I was discussing celebrities with someone I know – it’s a long story – and my friend mentioned that she’d love to meet certain famous people who inspire her at a meet-and-greet or another similar event. As soon as she said this, I paused. Automatically, I thought: ‘Of course, I would.’ Who wouldn’t want to meet their heroes? The people they admire or appreciate?
But then I stopped and my brain went to another scenario. What if they didn’t like me? I view these people as better than me, and the thought of seeing them only to find they don’t like me or the knowledge that they found me weird or bad would crush me. The little girl from long ago, who still lives in the corner of my heart, is even now desperate for the mean girls in the playground to like her. The little me is still wanting to be liked, the little me who couldn’t be the thing that she thought was needed, the girl who tried to be as kind as she could to everyone but herself. I’m now 18; I’m an adult, and yet this craving for juvenile acceptance is still a feature of my life. Bullying leaves a mark on you regardless of age, a mark that’s difficult to remove. I may pretend not to care what others think. I may pretend that looking at those beautiful girls I see with makeup, stunning clothes, and groups of friends doesn’t make my heart ache – but it does.
I always try to do the right thing – that’s one thing I know I can always be proud of. I may not always get it right, but I try to be a good person and that’s got to count for something. No matter how bad I feel, I would never want to cause others harm. But this isn’t enough for me. I hold myself to such inhuman standards of perfection that these positive traits are barely acknowledged by myself.
To go back to my previous point, this potential rejection from a person I look up to would crush me. I have low self-esteem despite outwards appearances. I have the guts to speak my mind and the decency to respect others, but I lack conviction in my statements. I lack the conviction that if someone I admire, such as a parent, politely disagrees with me, I feel like I am a bad person. Even in healthy debate, when certain people respectfully disagree with me, I freeze and shut my mouth. I never say something I don’t truly believe. Therefore, I don’t usually repeat the opinion I want to adopt in order to get my perceived acceptance from people I want to impress. Being bullied when I was young has shaped my self-esteem and caused it to be non-existent.
I guess that’s my deepest secret. That despite my nonchalant attitude, the part of me that was bullied wants to be like the pretty, popular girls who always know what to say, do, and be. I want to be like the girls who my young self believed never went to the toilet, farted, or did anything other than be clean, beautiful, and talented regardless of the situation. I want to be a Barbie doll with a perfect life because that way no one will hate me, I’ll be accepted by everyone, and I’ll never be left to play in the playground alone.
Except there are no Barbies in this world. There are no perfect girls who don’t sometimes stink, have ear wax, and other gross, natural, human
Then maybe one day I could meet a celebrity hero of mine and not be crushed if they didn’t like me. Maybe I’ll just be able to enjoy meeting them. Maybe one day I’ll be able to just accept myself for who I am.
Medusa is an 18-year-old from Scotland who has been diagnosed with OCD, depression, and autism. She runs The Medusa Diaries.