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The Things That Stay

I rolled over and tapped “snooze” on my phone, successfully silencing my alarm and guaranteeing myself at least five more minutes in bed. I pulled the covers up to my chin and lay there thinking about how annoying it was going to be to get up in five minutes. Why do I have a job that requires me to get up so early? Why did I decide to be a teacher? Why couldn’t I have a job that doesn’t require me to talk to people all day long? Why did I decide to do this to myself? What am I teaching today? What should I wear? Is it cold out? What am I gonna make for dinner? These are just my usual morning thoughts that pop into my head day after day while I lie in bed contemplating life. I could just call in sick. I could say that my grandmother needs to go to the doctor. I could say that I have food poisoning. Every morning, I think of every excuse in the book to try to get out of going to work. And every morning, I waste those five extra minutes thinking all of these anxious thoughts. Yet every morning, I still snooze my alarm so I can have those extra five minutes to be mad about life.

I pull myself out of bed and run through my usual morning routine. Brush my teeth, wash my face, get dressed, apply make up, do my hair, grab a yogurt, and head out the door. As I walk down the block to my car, I wonder to myself – what if I got into my car and just kept driving? What if I didn’t go to work and I just drove and drove and drove? I guess that would be running away. And I’m an adult, I can’t just run away.

But, oh, how I wish I could.

I’ve felt unsatisfied for as long as I can remember. Every time I had something, I wanted more. I realize that makes me sound selfish, but I swear, I’m not. I’m not talking about material things. I don’t wish for more clothing or jewelry. When I was little, I didn’t wish for more toys or games. I always, always wished for more happiness. Even as a young girl, I remember being so unaccepting of myself. I remember little me, with long dark brown, almost black hair and my dark brown eyes and olive skin. I remember wishing I had blonde hair and green, or maybe even blue eyes. If I looked like all the little girls on television or in my class, then maybe I’d be happy. Instead of cute curly hair with pretty butterfly clips, I had fine, straight hair that could never hold a curl. Instead of cute little freckles and milky white skin, I was cursed with olive skin, causing me to be a shade slightly darker than everyone else. Instead of a cute little button nose underneath bright green eyes, I was unlucky enough to have a prominent Greek nose with dark brown eyes. I was tall and gangly, whereas all my friends were short and cute. I had glasses and braces and bushy eyebrows. And to top it all off, little wisps of a mustache on my upper lip.
This was all the ammunition kids needed to make fun of someone. I had dangerously low confidence and it showed in my demeanor. I had friends, but I was always the last one trailing behind them. You know when you’re walking on the sidewalk with two other people and the sidewalk is only wide enough for two people to walk side by side? I was always the one walking alone, behind the pair. I was just happy to have friends, to have people who tolerated my awkwardness, even though they weren’t always the nicest to me.

I’d like to think that I’ve grown into myself. I have learned how to tame those unruly eyebrows and upper lip hair (thanks to threading). I’ve stopped growing, thank God, so now I’m just average height instead of freakishly tall. My glasses and braces are now items of my past and I’ve learned to embrace my olive skin, for the most part. Although some of those things are gone, there are still things that stay. But the main thing that remains is that insecurity, that feeling of wanting, no – needing to be better, that voice that tells you how stupid you are, that constant stream of negative thoughts reminding you that you will never be good enough.

I guess some things about ourselves are here to stay, whether we like it or not.

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