The year of everybody else

I didn't get into the school magazine, but my classmate did. He was this big guy, literally, who seemed to have so many friends. While he was being surrounded by girls and chatting about whatever's on the charts, I was this kid who struggled starting over in a new environment. Making friends was one thing. Dealing with bullies was another. It was worse considering I thought I was good at some things - in this case, writing - and suddenly I wasn't good enough for them. Perhaps they didn't care as much for the bus drivers who brought them to campus.

But I had more pressing problems to deal with - difficulties adjusting, a crush on a seatmate, the pack of bullies that seem to increase every minute, and falling frades - so, never mind the magazine, I'll just get on to work. Never mind if I don't get to spend my idle time inside the small publication office. At least I found myself the librarians, and the guidance counselors, and before I knew it, I was having something to look forward to.

Anyway, this classmate of mine who got in, well, he found the need to speak to me in the way he's been privileged to do. I was, after all, craving for attention; all I wanted was for everyone to hear my story, of looking for friends and beating everybody else, in a world that ironically couldn't care less.

"Read my article," he told me. "It's dedicated to you."

The magazine came out, and amidst the amateur (or ugly) layout, there it was. It was a ditty about being yourself. Back then it was a fairly new concept - then again, there were the Sprite ads which launched Toni Gonzaga's career - so it was a revelation of sorts. All my childhood I was out trying to impress everyone, following the rules and keeping yourself in check and all that. Well, I still had to keep myself in check, but there's no need to conform to others just to be accepted. A bit of advice from someone who's got so many friends? Maybe it'd work.

Looking back eight years later, it's ultimately a big piece of hypocrisy. Before I was given the boot in September, the people who inexplicably ganged up on me grew. I was already sounding desperate - I wasn't tweaking anything, but I wasn't conforming either; I just wasn't doing stuff that they considered weird as often. (Or, ask Regine. She probably knows more now that I've repressed that age.) A few started listening to my stories, but it felt like a lost cause with each passing day. As for this guy, who extolled the virtues of being yourself in order to gain acceptance from others, well, turns out he hated me a lot. Even my sister wasn't saved by his theatrics. Or, should I say, her theatrics.

Everybody is a hypocrite. Everybody will tell you that it's okay to be you, but to be honest, they couldn't be bothered. Once you don't pass their criteria, you'll be quickly passed over. I think I've heard this too many times. Either I'm too weird, or too cynical, or too noisy. Either I should go out more often, or drink tequila and vodka more, or smoke a couple of sticks (or packs). A common affinity, of course, is needed to make things a little better, but more often than not, you've got to do something to be able to get their thumbs up. Say, read up on your pop culture, watch episodes of Weeds online, or act just a bit more gay.

I've been successful, though, to some extent. I got out of hell and got myself back to normal in no time. I found friends along the way, or at the very least, people who listen to my stories, although I still think that they're either annoyed at my presence, or another person is. (I can hear the words "stay away from my girlfriend, you goofball" echoing.) Eight years only pressed, however, the idea that if you're a little different, you'll obviously be thrown out from the crowd, rather than merely naturally isolated from it. They just can't be bothered taking you in and figuring you out. They'll just say something like "I hate guys who like me" and then shun you. Boom. Story's over.

"People are hypocrites," I told Ella last night.

"Of course," she agreed. Thankfully. "But don't forget na not all people are the same, just like your fingers when you spread your hands."

Suddenly I thought nobody would ever agree with me. This cynicism will last forever.

This year, like every other year, is the year of everybody else. It sucks to be me, and I'm sure you think it sucks to be you. You supply the conclusion. I can't think of any.

And your responses...

True, true. Gaining widespread acceptance involves, in large part, pretending to be somebody you're not. In the words of an optimist, friendship requires you to get out of your way to do something you normally wouldn't do - and become "a better person" in the process. Whatever that means.

I think the two concepts cannot be married. Getting four hundred ninety-eight friends on a friendster account means a lot of pretensions. Means not standing up for who you really are. Means a lot of superficiality. When all is said and done, and I'm sure you'll agree, it isn't worth it.

You don't be yourself to be accepted by everyone. You be yourself to be yourself. Period. If you've already earned yourself a handful of people who sincerely love you for it, why does it matter if there's some freaks who don't?

Anonymous Anonymous1/25/2009     

[Carry-over comment from my blog after having finished reading yours]

After reading your entry, I get it. I think.

No, it wasn't intended for you, but since it somehow wound up becoming just that, well, I think the answer to the last question, in your case, would be, no; if you've already done your part and they still choose not to acknowledge it, making further sacrifices isn't worth it. I don't know what the others have been telling you, but in my opinion, the problem's with them, not with you.

Anonymous Anonymous1/25/2009     

yay my reply na ako panibago; agree ako sa sinabi mo sa last part!!

Blogger N.1/26/2009     

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