Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I am the poster child for negative self-absorption.

I had to walk through our cafeteria today.

I needed to walk some DVDs over to security and the shortest route is cutting through both dining rooms and then on through the doors on the far side.

It was traumatic to say the least.

I kept my head down.  I never looked up once as I bravely strode across hostile territory-a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I’m a grown woman. But when I have to walk through a room full of people I am transported right back to 6th grade.

After lunch, we would line up and walk back down to our 6th grade pod.  In order to get back we had to walk through the library.  I could feel the bile rise in my throat as we would approach the first stack of books and would gird my loins against the attacks of the big kids (7th graders) that were there for study hall.

The attacks were only in my mind of course.

 But the stares were real. 

All eyes would look up as we passed and the giggles would begin.  The stifled snorts of laughter that I just knew were aimed at my homespun, orange double-knit pants.  The sneers directed at my buck teeth.  I could feel my face begin to flame as I imagined them pointing. (Imagined because I would never dream of actually looking up)

I convinced myself that I was the object of that laughter.

..though there was never any proof.

Just as I convinced myself that when a cute boy smiled at me in class one day, that he was actually making fun of me.   I just knew that his buddies put him up to it as a joke.

… though there was never any proof.

I guess that’s when I started down my path of self-deprecation.  Beat ‘em to the imagined punch-get the added bonus of everybody thinking I'm funny-the relief of being laughed with not at.

…and yes there is a difference.

Funny, isn’t it, what shapes your personality? 

So today I walked back to my office pod from security the long way-avoiding a return trip through the cafeteria.  I convinced myself it was for exercise.

My little 6th grade self knew it was to avoid the stares and giggles of 7th graders disguised as adult professionals.

For those of you hoping I would finish this little post by bravely walking back through, looking up, and overcoming my fears-I’m afraid I’ve disappointed you.

Because by the time I had chatted up security and regaled the receptionist with my latest stalest punny joke, I had convinced myself that the stares I felt on me, and the raucous lunchtime laughs, were actually comments on the size of my ass.

…though there was never any proof.

1 comment:

LeeAnn said...

When I was 13 I went to my dad and begged for braces, convinced my teeth were so bucky I looked like a demented rabbit. "I'm so ugly!" I wailed. "No" he said. "They won't help."
TWENTY years later I learned he meant my teeth would straighten themselves out in time, as they did.
But all that time I was convinced, absolutely convinced, I was at worst ugly, at best plain.
I have never, except for about 4 years in my 30s, believed otherwise since.
It lingers. I hear you loud and clear.