As I look back now – in December to the year 2017, When I now play the summary of everything that has happened in the year I look behind at all the experiences I and the adventures that the world together has had… Not necessarily everything turned out well, not everything had its happy ending and not everything happened to contribute to a good cause in the end.
In the year 2016, we had a crazy time, we as the world together and as a community and I as one. But that’s last year, one year in the past, yet the last few months of 2016 had to set-up the majority of my year.
In around mid-November, I came back from school extremely worried but losing my art assessment, although I didn’t know the least bit that that day would be the day that would define the next year of mine.
As I entered my room and started frantically searching for my paper I noticed my mom’s face looked like it was glowing, I asked her –
“What’s the matter, mum?”
She replied – “what’s one thing you want the most right now”
I answered – “to get into UWC, I hope they got my application letter”
She rose and held my hands, looked at me in the eye and said – “I think they got the form.”
My heart soared.
“You don’t mean…” I asked and she responded back
“Yes, I do!”
In that instance, I literally jumped and screamed at the top of my lungs, My head went fuzzy with excitement. of course, I was really overjoyed about getting into the school I had dreamed of being in for so many years, but deep inside I was most happy about having a chance to start over. I really wished for a chance to be known as someone different. I loved it when I was always the first person to be picked for a team in a math quiz. But other or most times – less so.
Lost in my joy I had no idea what I was doing – running around the house, jumping, screaming – all sorts of crazy things. my mind raced with a billion thoughts at once.
It took me quite a while to calm down, but when I did I realised that it was mid-November now, and my 5th grade ended in March. The new term in UWC started in August. That meant I had less than 4 months left in my current school, then when my current school would end I would have about 5 months as a holiday before my new school started!!! The thought I had then was – A holiday! What a great opportunity for me to try and change my appearance and my ‘cool boy’ level.
The journey after that in my former school was a breeze, smoothly enough I was able to successfully leave the school, say goodbye to my friends, teachers and other connections I had to the school. Every night I would fantasize about the new MacBook Air I would get, on which I am writing this today, about the huge campus that I would stand in and about the new kind of friends I would make.
And so, between fantasising and overdoses of excitement, there ended one of my most proud years of my life.
The new year of 2017 had started, and my school was coming to an end, the closer the last date came, the more I started to seriously think about the idea of starting over.
I had been a very academic student all my life, there were hardly any complaints from the teachers in the parent-teacher conference, but the complaints from me to my parents about – me feeling miserable about being the person I was.
My parents told me to ignore other people and just be who I was, but I too had a very prominent fear of who I was. My peers liked staying away from me. Finding a partner in any ‘turn and talk‘ activity was next to impossible. The justification from my peers for that was – that – I was the study guy. I wasn’t really that important in sports games and that I was a ‘mama’s boy’.
There was not much attention to that fact when I was younger. But now as I neared 12, things like these started bothering me, people hurled words like nerd, loner, ugly at me.
Just because I didn’t play soccer because I liked to read I was isolated. I didn’t find that fair but I used to think – “what does that change?”
At first, I was attempting to ignore the people trying to exclude me, but – when I was treated to those words more often I started feeling like -How many people can I ignore, and how long can I stay away. So they started getting to me. I started hating myself. I saw more and more over the years that the teachers were almost my only friends, it was true I didn’t look the best, probably somewhere in the bottom of the looks list. I was nowhere close to cool or fit or sporty. If there was anything I was good at – it was studying, and I hated my only strength, so I kept going deeper into the mess, I started ignoring people, started being mean to them in the process of trying to showcase myself ‘cool’ but all my tries were pointless, my image in this school was already set. I was always known as the math guy or the science dude. But it hurt being always picked last in PE, hearing deep noooooo’s when I was on someone’s sports team.
And by the time my offer came I was done with being proud of who I was, every day I would come home gloomy. However, when the offer to a new school came, a speck of hope fluttered into my heart.
So began my year of wait, I realized and accepted my chance to change the way people thought about me and to become a new person. I aimed to be cool and sporty when I joined my new school. And thus began my mission as I voyaged through the five months.
My focus on the important things in life changed, this was one of the rarest opportunities I would ever get in my life to improve. And I knew it. But I let myself waste it.
Once my break started I started to abandon my old and once-only friends as they were all like me, always reading, I started listening to rap music against my will, I tried to easily swear, I tried to look disinterested in studies, I went on social media like Whatsapp behind my parents backs, I tried to get along with dirty minded cool kids, I started insulting and being mean to everyone I knew. And most sadly although I didn’t mean to, I was subconsciously being a jerk to my family too. I wanted to enjoy fights, I tried to be big and strong, or to be fearsome. I tried to cross busy streets with headphones on just for the show, I tried hating things like piano and chess. I tried to act as if math was boring, I tried the join the bad boys’. I tried to pull dangerous pranks, I started playing soccer against my will, trying to act like a ‘pro’ in everything I did.
Not everything worked out though, the rap lines I memorised and then recited were not always right. In the attempt of being cool and being good at sports, I broke my arm, twice. But these were minor defeats, and I had successfully wasted my golden opportunity of training myself to the fullest. My five months were getting over and long lectures from my parents at night were becoming more regular. The fun time we had as a family was shrinking and my parents now had to push me to study. In the house, the atmosphere was getting angrier and I was getting more hateful.
Two days before my new school started I looked into the mirror – in there I saw a boy who still looked like a mathlete, not an athlete.
But my break (or in other words – half my year) had ended, there was nothing else I could do, it was time for me to start my new school.
On my first day, I walked into the class trying to look cool, but feeling frightened as ever from the inside. I put in my first move saying yo to everyone in the class. When my mentor held out his hand for a high five; a million thoughts went through my head -If I give him the high five will I be known as the teachers boy all over again? But if I don’t, will I end up one of the teachers least favourite kids in the class? So to be saved from looking awkward I just fist-bumped him and moved on by wrapping my arm around someone in the class.
My dad had told me – to just be myself. But, myself was not what I wanted to be. My mum said – people know a fake, and nobody likes a pretender. But I didn’t see any better way to change my picture.
I tried making friends and being cool and popular, but no matter what – every day I sat alone in the canteen. I was getting desperate. So I put in all my energy and effort into trying to make at least a friend, not once thinking about my studies. “Studies, eh who cares, I’m smart, when exams come I’ll just naturally be exemplary.” I kept thinking.
As the weeks went by I kept striving to be angry or to get irritated, to learn the vocabulary kids in my grade were using but kept failing. Deep inside I knew that this was not me, but I kept going. Finally, I had made a friend in my class. Assessments came and went during my struggle period and I didn’t really pay much attention to them.
Walking through the hallways kept feeling uncomfortable hearing things I did not want to hear coming from my peers, hearing criticism about places and people I knew. Hearing bad comments on things I believed in, hearing bad things about my race and just for the note: I don’t blame the school for this, the school tries to keep the community as open and multinational as possible, they let you choose who you want to be, be with and be like. I now blame myself for trying to be, be with and be like people with values and thoughts, unlike mine.
In all of this, I eventually started to face the consequences of being so distracted. When my assessment results came out I nearly fainted seeing my own. I was in the average zone! That day I felt more miserable than I have ever been in my life. The sole purpose of me being able to join this school was being worthy in academics.
I looked back at what I used to be in my old school – if not the most dashing person in the grade, world rank 2 in a math olympiad. Now, what am I? Not the most dashing and definitely not world rank 2 anymore. It was so hard for me to get into the school and now, I had gotten – average grades!? What did I have to show? Before trying to impress other people I had failed to impress myself. At least I used to be able to walk in the hallways getting congratulated after an award ceremony. Now I walk in the hallways just like any other face in the crowd.
The peers I talked about – don’t get the wrong image of them in your head – they’re not stupid, they didn’t get bad grades, in fact, they even got grades slightly better than my own. I spent countless nights crying, lying on the bed. Nothing had worked out – in the attempt to strengthen my weaknesses I had weakened my strengths. And it seemed like nobody understood, I myself had the doubt that I understood. And everything had gone for a toss. My friends were – hardly any. My last resort in the case of my old school, having the teachers as my friends were abolished, my grades in academics had gone down the shoot, I was no better at sports. My family was disappointed in me, almost every night I used to get scolded by my parents and I had no defence! Because the truth was: I myself had no idea what was happening to my life.
Now, this is where most stories go -” I had made a mistake once, but not twice. Now I have my goals clear in my head and then suddenly everything goes well in their way” but this isn’t any fictional story, this is my story. This . Is. Real . Life . Everything doesn’t always work out in real life. Neither does everything have a happy ending.
My post now comes to my current present situation, it isn’t any better – in fact, it only seems to get worse. My own friend now wants to stay away from me because he thinks that by hanging out with me, his chances of impressing a girl in my class are thinned. Things, words like these used to hurt me. Now they are enough to destroy me. This was what I had wanted to dismiss after those 5 months, but it was back and there was nothing I could use to comfort myself. I was no longer in a condition to tell myself – “Hey, its OK, you still won that gold medal remember?”
When I first started my school and things weren’t going very well I used to imagine myself as a soldier. I used to go to the battlefield or school and get injured by words, then when I came back home, comforting words from my parents put the armour back on me. And the cycle continued
if anything has changed about my condition it is that now know my problems and my faults, I now know my shortcomings and distractions, I now know what I was doing wrong. The night when I heard about me being an embarrassment, I didn’t sit home and cry. Instead, that was the reason I am able to write this right now. I realised that, if people just want to impress girls then I am with the wrong people.My friend and I haven’t become distant, we still talk, have fun but the only difference is that now I don’t specifically try to enjoy talking about things that I don’t want to hear and I don’t try now to become the most popular.
If my friend is reading this right now, I want him to know that this does not mean that now I hate you or anything. I still call you a friend.I like being around you so we still can have fun, chat normally. But it’s just that I need you to know that I don’t enjoy talking about the ‘things’ all the time. I can’t tell you to completely change yourself. And nor have I become the boring person who is too good. I’m fine with talking. Even about things on which you and I don’t share the same opinion on. I’m OK talking about girls, cause that’s what middle schoolers do. But I just don’t want that to be the only thing that ever is discussed. I hate it when I see that – that is what looks like the only thing that matters to you. I’m fine with changing myself, but for a better cause. I have said this countless times before and again today – I want to work hard to be a successful person not just to try and become a face in the crowd.
I have learnt that I am who I am, and the only reason I got chosen into the school my academics, so I shall now continue being myself. If someone is embarrassed by being with me, that can’t be right, and I need to change that, if someone doesn’t like the way I look, then I must make something of myself that if I am proud of, anybody else can’t change. I now know that if I play to my strengths and show everyone the kind of person I am, friends that are more suitable for me will automatically arrive. I have now seen what trying to be cool gets you. I have now understood that being the most popular in middle school won’t get me to heights in the future. I now know that being afraid of my own strengths will only make my life worse. I now know that standing with the crowds will not make me any unique.
I shall not now care about if people think of me as a nerd. I will not care if someone thinks of me as ugly. I will only care to stand out on my own. To play my powers. I will not try hiding my liking for math or science or chess or piano. Instead, I will try to be proud of them.
Yet still… I haven’t yet become that characters from other stories, the boy who suddenly turned into a sage. Yes, I no longer struggle or try to impress people. Yes, now I don’t talk about things that I don’t want to talk about. Yes, I am no longer afraid of being myself. But at the same time when I don’t try to be the most popular, I don’t try to be the lonely guy either. If there is a Whatsapp group of our class where kids talk about things I am uncomfortable hearing, I just don’t take part in those kinds of conversations. I don’t leave the chat because of course, there are conversations that I can be an active part of, but just like anyone else, not all conversations are fit for me. Everyone is not the bad, useless type. They talk about things inappropriate for their age but as my father told me – that’s their choice. And then again that’s not the only thing that’s going on out there, there are many other conversations that are more intelligent and sensible.
Though now, even though I’m trying to get back I’m afraid that – the part of me might have gotten rusted beyond help. My new grades are better, but not as well as I would wish. My dad tells me – to give it time, everything doesn’t happen instantly, and that I just need to keep working hard. I recently appeared for the AMO contest and, I was nowhere international rank – not even listed! But I can agree with why that score came. I was totally unprepared and didn’t work the least bit hard to achieve results. The next contest I enrolled for, was the AMC 8. A much harder paper – same for grade 6,7 and 8. But I prepared for this one and am anxious to observe its result.
If there is anything that this new mentality of mine has given me – it is – to focus on being successful, but live my life at the same time. Not to give all my attention to be cool but not to be a sage either. If there is a group that isn’t exactly my type. I wouldn’t try to be the most active person. But I would be part of the group. Even if that means being the guy who mostly just stays quiet and only pops up rarely, its better than not being there at all.
My focus now is to be a successful person. Continue to just be the basic character in terms of being ‘cool’. Just enjoy the good moments and know that the bad moments will pass. Not to care too much about what other people think about me. To work hard and strive to be a better person.
I found this picture to sum up entirely what I learnt –
Although this post ends on a happy note that is just how I have written it || Although now I have my goal clear in my head, the atmosphere in my family has become most tense. I feel now the most troubled as almost every night nowadays ends in a fight with my parents. Things as timid as – ‘what’s made for dinner today’ trigger massive fights. I feel the weakest now. When my family itself is upset at me nothing else is close to enough on the subject of discomfort.
The next post is directed to my parents regarding my thought on all of these fights recently. the must already know by now that I like to represent my thoughts through writing much more than speech. On the next post – mama, papa you can read what I think at night before going to sleep, you can read the words I can’t speak