In class we have this discussion group,
a Socratic seminar of sorts.
It was always the same 6 people,
more or less,
who raised their hands and offered their thoughts.
They spoke their minds with no hesitation;
“how do they do that?”
I thought to myself.
I was shy and quiet,
always sitting in the back
like a rock,
quiet and unmoving
as I cringed at the thought of all the attention being on me.
But there was something about that day,
maybe it was the grayness of the sky,
or the slight chill in the air,
that made me raise my hand.
The question was about the two forms of self-
the real one,
and one we show off to the world.
The majority's opinion was that
most people are just good people
and there really aren't two sides
if you're a good person.
I thought that was shit.
I was an expert on this topic,
as I was all too aware of what it’s like
trying to be yourself while simultaneously
trying to please everyone else.
Humans are predators and prey.
We search out those who are weak,
or just different,
But when being attacked,
We are so damn afraid of judgement
that we try not to give them anything to judge us about.
We don’t speak our minds or show ourselves
because of god what if
they don't like what we are
or what we have to say?
Well that day, in that moment,
I decided I didn’t really care.
With my hand raised in the air,
the teacher looked as me,
almost surprised that could even move,
“Ali? Do you have something to say?”
instantly regretting this as all their eyes landed on me.
“Well” I stuttered
“I think every
to varying degrees,
are terrified of showing the world our purest selves.
We hide behind a mask of smiles
and the breath of fake words
because the world isn't always very nice.”
I saw the judgement swimming in their eyes
making it ten times harder to finish what I was saying.
“I mean none of us are perfect
but we still think we can convince everyone we are.
We all have secrets and quirks and issues
that we wish we didn't have
but those are things that make us human.
So of course we have two sides to us,
but we need to try to embrace both sides enough
that one day hopefully those sides will converge
and there will nothing left but the simplest form of ourselves.”
I took in a deep breath after realizing
I didn't breathe that whole time.
way to look at it.”
I’ll never forget the way she said
almost as if interesting was her synonym
“Anyone else?” she asked,
drawing the attention away from me,
like she was trying to forget I ever spoke.
That is the reason why
I never raised my hand in English again.