my family moved from new york, back to utah at the end of my sophomore year of high school. i enrolled at salt lake city's east high school at the beginning of may with barely six weeks left in the school year. it was weird timing. most teachers didn't really know what to do with me, academically-speaking. couldn't say i blamed them really. and, in a way, i kind of knew how they felt. after those four traumatic years in new york, i didn't really know what to do with myself either.
i had suddenly gone from the outcast minority at school to just one of the majority. most every one around me was, for all intents and purposes, just like me- your average mormon kid. i should have felt safe and comfortable. but i didn't.
after my new york experience, i was, in many respects, socially inept. i had become merely a shell of the person i used to be. i didn't know who i was anymore and definitely didn't know how to interact with my peers. i had become used to keeping everything tucked away, safely inside and using silence to protect myself emotionally. i had not only forgotten how to share myself with others but was terrified of doing so.
i quickly became assimilated into a group of very nice girls. i knew they were nice girls and i knew, cognitively, that i could trust them but the very core of me fought against that trust, that longing for connection. sometimes it felt like relearning how to ride a bike- a bike that i so, so desperately wanted to be able to ride but, after four years off scraped knees and bruised elbows, i was paralyzed by fear. i was sick and tired of falling off the bike and the ride almost didn't even feel worth the risk of potentially crashing.
so i was often coined as "quiet" or "shy." and i hated those labels. not because there is anything wrong with being either quiet or shy but because i knew, deep down, that i really was neither of those things. those labels were a blatant reminder that i still wasn't being "myself," that my friends couldn't see the "real" me, and because of that, that i was still very much alone.
before new york, i was a leader with my peers. i was energetic, fun, and happy-go-lucky. after new york, i was completely shut down. although i did have a few close friends now, i'm honestly not sure anyone at east high ever really knew me. and i wasn't sure i would ever find that person i used to be and wanted to be again.
it's strange to think that it's been 12 years since my family moved back from new york and i still sometimes feel uneasy and guarded when i'm with groups of girls- even good friends. i've learned to hide it well but those old feelings of insecurity and worry about saying something that i could be mocked for, or even outright rejected, still creep up and surprise me every now and then.
back home from my own, personal war, and during my junior and senior year at east high school, i discovered that i had a big, empty hole inside of me. a black hole of loneliness. i craved connection and acceptance but, in order to have those things, i would have to force myself to take down my carefully built walls of safety and security. although i wanted so badly to knock those walls down with one huge blow, i honestly had no idea how to do so. the walls were strong and i felt so weak, depleted of strength after four years of battle.
i don't remember how it first happened, but at some point during my senior year of high school, i realized that i didn't have to knock down the walls. instead, i found that i could simply fill the hole with attention and "love" from a boy.
...to be continued.
story of my life (part I)