I was never an extraordinary person. I don’t really mind. That’s what I was expecting throughout my life. That chubby kid who sat in the back in elementary school. That girl who got really tall a little to early. That ordinary girl with the ordinary straight, brown hair and the awkwardly pale skin.
I wasn’t expecting much when I went to school everyday. I wasn’t expecting people to come up to me, wanting to be my friends. I was completely content with the group of friends I had, my five close friends and a number of people who would occasionally chat with me when there was no better option.
I never wore make-up. At least, not regularly. It was a type of rebellion for me. Not teenage rebellion, raging out against overbearing parents who expected too much or not enough. I was too perfect of a daughter for that, with grades that were too perfect and interests that were far too mature for my age. It was a rebellion against a sibling. A sister to be exact.
I was constantly asked by my friends “Why do you hate her so much?” after saying something akin to “Can I come over today? My sister is watching us and I don’t want to be around her.” I could never bring myself to fully explain.
She was a bully, to put it bluntly. There were no physical punches, but my self-esteem definitely suffered from a few low blows. Too many comments about her disapproval of the clothes I wore or the way I laughed, not that she heard that very often. Sounds of joy rarely escaped me around her.
She was an older sister. She didn’t notice what effect she was having. She was expecting a lot. Not the sister who wore hand-me-down sweatshirts and t-shirts. Not the little sister that didn’t look like a barbie doll all the time. The little sister who had the perfect skin and the perfect body, the perfect hair and the perfect face; she wanted her little sister to have all of the things that she, herself, could not have. That was what she was expecting. There was no way that only I could be good enough. Nose in a book, simplistic, low maintenance; never good enough.
So she poked and she prodded, trying to encourage further beauty when, actually, just forcing me deeper into my shell, into my perfect little corner of the world where nothing hurt because nothing was there. There was no encouragement, there was only her forcing me further down into this exceedingly dark place until I found myself in my own, personal hell.
Then, I kept hidden. Who could blame me? Every time I stepped out of my room I was criticized, sneered at, given some form of a disapproving look, and I couldn’t handle it. This wouldn’t do for my sister. No, no. Her little sister had to be sociable, she had to be surrounded by her coolest peers and she had to have the boys all over her, even if it meant not maintaining one shred of dignity or self-respect.
So why is she so unbearable? Why do I swear on my own life that as soon as it’s completely up to me, I’ll never let myself see her again? Isn’t it obvious that it’s a little hard for me to talk about. It’s even hard to write about it.
The past is full of extremely shameful things, but the past is over now, that’s why it’s called the past.
That was last year, when I wore one hoodie and a different t-shirt every day as a way to silently say “go ahead, you can say what you want. I won’t give you the satisfaction of changing me in any way.” Every day, I looked in the mirror and pointed out every flaw in my head. ‘You’re eye is a little lazy (it hardly is), you have a blemish on your forehead, you need to fix your hair, you need to lose weight.’ It was as if she had infested my brain and laid tiny little eggs so that the seeds of her would torment my subconscious when she wasn’t around to do it.
I held off on the makeover until she left for college. She wouldn’t be able to credit herself in any way, not if I had anything to say about it.
She was gone, and I still had my brothers, and my friends, and things were finally looking up because there was one person eliminated from my life, if even for a little while. It was then that I began realizing that I was treating myself terribly. Being in such a dark place, it’s really hard to see any hint of light. It’s hard to go to school and let everyone see what is going on inside, so I put on a mask. The girl who was always smiling, everyone knew that. I never had much to be happy about, not the most popular or the prettiest, but I found a reason and pretended that nothing got to me.
This all stopped when she was gone. Shaking myself, I straightened myself out, I started treating myself better. I began losing weight and I started actually smiling again, and not because anyone was watching, but because I was genuinely happy. I began wearing small amounts of makeup, I got more clothes, took the pair of scissors out of my room, began eating well and more regularly, and I swore to myself that I was never going back. I guess the rest is an open ending.
From The Other Category to you, take care of yourself because life sucks. . . a lot, but I know you’re strong enough, and it’ll be over before you know it. Keep looking up. 🙂