Everyone has their own insecurities they deal with from day to day. They’re these invisible beings that follow us around and silently whisper in our ears our mistakes, inabilities, and least favorite parts of ourselves just in case we’ve forgotten.
I picture a crowd of people dressed in work suits, faces pale and clothes black and white, standing behind me as I go through the events of the day with a common goal of keeping me in line. Their faces remain cold and stale as they one by one walk behind me, bend close to the side of my face and whisper so nobody can hear but me: There’s no point in trying. You’ll never be that important.
The crowd keeps their distance with their faces pointed in my direction, ready to quickly step forward and address the possible situation where I am destined to screw something up. They remind me about my body and how imperfect I am. Nobody wants a girl with your shape. You look terrible, don’t even try to stand out even more than you already do. All you should do is blend in.
It doesn’t matter who I’m with or where I am, they will always be there beside me ready to give their feedback and to keep me still. They may be invisible and a figment of my imagination but they are very real. You may never see them. You may never come to understand why I view them as business people standing in a tight cluster behind me, hands by their sides, faces drained and emotionless, bodies plain and lackluster.
I imagine them walking with slow strides a few feet away as I stroll down the street. When I come across an obstacle (be it an instance of random communication with someone on the sidewalk or looking into a glass window where my reflection stares back at me) they’re always right behind me as a reminder of conformity and to keep me from breaking my insecurities.
Standing out means you will be even more of a freak. Your family is already disappointed in you. You never do anything right by their standards. You’re a disgrace and don’t deserve to be happy. Just stop trying to be yourself, you’ll get nowhere.
No matter if I’m dancing, singing, drawing, writing, blogging, acting, or simply talking, I can feel their presence while one of them slowly steps towards me, their silent breath against my ear and their menacing words that rope around my neck like a noose and tighten until any thought of the action I was about to take part in is cut off as breathless air. But their job isn’t to kill me. They don’t wish to see me fade away into oblivion, that would be too easy. They keep my anxiety level high and my inner thoughts low, just enough to where I feel lost and alone in a world where people are very present and willing to offer a helping hand. They just want to see me suffer.
But what is it about conformity? We all become one another, clones with similar thoughts and behaviors. We will come to love each other for our similarities but will never come to love ourselves for our differences. It’s a strange idea that our goal in life is to fit in, but it’s even more difficult to break free from the ‘norm’ and be someone different.
The shadow like business people that follow me may never go away. Their faces may never break a smile and their foggy demeanor may never shift, but maybe their cluster will loosen just enough to where I can just slip by.