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Merciful Eyes

April 8, 2008

Does anyone besides me every have these moments where you remember embarrassing things you said or did in the past, and just cringe for your past self and your awkwardness? I’ve been having a day like that today, when even years of distance do not take away the sting of all the words I’ve said that I wish I hadn’t. They come rushing back unbidden, embarrassing conversations I’ve forgotten about for ages.

If I visited junior high again (not that I’d want to; did anyone escape from junior high unscathed? It’s the armpit of life, the smelly casino of my existence), then I remember the way I used to keep track of what I wore, every day, to see how long I could go without wearing something different. That seems so petty to me now (although, to be fair, I should keep better track of what I wear). But it gets better (worse?)–this boy I had a crush on, I used to keep track of what he wore, every day. Why on earth would you do that? Such a stalkerish thing to do. Obsessive as only a thirteen-year-old girl could be. I hope. But even when we did not have a class together, I searched the crowd for him and made a mental note of what he wore that day. And compared it with the day before. And pondered which color suited him best. Cringe, cringe, cringe.

But that is the most piddling of junior high embarrassments, nothing compared to all the things I prefer not to delve into. Sadly, my repertoire of painful take-back-the-words moments extends far past junior high and well into… now.

Does it give me any comfort that other people may have them too? Yes and no. Once, in junior high again, I was complaining about my sewing teacher to another girl in my ward. “But she likes you!” the girl answered. “How do you know?” I asked. “Well, I was in there, and your name was on the board. And [insert names of two cute popular girls there] came by and said, ‘Ewww, Emily!'” And the teacher said, “I like her.”

I think I’ve never been so deeply depressed in my life as I was for the weeks after I heard the girl say that. I walked around in a black, hormonal fog. Everything I had always suspected about the people around me was true–they really did hate me. It wasn’t just in my head. Overhearing that comment made me even more determined than I had been that I should not allow people into my heart, into my life, because I could not trust them to be kind. Awkward as I was, i needed kindness. But, especially now, I did not believe it existed.

It took me years to get over that enough to trust people again. That sounds silly, I guess; I should have let it roll off my back. But I didn’t; I didn’t know how. Thinking of it now, though, I wonder if the girls who said it look back on their junior high days and cringe too, wish that they could go and undo their words. One day, we will see eye to eye, and I hope I find mercy in their eyes, and they find it in mine.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2008 5:13 am

    this post didn’t remind me of my cringe-moments, which are many, but of the fact I did work out a system for non-repeating outfits in Junior High. I made a chart of all the passable combinations of my shirts with my pants or skirts, and calculated how many outfits I could do with what I had.

    I had totally forgotten about this, especially since I have become a fan of the uniform. I wear the same outfit two or three days in a row, and in the last couple years, I buy two or three of anything I’m going to buy, so I can keep going in the same outfit, just swapping out the shirt or jeans the salsa got spilled on. But that’s one of the pleasures/drawbacks of being a SAHM. No one’s watching you anymore.

  2. May 28, 2008 8:56 pm

    I actually felt like I was in Junior High again today. Unfortunately, I’ve brought socially awkward into my adulthood too.

    Today I basically invited myself along with two other ladies and their kids to go swimming. I didn’t realize how much I tagged along until their husbands showed up ready for the ‘couple date’ that they were having at one of their houses. AND it’s fine. Not a big deal. But, sometimes I forget what it feels like to be in Junior high. Which most of the time is a very good thing.

    And I kept track of my clothes in college although never anyone else’s. That’s classic.

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