Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.
By Daniella Pozo
The other day I was waiting for the train, minding my own business and worrying about my hair. It was puffy and frizzy and I was convinced that everyone was judging me for me. Hell, I was judging myself for it. After I gave up on trying to make it seem like I didn’t just wake up, I started looking at the people around me on the platform as I usually do.
There was a man in a colorful jacket, glasses and short cropped salt and pepper hair. He looked lively even in his old age and I guessed that he was listening to jazz in his ear buds. There was a little boy and a woman with him. He had on a black coat and a hat with cartoon characters on it. I could tell he was a sweet boy because he kept smiling and going on about how much he loved the women accompanying him. There was a woman with wet curly hair and a black bag in her hand, concentrating hard on her Snapchat stories and selfies.
When the train came I sat next to the Snapchat-crazed women and her annoyingly loud videos. I popped in my headphones and started listening to The Killers. I stared at the nose piercing of the women in front of me. Mentally comparing the nose ring size and shape to that of my sister’s.
Then I began eyeballing the woman next to me, she’s the same woman I saw earlier looking at her Snapchat. She kept checking her social media accounts and I was very much reminded of my father who spends his nights at home obsessing over his friends’ photos and amount of likes on Facebook. He just sits in a chair for hours at time, unaware of the real world.
Then I stared at the bald man sitting in front of me. He had on sweatpants and a sweatshirt and I felt like I could relate because I also had on sweats— like I always do. He had stubble both on his head and on his face. He was listening to music and looked peaceful.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a soda can. It was a ginger ale can and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that someone drank out of it and just threw it on the ground. It kept rolling towards one door and then retreating towards the middle or towards another side of the car. Never completely reaching anyone’s foot. Never completely touching a pole or stopping underneath all of the seats. Always approaching, but never fully getting there.
For a moment, as I was watching the can I saw myself reflected in it. Not in the literal sense where I saw my physical reflection but more in the sense that I never get too close to people. I have friends that I talk to, about superficial things, funny moments, memes, flannels, those sort of things. Although they know some of my secrets and vice versa, we don’t talk about things that are serious and I don’t ever allow myself to talk about the serious things. It’s much easier to talk about the cute and funny things and pretend that nothing is wrong and I’m perfectly happy.
Then there’s my parents. We are all opinionated people but my parents tend to agree with each other and their shared opinion usually clashes with mine. I try to get close to them and we end up arguing or I ended up being insulted. That’s when I back up and try it with someone else.
The next person I try would be my therapist. I sit in her little office on her two seat couch. Two seats because the therapist before her is a couples therapist. The empty seat makes me feel lonely from time to time.
I try to push myself to open up and talk about my fears and my feelings and the stuff that I need to talk about but can’t seem to bring myself to talk about it out loud. Jennifer, my therapist, reminds me time and time again that therapy is a “safe space” and that what I say will “never leave the room.” Yet, everytime I open my mouth to spill my guts, it’s like I get a giant knot in my throat and can’t talk. It’s like the train moves and I approach another corner.
The simplest answer for why this happens is because my personal life is hard to talk about. I don’t want people judging me for the problems that I have and I don’t want to look weak because I have a problem. My therapist has a theory that somewhere over the course of my life I learned to not talk about myself. This theory makes sense but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment of my life when I learned this.
I try talking about my parents and my overeating and my social anxiety and every other thing that’s wrong with me. Sometimes I’ll bring myself to talk about everything during that forty-five minute session. Those days I feel proud of myself for fully reaching a corner. Then I’ll feel overwhelmed by what I’ve shared. I’ll shake and cry and have to go on a walk. Sometimes I’ll get a huge lump in my throat that feels like I accidently swallowed a gumball instead of chewing it and then I can’t talk. Mostly, I just sit there a few feet from her and talk about all the superficial stuff.
So, yes– I feel like a soda can on the train. Rolling between four corners but never fully arriving anywhere. Sometimes I’ll try to be the friend that everyone laughs at but who is also comfortable sharing secrets, but of course that won’t work, so I’ll try to be the family-friendly teen who has vivid discussions and valuable family time. That ends up being a flop, so I’ll try to be a person who is open with her therapist and trying to work through her problems.
When all else fails I return to the center of the train car, where I can be alone, with my thoughts. Until I’m rolling towards another side again.
Daniella Pozo is a socially awkward teen with a taste for coffee. She loves reading, history and getting ear piercings. We are thrilled to include her essay in our Young Voices series.