I wrote this my freshman year of college (Fall 2010) when I was feeling alone, like an outsider, and depressed. As someone who grew up on the road and in motel rooms with only her tight knit family, getting acclimated to a big city like Chicago and the people within that city was a huge adjustment and sometimes it still continues to be.
I’ve definitely grown since then but I still thought that I’d share this for anyone and everyone who has every had to deal with a huge life change or who feels as though they’re an outsider.
It’s different this time. This time it’s harder and she doesn’t know why. She used to not care what other people thought of her, now it’s all she ever thinks about. Never before in her life has she ever been tempted to pretend to be someone else. She’s the girl next door from a small town. She could get away with t-shirts and jeans everyday that’s what everyone wore, but not here. She never felt the pressure to change how she looked in order to be liked, or how she spoke, until now.
She feels alone. She sits in her room, with the door open, and watches as people knock on the door next to hers. The worst part is that those people are her “friends.” “We’re going out. Wanna come?” She can count on one hand the number of times she’s been asked, but she’s lost count on how times she was in the room and she wasn’t included.
She’s not quite. In fact she can be loud and quite sarcastic. She’s not a goody two shoes, she just makes sure she never gets caught. She was raised to be nice and polite to people, but she’s in no way a saint. She has enemies that think they are her friends. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” She never understood how true that saying was until now.
People here speak their mind, no matter how rude or insensitive it may be. She doesn’t understand how the abrasive and obnoxious people make friends so much more easily. She’s always made friends with guys easier than girls, but the guys here are too different. Guys back home are into cars, classic rock, and music in general. Guys here are comic book geeks, and video/computer gaming nerds. She doesn’t know how to talk to guys like that.
She’s made fun of because she has an accent and says, “Yes ma’am,” and “No ma’am.” Where she’s from it’s a sign of respect, not a sign of recognizing how old a person is. She gets laughed at over how excited she is to see a two story Target with escalators and whenever she recognizes where a scene from the movie “Dark Knight” was shot.
She gets told off for drinking soda and for eating certain foods. Normally you’d get punched in the face or told to mind your own damn business, but not here. She tends to eat her meals alone. She’s gotten used to the concept. Even when she eats with a group of people she puts less food on her plate and sometimes even makes up an excuse when she just sits there and watches everyone else eat.
Something must be wrong with her. She tends to think that everyday. What must she do in order to get people to like her? How much more can she do? It must be her then. She must be defective. Poisonous. Too lethal to touch or get close to. In some ways her life isn’t her own.
She can relate too much to fictional characters. Especially to Lois Lane from the Superman comics. She’s an army brat who has moved a lot in her life. Everything she owns can fit into three storage boxes and a trunk. Her clothes fit in one suitcase. She doesn’t have a hometown so when asked she normally makes one up. She’s sick of the military but yet at the same time is proud to be associated with it. She wants to be a civilian, that is after all why she in the city. Yet, every time she sees someone on campus in uniform she feels a longing to be a part of it. Her dad calls it, “that gypsy feeling,” and maybe that’s the reason she’s all screwed up. She figures though that if she becomes an investigative journalist, like Lois Lane, it will take away some of that feeling. Why should she care about moral and ethical boundaries? Who cares if people hate her for something she wrote and shed light on? It’s not like she has many friends anyway.
Chicago, Illinois is a whole lot different than Columbia, South Carolina. Yet, one thing remains a constant no matter where she goes.
She’s always on the outside looking in.