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The Blue and White

The Blue and White

Inner Monologues: Don’t Beat Yourself Up

“Focus. ”
“You’re failing.”
“You are 5 assignments behind.”
“Why are you failing?”
“What’s going on?”
“What happened?”

You know, when I was little I was always told I could do anything. That if I wish and work hard enough, things would come true. To live life to its fullest and never regret what you do as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. I believed every word and lived my tiny 5 year old life doing everything I wanted. I took ballet classes for a whole year and loved every second of it. It wasn’t advanced but the feeling of everything just disappearing and reappearing as I moved across the room was something I always try to recreate. I wanted to take ballet again and even wanted to be a ballerina, maybe even try tap dancing next year, but my mom said it was too expensive and so I never touched a pair of ballet slippers again. Though the steps are still engraved into my brain.

When I was 6 my elementary school had an art month where we did different art activities based on different artists and I loved it. Finger painting,the splatters,the pastels,the water colors, everything was a dream come true for little Iliana and it just got better when I was told that the principal wanted ME to make her a painting. I spent all recess,lunch and after school working on the pieces of color explosions,swirls and splatters. When I showed my teacher what I did, she told me the principal has already chosen another kid’s art piece and hung it in her office.
I hate having paint on my clothes.

At age nine I moved schools. Stuff got harder, math went from an obstacle to a literal needle in a haystack. I wasn’t an A student but I wasn’t bad either. My teacher’s didn’t like me but they didn’t hate me either. My friends didn’t appreciate me but they tolerated me. My school didn’t know me but they knew me. In fourth grade my teacher told me to apply for an academic program to help kids in school. I worked my butt off making my application essay the best thing in the world. My mom thought it was good, so did my dad, my teacher said it was “extraordinarily well written”. I believed them and myself.
They picked a girl with soft blonde hair and the most beautiful hazel eyes. Her grades were already so high up and lived in the better, cleaner side of the broken city. She already had it all.
I think that’s where the blocks started to tremble.

In sixth grade, my mom signed me up for violin and swimming lessons, two things I was iffy about. I already had trouble breathing from my nose and being left handed made things difficult already so of course things went south real quick. My swimming instructor called me a baby as she shoved my head into the pool. The violin instructor never liked me or my sister. Called me useless.
Nobody confirms or denies that statement.
I love swimming backwards out of spite for the swimming instructor. She never liked swimming backwards.

In seventh grade I met a boy and it was the first time I ever fell in love. I thought I was in love, I thought he loved me. I had my first kiss with him, it was supposedly to be perfect. It was supposed to feel like fireworks in your heart like in the movies. I was supposed to feel happy. So why am I not happy? Where were the fireworks? Why did I feel so dirty and violated? Why did I want to throw up and scrub away the feeling of his hands until it was only just a thought?
My friends were right. It was probably my fault.

In eighth grade, A’s were only but a dream. My parents stopped coming to the award ceremonies and I don’t blame them. However that year. My last year was when I really discovered my love for art. I participated in the poetry slam, the talent show,and the school choir. I started writing stories that my class loved to read together. Always asked for more and more the got. Art was never my escape; it was more of a welcoming hug and a warm hello. I felt like I could actually do something and be amazing at it.
My teachers knew me as the girl who joined every creative project and my parents were proud for a while. In graduation they wouldn’t stop talking about how I didn’t get anything but my diploma.
Art was the last thing I wanted to do then.

Now we’re in highschool. After eighth grade I moved cities and now I’m here. Things are better but situations are still oh so similar. My grades are decent, my friends tolerate me, and my teachers actually know me. Things were okay in the beginning but we always go back to square one. A kid started stalking me,another used me,and one made me feel like I lost everything after we cut strings and went our separate ways. I broke all those strings and I feel no remorse. I should;but when you feel like you’re suffocating, when you feel your entire being shut down from just the touch of someone holding your hand or face, that’s not healthy.
I had enough of feeling dirty and used that to protect myself, I had to barricade my happiness with anger. Was it the best idea? No, but at least no one hurt me but me.

Things were supposed to be easier, they said. All you have to do is turn in the assignments, they said. You’re right, it should be easy and it is but I just have to make it harder on myself. I complete the work and then what turn it in? Sure! But ope- I’ve been online too long, my sisters need me,I’ve got chores, my sisters don’t want me to leave, what time? Ope time to sleep. I lose points and my grade drops. I take a test? Cool! Open notes? Perfect. Oh, I got an F? Can I see what I got wrong? No, the test is closed? Oh no well there goes my grade.
I’m failing and it’s my fault.

When I was little I was told to be the best, to take every opportunity and go with it. But opportunities aren’t for everyone. Literally, they are rigged, and they tell you you are better and that you are amazing and all these wonderful words of encouragement only to trick you and make you feel like nothing. I wanted to be a veterinarian but my parents didn’t want to have any more pets. I wanted to be a ballerina but it was too expensive. I wanted to be a psychologist but apparently I’m too dumb to know how the mind works. And now that I really want to be something,when my only escape had to be the one thing that welcomed me home, it is only just a dream.

So it was never about being successful are living life to the fullest. It was only about the grades and the money and the “success” of finishing the hardest part of an even harder game.

You want me to be better? Why can’t I just be enough! Why does it feel like a competition of who gets to live a better life? Who gets to be successful? I just want to be me again! I want to be happy! I want to do what makes me happy and express myself in ways that art can and academics don’t.

I have met extraordinary people through art who love and appreciate me and my work and make me feel like I am doing a good job. I want this to be my life. I want to make stories and pictures and feel the world disappear and reappear with every blast of color. I want to be able to breathe and not feel like I’m underwater. I want to feel like my work is enough. Not better or number 1. Just enough.

This time it’s not a dream.

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    aaronApr 8, 2021 at 12:30 am

    I thought that this story was so specific and beautifully written. The crazy thing is that while feeling the same exact way, adults and teachers have a way of making you feel like it’s just you, like you’re the only one failing and its your fault bc of “work you didn’t do”. and i think it was so amazing of you to share something so personal, so now a lot more people won’t feel as alone when it comes to not being given the chances to better themselves or when it comes to feeling unaccomplished because people dismiss your passion or happiness for something you love. Great story!