On Being Judged

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""She was understandably angry. Everyone she knew had some sort of comment to make and she was fed up of hearing them. She knew, too, where this anger came from – the fact that people judged her when they did not know. She walked through the hallways, well aware that she was under the mock-watchful, sneering gaze of the others, all looking at her as though she were a criminal. She wished she could just go up to one of them, shake them by the shoulders and explain why she did what she did. But no, that was her little secret. She didn’t see any point in explaining her choices, for that, in her eyes, would make it seem like she had done it just so she could boast of it.

True, she was not perfect. None of us are. She tried to hide behind the things she said, not wanting anyone to know the way she felt. She was scared of being judged a coward, an emotional wreck. She who viewed the world as one giant melting pot of emotions and who could not understand it differently also could not understand now why she was being ridiculed. She had been told time and again to "grow up" and "become one of them." Needless to say, she saw no point in becoming one of anyone. She just couldn’t understand what meaning lay behind the substance abuse her friends so frequently indulged in.

So she did not partake in it. She went to parties and pretended she was having a nice time, all the while wondering when the time would come for "them" to begin making fun of her. She knew that this was not where she belonged; this was not how she was. She kept thinking of her old friends, her old life – and wondered ever so often what they would say if they saw her now. Perhaps they’d be happy for her, in their characteristic, accepting way, if they felt she’d found happiness too. But mostly they’d see right through her and wonder why she tried to fit in where she did not belong, and where the people did not really want her to belong the way her old friends did. They would shake their heads in pity at how she was trying to run away from herself, she thought. But then she pushed this thought to the back of her mind, and returned to the party.

She thought back too to when it was time for her to choose between her old friends and her new ones. How realization had slowly and surely dawned that she was far better off where she came from than where she had reached. How she rejected an "important" invitation, one that would probably have stopped "their" ridicule once and for all if she’d accepted it and tried to be one of them. And how she chose instead to go back and visit an old friend who was terminally ill.

She was the talk of the school the next day. More people were sneering at her than ever before, or so it seemed. Her rejection of the invitation seemed to have led to a mass rejection of her throughout the school. She told herself that she did not care, that what she did was more important to her than trying to fit in where she could not belong. But the whispers continued – "She thinks she’s too cool for them."

That made her angry, yes it did. It was all well for them to talk. None of them knew why she had turned down an invitation. None of them knew that she had not only rejected them, but also gone back to her old friends. None of them had been in her shoes, perhaps, and felt the pain of not belonging. None of them knew what it was like to leave behind one life and come into another, trying all the while to show that your loyalties were stronger on one side than the other. None of them had felt the shame she felt when she rejected her old friends, and the guilt that washed over her when she did not acknowledge them any more because she wanted to be known as too good to be seen with geeks like them.

None of them knew how hard it was to go back and know that she’d be accepted by the very same people who had pulled her through the emotional turmoil of growing up, after which she had discarded them, simply because they wanted to "grow up" a little slower than the others. None of them knew that in a way, being accepted back by her old friends was the worst of all pain, for she realized full well that she had not been there for them the way they were for her.

In the sea of all these emotions, she felt anger too. Anger because none of the people who judged her knew what she was going through. They simply discarded her as a reject, not stopping to think for a minute that it was indeed difficult for her to make the choice that she had. But there was, as she knew full well, nothing she could do about it, and so she merely held her head high and walked on.

Author: Kimberly Fernandes- Qatar

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