Defend Thyself

Don’t you hate that?

Don’t you really hate that?

You just want to talk, but you decide not to. Because you know your audience will expect you to defend it–defend you. Defend that you exist. Defend that you feel. Defend that you think life is not a rational, logical line, but rather the intricate doodles on the side of your notebook while you wait for class to start.

I have so much I could tell people tonight, but I won’t.

I tried. I started to talk about it. But even the tone in his voice made me shut my mouth. Okay, I won’t talk about it. This is me. This is my life. But I don’t want to share it with you, now. This is how I view the world, this is what makes me happy or sad, this is what overwhelms me or lifts me up. But you don’t want to hear.

To you, emotions are disgusting. To you, life is predictable. To you, nothing I have to say tonight is worth saying. So I don’t say it.

But I still feel it. I feel it, and now it is all tainted with shame. Shame that my day is  tainted with unjustifiable, irrational emotions. Shame that I’m not logical, that I don’t make sense. Shame that I’m happy about some things and shame that I’m so sad about other things. Shame that I can’t explain why certain facts are valuable to me. Shame that I view my entire existence through the lens of “how I feel.”

Sometimes, I try to figure out who I could talk to. It makes me realize what fractured existence I live. I can talk to this person about this, but they would never get that. This one would listen to me on that, but wouldn’t give me the time of day on this. This one would understand me, but scorn me. That one would never scorn me, but could never understand me. Who can really understand what I’m trying to say? Who really wants to hear it?

I was writing last night in my journal. . .the delight I wanted to share, but couldn’t, was how I actually enjoy the office hours with my physics teacher. Yes, even just as shallowly as being teased about my inability to perform basic arithmetic and at the same time hearing the pride in his voice when he says I did excellent on the last exam. One of the few who did. One who worked her butt off to make sure she did, and we both know it.

But the sobering undercurrent was that I connect better with my teachers than I do my classmates. The only ones who are on my side are my teachers. (The good ones, anyway. We’ll set aside the rants on the bad ones.) But my classmates–they can’t understand me. Can’t understand my work ethic. Can’t understand how I could make time for office hours every week. I can’t tell them my grade, because that would be gloating, rubbing it in. Yeah, I’m one of the 90s. You failed. I flew. My teachers understand. They laugh at my type A personality, but they at least understand me, and don’t shun me for being driven to doing a good job. I want to go have a good chat with my old Bio teacher, but the 2 year Civil Engineering kids are just creepy.

I know that I am a valid, valuable human being. But I am becoming increasingly aware that I am a valuable human being hidden inside a soft cage–one that I’m trying to lose myself in, but keeps deforming and exposing me. I keep trying to pull that shell over me and hide what’s  inside. Partly out of fear, out of defense. But partly because I don’t know what else to do. How do I not hide myself from the creepy 2 year Civil Engineering kids? How do I not hide myself from the girl who is terrified to see her test scores, but won’t go to office hours or tutoring, and plans on blowing off her classes to celebrate Halloween? How do you tell someone that you wish you had more time to write fiction and that you’re sad your camera’s breaking without sounding like you’re totally putting it on? Oh my word, I can’t even tell my physics professor that even if I can’t do basic arithmetic, at least I can bake. I can’t memorize more than three digits of Pi, but I sure as heck can make Pie.  It would just be such a non-sequitur.

I guess that’s one way of describing the problem. I feel like one great big huge non-sequitur. I can’t find anything I can follow after, and it’s all such an awkward starting up. It’s like I keep wandering around trying to find some part of the world, some story, some scene, some context I can drop into and finally make sense. Instead, I keep me and watch the world, and try not to tell people who I really am.  It doesn’t fit into their context anyway, so why should I say it? It’s lonely in here, but it’s lonely out there, too.

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