Growing up, I've always felt like an anomaly - but not someone who stuck out, more like someone blurred in between the lines. I was surrounded by people who looked similar to me, sure, but that made it worse. I would compare myself, with people that were going on completely different paths, playing a game that I wouldn't win. That wasn't enough to discourage my thoughts, though. I was too quiet to stand out, maybe because the noise in my head was enough to silence my voice. I wouldn't make too much of it, I often dismissed my feelings. I took everything on the chin and brushed it off because "everyone felt like this" and "everyone struggled, so it's not a big deal". Toxic right?
The problem was that I didn't know myself. I didn't know how to be comfortable in my own skin. I had an urge to seek validation from other people around me, but I was equally too reserved to be overt about it. I have friends and family, people that could support me, but I don't know, I guess the communication wasn't strong enough. Maybe my responsibilities didn't allow me to connect to myself enough. All I wanted was to feel accepted and cherished. I was blind with vision and blinder in mind, with no one to help me correct it.
While I wish I could say that I managed to figure it out and make some sense of myself, I didn't. I took my flaws to university, in hopes of making a discovery there. Naturally, I have always been a friendly person, despite not feeling like I had a voice to share. I loved exploring all the differences between us as humans that drew us together. It gave me comfort at least in knowing that there were others who I didn't need to compare myself to. Maybe they could teach me how to be a little more like me? And at first, I felt so happy with my new experiences. Well, I was trying to escape the problems within myself without even realising it. But regardless, I felt free.
And then I met someone - someone who made me feel even freer than before. I was so comfortable having someone close to me. I didn't know what that felt like, I always thought that although I sought this attention, I could still just go it alone. I had subconsciously built that mentality, and it fuelled everything I did - further sealing myself into a box. It gave me some security knowing that I could be desirable - something to put alongside my name. Everything about me became more joyful, even my friends started noticing. That feeling of ecstasy in its most natural form. I can't say that being with someone gave me my sense of self - to me that doesn't sit well - but it definitely stirred my direction.
Even if it was only temporary.
Too soon if you ask me. That's how quickly bliss got pulled out from under me. It caused me to fall - straight into a cloud of grief. They don't tell you that to grieve doesn't just mean to experience loss of life. I grieved a further dampening of the fire in my soul. I had been used to try and mask somebody else's wounds. In the beginning, I had been respected. Or at least that's what I thought. But if the mind isn't separate from the body, then I guess not. And the worst thing was that I unintentionally allowed it to happen. We were both in agreement because I didn't elicit the hidden agenda written in the subtext. It tore me apart even more and amplified the sounds in my head. If I had been lost beforehand, I was absolutely lost then. I look back at how I explained it all to my friends. Word vomit hurling straight at them, word vomit seeping through my page. I remember how hard I fought to stifle my tears. Don't let anyone see you cry.
I didn't feel like me. I didn't know if this was out of character for me. I couldn't understand why this kind of behaviour was even a thing. Don't people know that hearts are fragile? While I knew I wasn't in love, I couldn't help but wonder how I would have felt if I was. We don't tend to talk about getting romantically involved with others - not the way they do in stories and songs. We don't talk about how easy it is to lose yourself when you spend your time with someone else. No one told me how much someone stepping on my heart could affect my mind. I was at war with myself, berating myself, while still trying to console my chest. I couldn't concentrate in class, I couldn't make sense of my sadness. I knew that I didn't deserve to feel this way.
This experience made me realise that I needed to take a step back. I started to notice things about myself over time. That I'm stronger than I thought. I'm quirky, especially when I need to lighten a mood. I am beautiful (in the humblest way). I'm on a journey that's uniquely tailored to me. I don't need to seek validation from people to build myself. This experience has taught me a lot about love. It's ok to love yourself enough to set stricter boundaries for yourself, to help you grow, to find yourself -something I hadn't been encouraged to do before. It's ok to use your voice, make it loud enough to be heard. I learnt that to develop your sense of self, to see where you fit in, you have to make it past a place that shows you where you don't deserve to be.
If we place value in the things that matter the most, the very first thing should be ourselves.
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