Teenagers routinely express this idea that no one understands. I was no different when I was 14. Sometimes I think that statement is a little funny, because I rarely told anyone how I felt. How can someone know how you feel if you don’t tell them? At the same time, I distinctly remember my problems and struggles being taken lightly. It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough for me to close up. So here I was, a self-fulfilling prophecy, crying that no one understood me even though I told no one anything to help them understand.
The follow poem was written in February of 2015. I was a 14-year-old freshman in high school, still trying to find my place.
No one knows how I feel inside.
Deep inside, I want to cry.
I hide in darkness of the shadows,
Away from all the people.
Will they accept me or reject me?
How do I know how I feel inside?
I am so confused.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be alright.
I’ve discussed my meditation method I had where I would shut myself in a closet and imagine the world disappearing. I think that’s what I mean by ‘darkness of the shadows.’ To this day, I would rather avoid a troubling situation than deal with it. Luckily, I’ve gained confidence to know when I have to confront something. However, there are situations where confrontation will have no benefits. In these situations, I tend to stay quite. This is how I become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, I was dealing with depression and anger, but expression of those emotions was sure to bring discomfort to someone. Since my past experience told me my struggles were not likely to be taken seriously (or not as seriously as I wanted them to be taken), I clammed up.
We see here that my clammed up state served another purpose. I didn’t know if people would accept me or reject me. Even my friends might reject me, only being kind because they felt sorry for me. For a long time, I choose to reject myself in the name of my peers. I had experienced enough bullying that I assumed everyone hated me. Even in February of 2005, nearly a year out of my Catholic school, I still couldn’t let this idea go. Any kindness showed to me was a facade. They were just people who felt sorry for me, good people who, while they didn’t like me, couldn’t bring themselves to be mean to me. This was an incorrect assumption, of course, but it was a symptom of my clammed up state. I couldn’t think of anything else. Anything else would have put me at risk.
This poem ends in confusion, because I didn’t understand my own feelings. Looking back, having overcome this time in my life, I understand. That girl who sat writing that poem did not. She had no idea why she felt this darkness and why she felt so misunderstood. As such, she had no way out. People told her life would be better after high school, but she had no proof of that. She had no concept of what that might be like. All she had was three more years of struggle.
There’s a very important, positive element hidden in this poem, though. I continue to ask questions. Specifically, I ask questions of myself. “How do I know how I feel inside?” I ask. Despite my explanation here, no where in this poem do I point to someone or some group and say, “You are the reason I feel this way.” Sure, I may have been in a dark place, but I wasn’t giving up. I was far past the day where I gave serious consideration to taking my own life. I was living. I may have felt confused and rejected, but I was focused on becoming the best me I could be. I was not going to roll over and let life beat me.
Do you roll with the punches of life, or resist them? How do you assume you are perceived by people around you? Who do you confide in when dark feelings start to creep in on your day?