“Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.” -Mark Twain.
I remember when I was 6 years old. My family and I were at the supermarket, and they struck up a conversation with a lady. She turned to me, and said, “What a nice, handsome boy you have!” I vividly recall crying on the spot and hiding behind my parents. That year, my mom had taken me to a salon to get my hair cut, and as usual, she ordered it to be “thin and short.” From that point forward, I have always wanted to grow out my hair. To look more feminine. To look more normal.
I remember when I was 8 years old. My mom was yelling at me for not understanding such “simple” math concepts. “Why are you so dumb? Why can’t you understand such easy math?” It all seemed fair though— my younger brother learned his multiplication tables when he was 3. I started to brag to appear “intelligent” at school in the desperate attempt of not being viewed as the dumb one. Deep down, a voice was always telling me that I was.
I remember when I was 10 years old. I had just transferred to a new school, and I was painfully shy and introverted. After 6 months of being isolated from the rest of my peers, I finally joined a friend group— if you could call it one. Every recess was a game of “Hide and Seek” and “Tag” and I was always assigned the role of being “it.” Always the one they ran away from, as if they did not want to be bothered with my presence. With me. Every recess became a moment of crying in the corner of the courtyard and wondering what aspect of me drew people away. Too girly? Too annoying? Too bookish? I changed all of that for them.
I remember when I was 12 years old. I had finally made some friends who knew me as someone who was extroverted and happy-go-lucky— someone without any problems. Rumors about the back brace that I wore for my spinal condition (idiopathic scoliosis) spread among the student body. Not only could they see it whenever we changed for gym, they could also FEEL the difference. A bump in the hallways, an awkward hug, an accidental collision— all met with a hard, plastic shell. The brace was meant to be worn to prevent my growth in the wrong direction physically. The same could not be said mentally.
All of these events, along with countless others, I can remember so very clearly; the insignificant images and comments are etched into my brain and rewired how I portrayed myself outwardly. Gone was the smiling, poised girl who enjoyed performing in front of crowds and dressing up without a care as to what others thought of her; replaced by a puppet whose strings could be easily pulled by anyone. The action of tossing aside my true self for a false persona was unsurprisingly facile. For the longest of time, I believed in crafting the perfect image of myself to present to others. My naive self would take in every questioning stare, every snide remark, every whisper behind my back, and agonize over them so that I could fit their standards. So that they would accept who I was. I had let them influence who I had become in hopes of becoming content with my identity. It was not until recently that I realized that living to satisfy the expectations of other people’s visions of who I was supposed to be tired me. Thinking of them did not bring me happiness or a sense of belonging. Rather, it was quite damaging and unrealistic; it was impossible to please every single person I met, and I have learned this the hard way. Despite the long road ahead of me to building my self-esteem, I can confidently say that I am beginning the journey of loving myself. And thus stems my belief: to not let what people say or think of me affect who I am as a person. I vow to dance like nobody’s watching. Because only I can define who I am. My opinions matter. Nobody else’s. And to think that it took me this long to figure out that acceptance comes from within.
Inspiration taken from Elie Wiesel’s “A God Who Remembers.”
Featured Image: https://gph.is/2gJBXqo (The caption did not show up.)
8 thoughts on “𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓳𝓸𝓾𝓻𝓷𝓮𝔂 𝓸𝓯 𝓫𝓮𝓲𝓷𝓰 𝓽𝓲𝓯𝓯𝓪𝓷𝔂”
When I heard your presentation on your ‘This I Believe’ in class I already knew that it would be amazing. Your workpiece was very intriguing and The stories you told have a serious relevance towards your belief and the two go hand and hand. Your manipulation of several writing techniques and the English language is incredible as it made your work piece unblemished and enhanced the reading experience for me. “…as if they did not want to be bothered with my presence. With me.” This excerpt from your writing was very powerful to me because I empathize with what you had to go through with people as I had to go through something similar when I was younger.
For future reference, I suggest expanding away from your stories and into the general idea of your belief because I felt as though you spent a lot of your time talking about your experiences and not enough on moving away from them and talking about what your belief means and elaborating on it.
Your dedication to this piece of writing is reflected on the details of your experiences and the type of person I know you to be. I hope that one day people will become accepting of your condition and no longer look oddly at you because of it.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my piece. I am glad that you have been able to emphasize with my experience— it is always nice to know that you are not alone— and I hope that my writing was genuinely intriguing. To be honest, I did find that I was elaborating on my personal stories too much, but I didn’t really know how to incorporate my beliefs directly. I feel like my resolution paragraph was too short considering the length of the stories, and I hope to improve this in the future. As my belief is still a work in progress, I also do not have that much background on a life following that belief. Perhaps I will gain a new perspective soon.
Since I’m in grade eleven, I wanted to know some of the people who will be entering the same horrific life that I have had to endure this year. This is why I’ve been reading through some of the posts on here, and I am very pleased by the level of effort and polish to most of these pieces.
In particular, Hunnisett told me to take a look at your post; she said it harboured a flow and rhythm I found lacking in some of the work by your peers.
To describe this piece as an incredible feat of writing is quite an understatement; instead, I’d like to refer to it as a stunning success – of skill, polish, personality, and genuinity.
The beginning quote is an excellent way to establish the theme of self-understanding and confidence in one’s self. The first paragraph subtly introduces your theme and ideas in a personal way, and sets the tone for the rest of your writing in a magnificent way – beginning with “I remember” is an excellent method to avoid running into problems with being personally connected, so I would say this is a clever addition on your part.
The second and third paragraphs were hard-hitting and deeply personal, obviously. The way you describe your progression through life is excellently narrated and a harrowing look into the reality of feeling different from others. Your anecdote was raw and true, and this works perfectly in an assignment like this because what you’re saying is evidently genuinely you.
I’d like to take a moment to pay special homage to the ending of the third paragraph:
“The brace was meant to be worn to prevent my growth in the wrong direction physically. The same could not be said mentally.”
When I read this, I had to go back and read it again. This was an amazingly beautiful yet painful sentence – and its power cannot be measured. These lines legitimized this post as a masterpiece.
Your ending paragraph is excellent; providing a light of confidence and hope to writing with otherwise painful undertones.
I think you’ve mastered the art of personal writing in themes here – and it shows. Your structure and flow here is magnificent, and I love how you told us what you believe in without outright saying it. Your pacifying subtelty is something I will definitely emulate from you.
For improvement, I would like for this piece to be lengthened, because I loved it so much and wanted to read more. I would also suggest adding a few symbols in this work that you can extend. As an example of what I mean, I’ve included a link here from an amazing writer, Lexi.
If you read through the first few of her little pieces, you will see what I mean by beautiful symbols to invoke imagery.
This was an outstanding piece that harboured the truth and rawness of someone who has an amazing voice. This is a voice you shouldn’t suppress; so please keep writing.
I know for a fact that you have the ability to publish your work tomorrow if you want. I would lengthen this piece and adapt it just slightly with the symbols, and then send it in to a magazine or blog that accepts personal essays. I recommend The Purple Fig and Skirt Magazine – both places for amazing women like you to share their stories.
It’s been a pleasure to read your work, and I long for the opportunity to learn from you in the future.
Wow. To have such a famous figure (Ms.Hunni talks about you in class) comment and critique my writing is a huge honor. I totally bombed my diagnostic writing of this piece, so when I was reading your (hopefully) honest response, I was pleasantly surprised. My initial belief was something along the lines of not judging a book by its cover, but with thought and time, it evolved to become more of not caring about people’s standards. My initial plan was also to give more of a sugar-coated story to present to the internet; that changed after listening to my peers’ brutally honest stories and experiences. I am glad that I took this route, as you enjoyed the rawness of the piece. Looking over my writing now, I do agree that I could have lengthened it and added some final embellishments— I will keep this tip for next time. Lexi’s writing was indeed beautiful and symbolic; I hope to learn from her and many others (including yourself) in the future.
Thank you for your comment and input— you are indeed very wise.
When you did your presentation for your ‘This I Believe’ I just had to read it. Your work piece speaks to the heart and this effect was amplified by the telling of your own personal experience. Your use of word structure and other word structure techniques were wonderfully done and served to create anticipation for the reader that caused them to read even more. I myself re-read this story multiple time as it took a while for me to truly wrap my head around it. Your words themselves were powerful and showed an amazing amount of hidden emotion. With your excerpt “The action of tossing aside my true self for a false persona was unsurprisingly facile” is greatly worded and only one of the many examples of your writing style.
For your future writing t you should keep the general topic in mind and go more in depth on it, as this piece of yours focused more on your personal experiences instead of your belief. You only briefly go into your belief at the end so you should expand on it more in your future writing.
Your writing and word choice is simply amazing and is a good reflection of who you are. I know that you will greatly improve and look forward to your future writing.
Thank you for the lovely comment; it is evident that you too have a well-established writing style. Although I do not think I am good at conveying my emotions at times, I am happy that you have perceived my piece as emotional and heart-speaking— it gives me confidence that I can show how I truly feel through writing. While composing this piece, I did somewhat struggle with going into depth and expanding on my belief after my mini emotional roller coaster of the past. Apparently this is not that subtle, as both you and Sidd have mentioned similar improvements. I will keep your advice in mind for future writing.
This is such an inspiring piece of work. You have so much talent in both your writing, and your hands. That’s right I’ve seen your drawings. But in all seriousness, I am in awe. Such an incredible and heart pulling concept and you portrayed it so well. The way you described letting people control you in your last paragraph, wow just wow. I found my heart skipping little beats in agreement because wow did you explain it well. I know I’m saying wow a lot but I don’t care; It’s fitting. And the way you described your adolescence, and the negative parts of it that caused your spiral into conforming into their standards; So powerful. Kids can be so evil sometimes. And we are often blind-sighted to it.
I have nothing to say for improvement really. I agree with Zaid that this piece, although already incredible, could be enhanced a little bit with imagery and metaphors. But that just is something to add on. I am mesmerized by the impact this piece had on me. It is absolutely beautiful, and in more ways than one.
I actually just approved your comment on my piece and I thought it was kind of cool that you had been eager to see my work because I was eager to see yours! Everyone has a different and unique view of themselves to reading about others is always so interesting and eye-opening. You always were someone who I found calming and loving so the fact that you tried to morph yourself into someone others liked saddened me. I know from experience that learning to be enough for yourself can be hard, but it warms my heart to know that you have found your self-worth, even if it’s not fully developed yet.
Oh no, I have been exposed. D: But in all seriousness (see what I did there), thank you for reading my writing. I think our topics were pretty similar and it was interesting to see what your experiences were like and your take on it. I guess great minds really DO think alike. Also, I am flattered that your heart was moved— sometimes I am not very good at showing emotions. To have a great heart-puller like yourself tell me this makes MY heart skip a few beats. I was inspired by how you skillfully added your symbol of a heart in a rib cage, and I plan to include symbols and such in future writing after learning how to do so.
P.S: Kids ARE evil sometimes. As we grow older, perhaps we will know better and not believe everything they say. 🙂