have been deceived. We hate because we have been betrayed. We hate because we have been stripped bare of our dignity and our self-respect. We hate because people we knew have changed. Conceivably sometimes we may even hate because someone we once knew has changed us.

Regardless of the background information, the results of these feelings remain the same. We are blinded by this reckless passion, and we then find ourselves drowning in this unprecedented rage which burns through our once thick skin, right to our core. The birthplace of our hate, our bitterness, our resentment and our torment. To hate someone is to concentrate negative thoughts and feelings towards them, and doing this so forcefully, in turn, has a negative impact on our own frame of mind. An underlying hint to us all that maybe we should learn to always forgive those who do us wrong. Not for their sake; for our own.

Friday, 11 January 2013

My Journey Through Hell

As I sit here listening to the rain beating off my window panes, I wonder why it is now that I have chosen to write about this. Do I feel under-exposed? Has this affair gone too unnoticed for my liking? Every day I am reminded of it. So many faces that were involved in some way bring it all back. Recently, bit by bit, I have been reliving it. All those tiny details have boiled up to this moment. I promise you, after tonight I will never write about this again. The rain is pounding now; a certain indication that this paragraph is due a mighty climax, right about now. So without further adieu, I would like to welcome you to the start of my story. My journey through hell.

It was late evening; I can’t remember the time exactly. It was two years ago after all. I was nervous, indecisive, scared. My heart was racing as I dialled the number. I got it wrong first time around; my hands were shaking too much, as they are right now. The phone rang, my chest went numb. Her sister answered – she recognised my voice immediately. There was hesitation on my behalf; mumbling voices on hers. The phone was passed over – the atmosphere changed suddenly. “What do you want?” or some other similar phrase was hissed down the phone at me. I splurged out the lines I had been rehearsing all evening. An agreement was reached – “tomorrow… lunch… outside”. And that was it. A two minute phone call that ended the life I had known.

I don’t remember much from the following day. To be honest, I’m not even certain what month we were in. Estimated guess, September or October. Not that it matters a whole pile. All that mattered to me was the 12:55pm bell. It was almost like a life or death situation. It rang. I froze. Was this really happening? Before I knew it I was face to face with her. Panic streaming through my veins. I should’ve asked her to come alone. I was being surrounded, even by people two years younger than me. I did what I came to do – apologise. I was met with extreme backlash. Insults were blasting holes through me from every angle. “Bitch, liar, lesbian, cunt, faggot, twat, bullshitter, attention-seeker”; I heard them all. Then out of nowhere came the one teacher that actually helped me in all of this. She asked what was going on. The girls laughed and told her we were just talking. The teacher asked my name. I was unresponsive. One girl gave me a fake name and told me to agree. Shame I couldn’t speak. I was told to go inside, and I did so without looking back, for fear I would be followed.

I sought refuge in my classroom. What had just happened? My thought process was abruptly interrupted when the girl I had wished to speak to appeared in the doorway, accompanied by her best friend/ sidekick. Within seconds they were screaming at me. I could feel my back edging closer and closer to the wall. “My dad told me I should beat you up… If it wasn’t for our sisters, I’d have you pinned against the wall by now”. The rest is a blur. Her sidekick was even worse. I hope no-one ever experiences verbal abuse like I did that day; it’s scarring. One final hurricane of words and they were gone. As I returned to my seat, I remember two people asking was I okay. I nodded, ignoring the terror on their faces. Shock had paralysed my body. It is unclear to me how the remainder of the day unfolded. However, I can assure you that was indeed the culmination of my day.

Dates are just numbers. Numbers are just a reminder of how lengthy this torture was. Let’s just go with a week.

A week later I was called out of class – the principal wanted a word. I was terrified. What had I done? She began to speak; I knew immediately where this was going. After what seemed like a lifetime of questioning, she asked could she bring the other girl in. Naturally, I said no. Somewhere in the midst of our discussion she handed me a small book. ‘Be-good-to-yourself Therapy’. Yes, I was in counselling at the time, but who gave you permission to tell me I’m fucked up? Within seconds there were three of us in the room. The fear returned. I was alone again. Even my principal’s body language suggested I was outnumbered. The girl sitting adjacent to me did not want to be there. She showed no remorse and denied everything. She insisted it was a fight; a two-way thing. I began to feel less like a victim and more like a guilty culprit. How was she doing this? I could see my principal being slowly enticed around the girl’s little finger. My only hope for safety was vanishing before my eyes, and all I could do was sit, cry and watch.

To recall precisely how this horror escalated would be impossible. It started with regular meetings. Every Thursday afternoon during double maths to be exact. Letting the whole class know indeed what was going on. Subtle Ms, very subtle. I would only have to see a shadow outside the door and I would be halfway across the room, knowing undoubtedly that I was the one being summoned from my seat. To begin with, we weren’t allowed into each other’s classrooms. That, to me, was a huge relief. Finally, somewhere I could escape the harassment. Therefore you can only begin to imagine the horror in my eyes when I walked into my newfound haven one lunch, only to find her and her friends sitting in and around my desk. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A sudden panic came over me and I rushed to find my principal – what we had been told to do if either broke the classroom agreement. I stood there silently and watched them be escorted from my room. If looks could kill…

I don’t know why I was surprised when I learned that they had been discussing me publically on Facebook. I found an old status the other day which was made by this girl. It read “OMG OMG OMG ul neva guess wat I found ……. (devil) u noo wat I mean now hahah I swear haha I am shocked haha”. Presumably this was written about my return to Facebook. A comment underneath from her sidekick read “haaaa omg ppl liiok ere shudnt b aloud on fb liok ….. sycoooo haaaa :D …. Dd it ask yhuu ta b friends wiv ere :/”. I apologise if you were unable to comprehend those horribly written comments. It pained me to write so grammatically incorrect.

Anyway, another meeting was called and this time there were six of us in the room: the girl herself, her sidekick, another of her friends, the principal, the vice principal and myself. I had accepted defeat before a word had been spoken. How could I stand any chance of being listened to when it was blatantly three against one? Everything I tried to say was shot down within seconds. The shouting was intolerable. I was asked if the third girl had any real involvement in the situation and I said no, meaning she was allowed leave the room with her reputation untouched. Yet she still managed to throw one final insult at me on her way out. This seemed to spark some sort of anger inside of the sidekick, because no sooner had the white door closed, she was standing beside me, screaming. “I have to leave, I’m so close to punching her” were the words that came from the anxious presence towering above me. Eventually she calmed down and re-joined us at the table. The discussion moved swiftly to the online abuse, which apparently was aimed at “no-one in particular”. That’s convenient. Then the joking commenced. The four of them were sharing quite a nice moment actually. Laughing, smiling, and wagging fingers humorously. It was an ideal picture of what a teacher-student relationship should be like, were it not for the pool of tears forming on the table below me. God, I ruin everything.

Quite frankly, it was one of the worst days I have ever experienced. To this day I hold a strong grudge against the one person in that room that could’ve saved me from months of misery. But she consciously made the decision to ignore my counsellor, my parents and most of all the truth, just to save her the trouble of perhaps having to write up a bullying report. Yes, I believe I was bullied. Not in the most extreme fashion, but just enough to damage every aspect of my being. In the end, we were both blamed for the drama we had caused.

I am still haunted by what I have just written about. I’m not sure how long it will follow me; maybe for the rest of my life. Forgive me if you were expecting worse from the title of this, but none of you will ever truly understand the depth of my torment. Here’s to you attempting, though.