“I am not my withdrawal”

When you’ve been pushed around
When all your walls come down
And when they call you misfit
It’s hard to stop the rage…
…See the one nobody wanted
Shattered by a world of lies
See the misfit in the mirror die…
–Lesley Roy, “Misfit”

It’s always easiest for me to express myself in song lyrics. I think the word misfit is the most accurate one that describes me. I’ve probably been this way since I moved to New Jersey. My childhood was great—I had friends, people liked me—until fifth grade. I attended a public school, and the first way I realize that I didn’t fit in was my attitude towards school. I was, and still am, very serious about my education. As a younger child, I attended private and parochial schools overseas, where I was expected to be respectful and obedient. My first “misfit” memory over here was during my first week of school in third grade. A teacher entered the classroom to speak with my teacher; and I, because I was taught to, stood up and greeted her: “Good morning, Ms.—’’ Of course this let escape some titters among my classmates. My second memory at that school was in fifth grade, during a hiatus between teachers. I don’t even remember if we had a substitute teacher, or if we were unsupervised, because that was just as likely. A game of “Spin the Bottle” was on, apparently because that was what American ten-year-olds did at the time, and I sidled over, with no intent to join. My mother had taught me about all these practices growing up, so I honestly did not care for them. However, sensing my presence, one of the girls looked up and merely said: “If you can’t fit in, don’t sit in.” Thus began my solitude.

I’ll skip to college. I refer to myself as a misfit, because I just don’t fit in anywhere. I won’t attribute the problem to family issues, or psychological trauma. I feel more comfortable by myself. I’ve come to the point where I don’t even mind if I’m not invited to do something or go somewhere. Alone, I don’t have to worry about other people’s judgments or opinions. I can operate on my schedule and do activities that I actually enjoy, instead of standing around awkwardly at Terrace with whomever I came with so I don’t look too out of place. I am an introvert. I prefer to be able to write—songs, poems, anything—with soft music playing in the background. I would much rather read Jane Eyre in bed than be in a large crowd of people “dancing” to loud electronic music. At the risk of sounding cliché, I think that mixing and looping tracks—creating my own music—gets me just as happy as someone who has just returned from a night out on the Street, if not more so. My picture states that I feel as though I am unwanted: “I am not my withdrawal.” I’m not. My withdrawal has kept me happy (or as happy as possible away from my loved ones), sane, and out of therapy.