I’ve always felt like people were watching me. Staring at me wherever I went. I constantly would check my appearance to make sure there would be nothing to stare at. Making sure every hair is in place, clothes perfectly smooth, walking perfectly straight. If anyone looked at me, only for a second, I assumed it was because something didn’t look right or was strange; there was something wrong with me.
I finally began to realize that no, I was not a vain or conceited person. I was always afraid of being labelled as self-absorbed. In reality, I was insecure and looking to other people for validation of who I am. I was unsure if my outfit was acceptable, my behavior and mannerisms “cool” and not annoying, my hair too frizzy when I let it down.
According to DoSomething.org, approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their body, and 34% of men report dissatisfaction with their bodies. 50% of Americans are not happy with their current weight. Therefore, if you feel unhappy with your body, you are most definitely not alone.
I confidently hypothesize that no one else has the time to judge others because they are too worried about how others perceive them. For example, I had no time to look and judge others' appearance because I was too worried about my own. So, when you think everyone is looking at you, trust me, they are just as worried that you are looking at them.
This probably won’t cure your insecurities, but I hope it provides you some comfort that no one is free of insecurities. Everyone is worried about how others perceive them, but in time you will realize that the only opinion who matters on your appearance is yours.
With love, Lauren C
Sometimes I feel that I’ll never be good enough. No matter how hard I work, it will not matter. There is always someone somewhere else who is naturally gifted at math, doing a ton more extracurriculars, and plays the cello. Why didn’t I stick to playing the clarinet? I could add it to the array of activities on my resume. All of you would have loved that. I wouldn’t have, but you would’ve and that’s all that matters.
I cringe every time someone asks about which one of you I am looking at. Once they hear I am sixteen and a junior in high school, that is always the first thing they think to ask. This is the one thing that is important at this age. Nothing else seems to matter. I always reply with the standard “I don’t really know yet.” I really don’t know yet, but I don’t think I want to know.
School visits, research, applications, and standardized testing are always looming over my head. I try to forget about it and say I’ll do it later, but later already passed two weeks ago. I purposely put it off. Why? “I don’t really know yet.” All I know is that searching for my future always makes me feel dismal and insignificant. I am just Student #35750 who will eventually become Human Being #89784939245.
I often question what the point is of following the steps of the system. Why do I work so hard to get good grades? To get into a good college, get a mediocre job that I only half like, be tired all the time, pay taxes, get old, retire, die. Humans are just one species on a planet within an incomprehensible universe; just another species that has evolved and will eventually go extinct. Does any of this really matter? This is my daily existential crisis. I have yet to find my “why.”
For now, I will play the world’s game and hope to find some joy within it. Yes, we will all die eventually. Yes, we are just one species among millions. Yes, there may have been no reason Earth was created. Yes, we are here by a random chance. Regardless, we are still here. Our life is our own. We have the chance to pursue what we love, give our love to others, create a new life. That has to count for something.
I am scared to face you because your opinion determines my value, but I must come to realize that only I can prove to myself that I am good enough. Even if the most prestigious of you colleges accepted me, it won’t change the way I see myself and my efforts. It must come from within. Despite my fears, I promise you I will face you: stand with my head up, shoulders rolled back, eyes confidently staring you down. Maybe I am not gifted in math or musically inclined. Maybe I will end up in a mediocre job. Maybe I will change the world and everyone will know my name. Despite these maybe’s, I promise that this life is my own and I am good enough; there is no one out there just like me.
Yes, I will continue to work hard in high school to hopefully impress you all despite my consistent existential crises. I may be Human Being #89784939245, but that is my number and no one else’s. No one can take it away from me. I want to die knowing I did everything in my life I could possibly do and gave away everything I had to offer to the world. You are another resource that will help me serve humanity and create my change; this is what keeps me going.
In conclusion, I am scared to apply to you.
With love, Lauren C
For more information about colleges and the application process, check out Madeline’s “Tackling the College Process” and Emie’s “Applying and Starting College” on the Teenager’s With Experience website!