For the first time in so long, I’m feeling productive, I have a smile on my face and I don’t feel too empty, and it’s all because I realised that people don’t hate me.
Really, I shouldn’t be surprised that people in my school hold some sort of respect for me. Over the past few months – ever since I started sixth form – I’ve begun to show who I am to the people around me, not hiding behind anything or anyone. Even through when I want to sob, I’ve been able to hold my head up at school and present myself to people who didn’t know me before. As someone with, er, rubbishy self-confidence, it came as a shock today to realise just how much that’s payed off.
In psychology and french, there are a lot of differences to how I was before. Take today in French, for instance: we had a test, and because there are five people in our class, we’ve grown quite close when talking about that subject. Because we can’t hide behind each other, we have to support each other. The test was bad for all of us, and we complained good naturedly about that one and the one on Tuesday. I feel like I can speak up, that I won’t halt and stumble over my sentences, because they wouldn’t laugh. Two girls in particular I’m close with, one I’ve known for many years and another who’s new to the school.
The former helps me find my friends after lesson and is just generally one of the nicest people to ever exist. She’s applying for head girl and really deserves it, as she always helps people out. In the last month, I’ve really got to know her – we’ve shared laughter, exasperated screaming at a not-so-nice guy in our english class, and ranted about The Great Gatsby together. She’s one of the main people I respect, and who’s got a good view of me – no judgement, no scorn, and she’s so caring: I’ve had moments of not being great and when she sees it, she asks if I’m okay. Those kind words from her, plus all the sides of her that she’s shown me, makes her someone I’m glad to call a friend.
The new girl sits next to me, and I find it ridiculously easy to talk to her. We’re pretty much inseparable in class, and when we don’t understand how to do the work we grumble about it, and end up laughing at the most stupid things. After our test from hell, we both had a free period. Usually, like a loner (okay my friend Oak is there) I go to the VI unit – unit for blind people – and because she had no friends in her free, she went in with me. It surprised me again that she called me a friend – and I suppose we are now, and have been for a while but I’m too down on myself to appreciate that. Originally, we were just going to stay there for a few minutes, and then go somewhere else.
Instead, we ended up staying there for the entire lesson. In the quiet of the room, we encouraged each other to do work, laughing over our screwup of french verbs. She and I are at the same level, so there’s no ‘oh but YOU’re better’ and that’s so incredibly refreshing. I felt a bit bad for Oak, because she and I were cackling at one point: she works at a swimming pool and was telling me stories. To have someone speak to you, someone new, who didn’t know you before – that’s something great for me, because she knows who I am NOW and she accepts me. I was terrified that she’d think I was boring, that she’d dismiss me and not sit with me, but I was proved wrong which is the best feeling in the world.
I’ve noticed that in class, I laugh a lot more now. I still have moments where when, I don’t understand the work, I feel sick with myself and want to disappear, but the people around me have helped to get rid of that the tiniest bit. Especially in one of my lessons in psychology, I’ve been feeling so positive. Three girls sit around me who speak to me – asking me about blindness sometimes but not in a patronising way – and we smile, giggle hysterically while two of them insult each other and don’t get enough work done. We’re all from wildly different social groups, but now that doesn’t seem to matter. That’s what I love about sixth form.
Outside of lessons, I become a bit more of a wreck because when I’m working, I have something to focus my thoughts. The people who aren’t my “friends”, who sit around me in lessons, don’t know what’s happening with my mind right now. However, when I’m turning to them and reaching out to talk, that fades away for a while so that they don’t NEED to know. In history today – a lesson where I don’t always feel so connected with everything – I spoke and laughed with someone I never usually would, though I missed Red sitting next to me.
I want to hold onto this positivity, for today. I need to write a song tonight ready for Sunday, and my mum bought a new microwave that I can use. Independence +productivity =a happy Elm.
No matter what you think, not every stranger in your class hates you. In fact, people that don’t know you couldn’t have a true REASON to hate you. I know that it’s terrifying to reach out, to say something and worry that it will be shoved back in your face with mocking laughter, but you’ll never know what it feels like unless you take that chance.
There are so many people in the world, in the room of your english or maths or biology class. Not all of them will talk to you, will see you for who you are, but some will. It’s those people that count, who can make your day with a simple comment. Yes, they won’t all be your friends – find the friends that really understand you – but they’re still people. They can look at part of you and say, “I know this person.”
Don’t be afraid to talk to people, a little at a time. You can’t be expected to suddenly speak to everyone, especially if you suffer from any anxiety. Build yourself up, and even if you speak to one new person a week – that’s enough. Whatever is right for you, whatever makes you happiest, is enough and no one can tell you otherwise.
I thought I’d be called stupid for trying to socially interact. I was wrong. I’m not confident, but I’m on my way to being just the slightest bit happier in my so-called “social life”.
This has taught me something, and I hope it has for you too. The smallest things can really surprise you, and make you question what you think about yourself. Because today, I’ve realised that some of the people in my year don’t find me weird, or annoying. They find me human.
From Elm 🙂