My Biggest Fear : A Fight With Myself
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I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…”
I saw Kate slowly going away, smiling slightly, out of gratitude.
“So, Miss, what is your name?” asked Mr. Sawyer. I never really needed to enter Principal’s office before.
“Chelcy,” I whispered slowly.
“Could you please tell me, what happened out there in the hallway? Could you give me a good explanation for what you did?”
…What really did happen?
It was a Monday morning. I got up unwillingly from the bed, shut my alarm and went to the bathroom. It was just another Monday, except that I had a presentation to give in my class today. I wasn’t very excited about the idea. I took a shower and wore the first outfit I pulled out from my cupboard. I stood in front of the glassy perception of myself. My mom wanted to buy a wall mirror for my room. I wasn’t really a big fan of mirrors. I didn’t feel the need to look at myself, unlike girls my age. My mom reluctantly bought a face mirror. I could see the top I was wearing. It was quite a pretty top, it was dark blue in colour and half-sleeved. That’s when I saw the marks on my hand. I quietly wore my jacket, I didn’t like questions asked. Then, I looked up to the face. I saw someone looking back at me, a familiar stranger. She looked like me, but wasn’t me – she was shriveled, her eyes drooped, her face was filled with sadness. She has been haunting me for some time, and I didn’t know who to talk to about my visitor. Needless to say, I wasn’t very fond of this visitor and secretly feared looking at the mirror.
I walked downstairs to have breakfast before I left for college. I sat quietly at the kitchen table, waiting for mom to serve me a cup of coffee and an egg. I love coffee. It somehow makes me happy. I took my marker and started drawing a semi-colon on my wrist. My mom, keeping the plate down, asked me,”what does that signify? Why do you draw it on your hand always?” I opened my mouth to answer, and I decided against it. I didn’t know how she would react to my answer and I was scared how she would react.
Project semi-colon is for the depressed, by the depressed. It’s one of the few things that still gave me hope. I finished my breakfast, took my daily allowance and left. I didn’t want to be late for my presentation.
I reached college in an hour. As I was nearing the college gate, I saw many students coming by car, their fathers and mothers dropping them to college. I saw a girl waving happily at her dad and wishing him good day. I smiled a little, while my eyes betrayed me and showed a bit of jealousy. Yes, I was envious of bonds I couldn’t cherish.
I entered my classroom and quietly sat at the last. My friends never understood why I sit at the back, I don’t text in class, I don’t even sleep, and I just quietly take down notes. Well, as much as I wished to, I couldn’t tell them that I can’t sit in front and have people sitting behind me whispering about me. But my friends would never fail to accompany me. I just can’t seem to find the right words to tell them, you know?
I slowly started going through my notes for the presentation. Needless to say, I was really tensed. I never liked giving presentations. I’ve got stage fright. I didn’t find the idea of standing in front of a class of 50 students and presenting my views appealing. I always preferred a written assignment.
But this time I had no choice but to give this presentation. I was the second student to go.
The clock struck 8 and the teacher entered. She came down straight to the business. She called up the first student to go. He presented his project really well. He set a high benchmark and I wasn’t sure if I could reach that. My friends wished me luck and I walked to the front. I faced the class – 49 faces, 49 pairs of eyes, this was scary.
I sighed and I began. I stammered a little, I looked down a lot and I had to look through my papers a bit. I saw a bunch of students snickering at me. Was it my clothes? My hair? Wait, is it my presentation? Oh God, please help me to get done with this. My friends smiled at me, encouraging me. I finally managed to get through with it. My teacher was a nice lady. She said that she had loved my content and wished that I was a little more confident.
I wish the same, ma’am.
I smiled at her and walked back to my seat, not daring to look at anyone. It was finally done. My friends beamed at me and said they loved it. See, I told you they were nice.
After the first two lectures, I had a free lecture. My friends, however, had a lecture. So I decided to go to the basketball court and sit there for a while till the break-time.
While I was walking out of the building, I heard a girl exclaim, “oh my! You don’t know how my parents are! They don’t get it that a family get-together depresses me!” what? Do you even know how it feels to be depressed? I really wanted to tell her that, hey, depression is not a joke.
I clenched my fists in annoyance and quietly exited the building and went to the basketball court. It was a beautiful day. The sky looked clear and beautiful, the trees looked greener and I could feel pure happiness. It’s for days like these, I strive. I smiled out of joy and ecstasy. We aren’t sad always, as some people perceive us to be. There are things that make us happy. Books, a cup of coffee, beautiful skies and a new Coldplay album are some things that made me really happy. Anyway, I quietly sat at a seat facing the court, took out my book and started reading.
Suddenly, someone closed my eyes. Usually I would scream in shock. But these were familiar hands.
“Guess who?” he said.
“Who else could it be? Brian Fernandez, of course,” I replied softly, smiling.
It was my best friend.
“You got that right! What are you reading again?! Oh and how was your presentation?”
He inquired everything in one line.
“I’m reading Jane Austen. And presentation went okay, I believe,” I said, looking down.
“Oh that’s great! Do you want to go grab a bite?” he asked, his grin stretched from one ear to the other.
I saw his friend standing closely behind. He was totally oblivious to my existence.
I sighed. “No, thank you. I like it here.”
He seemed a little sad. But he knew he couldn’t compel me. “Alright,” he said softly. “But please make sure you eat something.”
He took care of me more than I did. I nodded yes. And he left.
We weren’t the typical kind of best friends. We didn’t always hang out together. We led different lives. He was the captain of the football team and I was just another person. My friends thought of him as snobbish. But in reality, he wasn’t. He is the nicest guy I know. We both know each other since we were kids. Once while coming to college together, he looked at me and said, “No one knows me like you do. Or even understand me like you do. You’re not just a friend. You’re my best friend.” This is one of my happiest moments. No one had ever called me their best friend before. I smiled and beamed in reply. I knew he was being honest. My friends never believed me when I said that he is a genuinely nice guy. Eventually I gave up. He had given only me that part of him, and I was glad to be the only one. I didn’t want many people to know him as I do. Yes, I am a little too possessive about my best friend.
I sat throughout the break-time on my own. My friends gave me my space. They always wondered why I liked being on my own. I don’t like crowded places. I have this constant, nagging fear that people were talking about me, and it was nothing good. They were laughing at my clothes, my face, my hair and me. I knew this fear was irrational – just another monster in my head. But I couldn’t shake it off. It isn’t that easy.
With ten minutes to go for the bell to ring, I slowly gathered my things and started walking back to class. When I entered the hallway, I saw Kate at her locker. She smiled at me, I smiled in return. I always felt that she’s one of us – the quiet, the shy, and the reserved. But I somehow knew that she suffered from the same fears I do. We’ve never talked before. But we both knew each other – our fears and our worries. The smile wasn’t only to acknowledge each other’s presence, but also to encourage one another to keep up the fight.
I absolutely love it when people say hi to me, or even smile. It gives me a different kind of happiness when my presence acknowledged. Most of my classmates pass by me without even looking at me. It kind of makes me feel like I don’t really exist. And that feeling doesn’t easily go away.
I went to my locker to get some books for the next class. Suddenly, I heard a roar of laughter and the sound of books falling. I turned back to see Kate, on her knees, crying and trying to pick up her books. I saw the one who found her tears, as a source of amusement. It was Harry Coleman. Harry was one of the footballers of our college. He was also the Bully. He once tried to harass me, when Brian came to my rescue me. It was an ugly fight. Brian fought my battle and was victorious. I was ever grateful to him for standing up for me. But I had also sworn to myself that I need to fight my own battles. Harry didn’t dare to even look at me since that day. He was the only person I could stare at, out of anger and not cringe.
Here, he was harassing Kate. Everyone in the hallway remained silent and kept watching. They just watched. No one said a word.
Is this what we’ve come to? A bully harasses one of your classmates and you just watch? There’s a girl crying silent screams for help and no one even dares to help. This is why depressed people never talk to others. This is exactly why depression is still one of the biggest issues – because no one really tries to help. We fight our own battles on our own. When someone can’t take it anymore, they take a knife and instead of using it to battle their fears, they end their lives. That always seems like the easy way out. I’ll be honest with you; I’ve tried ending my life couple of times. But I didn’t want to give up so easily. There are many of us who make out of this fight victorious. And I wanted to be one of them. Society still has a hazy perception about depression. Many people refuse to accept that their closed ones are victims of depression. They are oblivious to the silent cries, the loose talks of suicide and terrible eating habits. Parents think it’s a phase, classmates just label us as “loners” and friends feel helpless. I wish people looked at depression as a battle and helped us get through with it. I hope someday people realize that depressed people needed someone to listen to them, not just hear the words. Words could speak volumes, if you just listened.
However, I didn’t think of any of this when I saw Harry enjoying the cries of poor Kate. I didn’t realize my fists clenching in anger. I didn’t know when I dropped my books, my bag and all that I was carrying. I didn’t know I could take down Harry in one punch.
I kept punching him. I was saying something incoherent. I was also crying a little. I felt a crowd coming in and for once, I didn’t care. Suddenly the lights around me changed. I was back in my room but there was no mirror. It was just dark and there she was, the familiar stranger. I gasped. But that didn’t stop me. I kept throwing stronger punches. My fist started to hurt a bit. I kept punching her. Her face changed. It contorted, it bled. I felt stronger. I felt more human. I felt I was being true to myself, at last.
I would have continued punching Harry, if Brian hadn’t pulled me back and asked me to stop. I was back in the hallway. He never knew this side of me; no one did and neither did I.
I saw the principal approaching. He didn’t look very pleased. Kate had stopped crying. She looked shocked, relieved, all at once.
I couldn’t believe what happened. But I felt a sense of victory. Is this how it felt to free yourself from the clutches of a monster?
“Office, now,” said Mr. Robert Sawyer. I walked slowly towards his office. Brian walked along with me. “It’s okay,” I told him. “I’ll be fine.” I needed to do this alone, for myself. “I’ll be here.” I knew he would be.
“Could you give me a good explanation?” Mr. Sawyer asked me.
I remained silent.
“Why did you do it?”
“I needed to do it,” I answered, “because I had to fight my biggest fear.”
“What was it?”