6:30 PM— I stand by the LRT station waiting for the train that’ll take me home. Time is fleeting. And I fidget at the thought of my mom scolding me again by the time I get home. I see shadows across the monotonous platform. Involuntarily, I sway & see my shadow stand out from the multitude. I move again & it also did. I stare at it. I repeat the cycle for God knows how many & before I knew it, people were gawking at me with awkwardness. I shook. And for the last time, I look at my shadow. But I see something more. My reputation.
It’s funny how people tend to judge books by its cover. Reputations are like shadows. People see you completely akin to it, but it’s actually not like that. There’s more to that than what meets the eye.
The outer appearance initially puts up your reputation, especially to people who don’t really know you. Way back in grade school, I was the focal point of bullying by my ‘popular’ classmates. I was small. Had pale white skin, an annoyingly squeaky voice & even a naturally gauche stature to boot. Boys thought I was gay & girls thought I was a loser.
High school came & it even got worse. I grew pimples. I was instructed to wear prescription glasses & I weighed like an elephant. If you’re good-looking, you’re famous. And if you’re ugly, you’re practically useless. Your looks literally can make you or break you. Everything was so frivolously superficial. It’s unfair to the point where it hurts.
You’d think I would just sulk in a corner & bawl my eyes out at the fraudulent reality, wouldn’t you? But that was the exact opposite of what I did. The wrong reputations those nasty bastards gave me impelled me to do better. I knew that I just had to prove them wrong. They didn’t know me. It is only I who knew who I really am. Therefore, it is only I who has the right to decide what I can do & what I can’t.
I transferred schools during my junior year. And with that, a new ‘me’ emerged. I was treated entirely reversed to that of my past school. It was as if the wheels have turned 180 degrees. What made it so surprising was the fact that I never really changed. I was just the improved version of myself. I just shied away from my old introverted self & introduced the world to the much more confident me.
Eventually, before high school got to end, I ended up bagging 8 medals at graduation. I was also a consistent honour student during my senior year & I even got to forge two great relationships with two amazing girls. Turns out, the one deemed as a ‘bullied gay loser’ in elementary was nothing much like that.
In time, I was able to put up my reputation. And with that, expectations from my family & the people close to me soared high too. But y’know what? Expectations equate to bullcrap & reputations are nothing but problem. You will never ever get satisfied with proving your haters better. This is human nature. Ladies & gentlemen, this is what we call life.
I have no regrets though. I wouldn’t have lived my life the way I did if I was going to worry about what people were going to say. ‘Coz in the end, you are measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish. This is me. All or nothing.