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Identity: Define Me

Joined: 3/25/2013
Posts: 3
When I was thirteen, I was still in middle school. Adults say “it goes by so fast!” For me, it couldn’t go by fast enough.
The library smelled nice, unlike the ammonia-tainted hallways and bathrooms, so I spent a lot of time there. I liked the older books, the ones that were thick and still barely touched, passed by in favor of James Patterson or Meg Cabot. But I was not guilty of such a lack of depth—no, I read Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gone With the Wind, and some ten thousand others, usually alone, in some corner, experiencing vicariously.
I was at the library, subscribing to my usual practice (enter, inhale, search, check out, read, linger, slooowly go back to class) when I became aware that others were pointing at me, others that were older than I was.
A year is a world of difference in middle school. I was in seventh. They were in eighth. Can you see them? Gangly and pre-pubescent, wearing ill-fitted Nike sportswear, tossing around books like they would a ball, with all the egocentrism of fourteen—I was very afraid. There are few worse things than a bored male.
I was checking out when a member of this group approached me: “Do you want to go out with me?”
Anyone not there would have assumed he was asking a legitimate question, just being a boy. But I knew. I was far below him in the food chain, wearing something juvenile (a butterfly shirt, I think), picking out books that looked like they belonged in a mausoleum. It was a joke—to think that he, the mighty he, wanted anything to do with lowly me. His friends were laughing, and I was crying. He persisted, smirking and sardonic and forceful, while the librarian across the desk from me blushed and was mute.
How many times have I revisited that memory? How many times have I inflicted hurt on those boys, for crushing my spirit so callously?
I looked down, trying to collect myself before going back to class, and I recognized the comfort of my books.
They would laugh at me, but I could flee, if not in person then in my mind. They acted out of a need for entertainment. That was all.
But I had seen everything through others, and I knew what boredom was and also what cruelty it can conceive. They did not approve of me. I did not approve of them.
I did not want them to approve of me.
My small rebellions mean absolutely nothing to people other than myself. But they give me some semblance of identity: with each refusal to let someone else define me, I become something more.
I will fit expectations if they are worthy. I will conform if need be. But I will not lessen my sense of identity because of an incident between two very confused, young people. I am more than what they thought I was. I have to believe that.

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