My World

“Wake up!” I feel something warm poking my shoulder. As I reluctantly separate my eyelids, my mother’s exhausted face comes into focus. 

“Ugh. Just one more minute,” I plead. It may seem like the classic trope of a teenager not wanting to go to school, I know, but trust me, there’s more to it. The thing is, every nanosecond feels like a millenium in my world. I am forced to trudge through the homogenous routines that comprise my days. School. Homework. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.  Nothing interesting ever occurs; if it does, the moment is fleeting, and still ends up damaging me in the long run.

With contempt, I sink my teeth into a freshly baked muffin that should bring joy to more than just my taste buds. It doesn’t. Dreading the day ahead, I complain about how late I stayed up last night, and how much my eyes hurt from constantly staring at a screen. Of course, it’s already too late to walk, and I have to prompt myself to finish getting ready multiple times.

As I walk into my math classroom, a concert of agitated groans overwhelms my ears. 

“I got a 70,” utters an organized girl clothed colorfully in the front row.

“At least you passed,” points out a kid with sandy brown hair and a sweatshirt.

“I got a 90,” a boy in the back boasts arrogantly.

“What did you get, Scarlett?” inquires the first girl.

Apprehensively, I flip over the paper on my desk and peer at the score inscribed at the top by a fat red Sharpy, and a gasp escapes my lips.

“A 96,” I inform them reluctantly, with a glum expression on my face. I’m ambivalent.  On one hand, I apparently did extremely well compared to the rest of the class, and yet, I still could have done better. What about that last 4%?

When my eyes reach the rest of the room, I am met with an ocean of stares, some of envy, some of wonder, and others of utter disbelief. It is evident from their expressions that none of them scored higher. Of course I’m relieved I scored as high as I did, but I know that the problem about the binomial theorem which I botched will haunt me for the rest of the day. And that’s if I’m lucky. Most likely, it will linger for a couple weeks.

As our teacher enters, everyone’s voices gradually hush. And the day goes on.

My dwellings on my upcoming history presentation are interrupted by a sharp pang in my stomach begging to be satiated. As I walk down the stairwell, I am met with a tsunami of chatter and I am reminded of how isolated I feel. Despite being able to sit with my acquaintances, I shy away for fear of being rejected. “Who wants my company anyway?” I remind myself.

For some 15 minutes, I blankly stare at my sandwich while abject numbness overtakes me. Something still lingers from earlier in the day. “What if I’d gotten a 100?” I venture. Then I could enjoy myself, I think. Yet internally I am aware that even if I did, it would have been a relief instead of a cause for celebration. My thresholds are much higher than most,  but, if I wasn’t so hard on myself, then would I still be successful?  Now that is the ultimate conundrum, one I have been dealing with for years now.

And I don’t care if people consider me crazy or 

dramatic. Believe me, that is the least of my worries. After all, who doesn’t love an eccentric? Most of our world’s greatest people were. I am constantly trying to emulate their unyielding work ethic. And yet, I can’t help but sense that tenacity is my only skill. Honestly, I don’t think I’m a talented person, despite what people I trust say. At least I don’t feel talented. I’m just driven. This segues into 

one of the biggest misconceptions of society: that you must be born with immense gifts in order to succeed. While natural-born skill certainly provides an advantage, if you don’t exert yourself, then nothing will come of it. Talent without effort is practically useless.  

As this sequence repeats itself in an infinite Groundhog Day effect, time crawls to a duality of a standstill and a warping speedrun. Maybe someday, this lull of a life can lead to an extraordinary revelation, a new set of principles that I can live by. And yet, this change would require the inevitable discomfort of stepping into a lukewarm pool, a life half-lived, a death yet to come. My ruminations are bound to set precedents that could help me indulge in a new lifestyle. However, that is only true if I accept the changes that ensue.


(Published March 2022)