Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Stop knowing me!" she yelled, laughing at the four guys who had just taken turns calling out her name in the quad. Long legs, long hair, and a toothy grin, this girl wasn't holding anything back. She loved the attention, and who wouldn't?
This all happened after my french class let out. Schools of Belmont students floated around campus, some with earphones in, bobbing their heads to music and giving the quick head nod to passing skinny jean-clad, Ray Ban-sporting guys, others in giggling groups of crop top-wearing, Goodwill-hunting girls. My head was down and already filled with what felt like heavy cotton. I remember feeling two hundred pounds as I tucked her word choice away for safe-keeping. This was last November, so the majority of my brain was working overtime, fruitlessly making up for a gross level of missing serotonin. Depressed, anxious, and self-isolated, this random girl's random words felt like they belonged to me.

"Stop knowing me," came out cheerfully. What I heard was different: Stop knowing me for what has happened in the last year. Stop seeing me as the girl who left three weeks into her sophomore year, who commuted two hours every day through rush hour, who dropped the sorority she'd just been initiated into, who over-shared at RUF, only to be met with silence, who dated the thirty-year-old guy to forget, who gained almost thirty pounds from trying to fill the hollow ache, whose family was wrecked with tragedy, but managed to look pretty good from the outside. Stop knowing what happened to her dad on September 11. Stop knowing and giving her the look, the what-would-I-do-in-her-shoes stare. Stop filling her head with all of the negativity you yourself may or may not even be thinking.

See, I understand being known for cringe-worthy, uncomfortable reasons. And I know how it feels when you let that define you. But the ironic thing is, no-one is that obsessed with me, or you, or anyone outside of themselves. That doesn't make a person selfish, just human. I may be stuck in my own head 24/7, but everyone else has their own skull to curl up inside. The way I assumed others saw me was mostly me judging me, and boy is that kind of self-deprecation crippling. So crippling that I left right before the end of my first semester of junior year. I nosedived hard and fast, but got help almost just as quickly. Thank God. With big support from my mom and super-beautiful-sassy-says-fuck-and-loves-Jesus therapist, loads of space, a Hallmark-y hometown, library and theater jobs, Weight Watchers, a New York trip, miracle antidepressants, and a stack of YA novels, I'm more Meg than I have been in quite some time.

If I were walking in the quad right now, and I heard "Meg!" shouted once, twice, maybe even three times, I'd bashfully guzzle up the attention, because I'm learning that being known, really known, means the shitty and sparkly bits of me are all mixed together. How I perceive myself is an important factor in others' perception of me. Therefore, I declare all the parts and pieces of me, Meg, blend up into something bold.

So start knowing me. Start knowing me for the before and after, start knowing me as the girl who came back two weeks after her father's death and finished a year of school, who managed to make some good grades and good friends, who felt her pulse and figured out what she wanted, who learned "no" and withstood heartbreak on an already crumbly heart, who wrote it out and talked it out, keeping numbness at bay for some time, who wears stretch marks like tiger stripes, symbols of resilience, not shame, who is loved big by old-soul friends and family. Start knowing me, not for the extremes, but for the moments and feelings and words and stories that make up the whole.

'Cause I've started knowing me, too.

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