It’s strange how easy it is. Shutting yourself off from people. Then again, these were people I never developed any bonds with in the first place, so perhaps that contributed to how emotionally simple it was. I went in, went out—-did my job (when I could) and that was it. No secrets shared, no yearning for any connections.
I don’t think they were interested in sharing anything with me, either. The signs were all there, for one thing. I know when I’m not wanted. When inside jokes pepper conversations, when people don’t include you in plans, and conveniently forget to inform you. I tell myself it’s alright. That I have my own life to live. So I buried myself in work, papers, and writing, ignoring people and being selfish.
The holidays rolled around, and I didn’t attend the Christmas party, mainly because it was my dad’s birthday, and partly because I didn’t feel like going. I found out that one of the freshmen I would often chat with didn’t go either.
I remembered her. A few months back, I had spoken up for her one evening, during one of our meetings. The others were criticizing her writing, and I told her to not see it as anything negative, to keep on writing. I thought of it as simple encouragement, something to ease the hurt look on her face and cheer her up.
I later learned that she was unhappy with how things were being run, feeling left out and shunned by the others, who had formed a little tight-knit group of their own. I learned that she saw me as an older, friendlier figure and begged one of my friends to make me “become Editor-In-Chief next year” because she couldn’t stand how they ran things, to the point where she chose to spend a Saturday night alone, rather than in the company of the staff. “If Ella went, I’d go so I could have someone to talk to,” she told my friend quietly.
Her words left me stunned. I didn’t think anyone cared or noticed my absence. Life has funny ways of making you learn lessons, and her words served as a reminder that small acts of kindness (that may seem like nothing much) really can touch people in ways that you don’t expect.
don’t be too clingy
don’t be such a ‘girl’
be a woman
but be hairless like a child
don’t wear skimpy outfits
don’t be such a ‘slut’
but take it off when i ask
don’t assert yourself
don’t be such a ‘bitch’
be nice to me
but don’t be a fucking doormat
don’t be ignorant
don’t be such a ‘bimbo’
but don’t argue your opinion with me
don’t wear make-up ever
don’t be so ‘insecure’
but don’t complain if i don’t like it