I have always measured myself against the taller ones. The smarter ones. The dumber ones, even, if I am honest. The ones with boyfriends and girlfriends and better clothes. The ones who had straighter hair. Curlier hair. Longer hair. The ones who had a cooler phone, more people to text, options (any options) on Friday night. The ones who downed ten shots or always won at beer pong.
And yet I have never wanted to be taller. I have never wanted to drink much at all or go out on a Friday night. I have not spent the last six months scouring the Internet for somebody to call my boyfriend.
I just thought I needed to. That me, this small-and-sometimes-hard-to-know me, was never going to be good enough for anyone. Especially myself.
I thought that I had gotten pretty excellent at being almost someone. I was almost good enough to be on the varsity team. Almost made it to the championship for 100-meter hurdles. Almost ran a six-minute mile.
I was always on the brink, close enough that it burned when I failed.
And now, now I am surrounded by no one and everyone at the same time, now Facebook has made it near impossible to catch up with friends without putting myself on one side of the scale and all the beautiful, perfect ones on the other.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. When I was in high school, IMing boys I had crushes on, I used to quick type the tough questions and minimize the window. And do you know how hard it is to conjugate Spanish verbs when that window starts blinking blue-yellow-blue-yellow-blue? Do you know what strength it takes to reopen it?
It felt like proposing to someone you’ve never even dated. Like there could only be one answer, and it would leave you wishing you’d never asked at all.
We used to play this game. You wouldn’t tell the other person who you liked, but you’d answer questions. Like, yes her name begins with an A. Like, no we don’t have French together second period.
The worst words ever programmed were always this: “(Screen name) is typing…”
You prayed they didn’t hit enter before you got around to minimizing the window again. Sometimes, you prayed they didn’t answer at all.
And then they’d stop and start and pause and backspace and you’d think you asked the wrong thing. That you had lost a friend. That they were just thinking of ways to politely excuse themselves from the conversation.
Really, their mom was making them empty the dishwasher.
But you were sure they were crafting this response to let you down easy. All because they didn’t use those three little letters: BRB.
I wonder if our insecurities stem from the way we handled ourselves as 13-year-olds, telling the other person not to worry, that we would. Be. Right. Back. That we weren’t running scared. That we weren’t finished with the conversation.
We don’t go around warning people like that anymore. Sometimes, we leave without BRB or BBL or G2G. Sometimes, we tell ourselves it’s because we’re not good enough that we didn’t get a proper goodbye.
But it’s not. We are forgotten or misplaced or misguided for a multitude of reasons and few of those are reflections of ourselves.