I wanted to be just like them. No, wait. That would be an understatement. I wanted to be them. One of them.
Of course I couldn't.
They were sassy, fun-loving, crazy and wild. The typical popular girls. I would never be like them. I was quiet, timid, cowardly. I didn't dare speak up but I knew there was a crazy and wild part of me I could sure show them if only I had some confidence.
My friends who know me inside out tell me "Just be yourself!" but every time I tried that nothing works out. I go weirdly crazy and hyper. Weird in the bad way, not the good way. (That's how Cat, one of the popular girls, puts it) I rattle off things I don't even know half of what I mean. The words just escape my lips, manufactured from the fiery desire to be noticed and the desperateness of simply being one. Of. Them.
It was only the first week of secondary school that has passed and I was already failing big-time. Oh, gosh. I thought secondary school life was going to be better, lovelier, more exciting than primary school…
I cross my fingers. Don't worry, Anthea...I think to myself. You still have ten more months in this school… There's still hope…
Nah, a nasty voice in my head snickers. Ten more months of suffering. You're not cool, Anthea. Stop trying so hard. Get used to it.
I march off to school the next morning with my torn hot pink schoolbag from primary school. When I reach class, I smile at the people I know, but for some reason they treat it like I spat at them.
"Oh my gosh, I can't stand Anthea's schoolbag," There goes Wen Xi, one of the loud giggly girls. She sniffs loudly in displeasure. Her friends giggle and tell her to be polite, but she makes another rude joke and they laugh again. I turn over and grin at them. At least they've noticed me and were willing to talk about me. You can bet that made me feel real cool.
Wen Xi, Cat and their friends were gathered round a desk and playing the paper origami folding games, where you choose a colour or number and get your fate or dare. That was exciting. They're playing the game, doubled over with laughter. There were six of them : Wen Xi, Cat, Tiffany, Melanie, Sheryl and Maxine. Oh boy, oh boy! I could just walk right over, pull a chair and plop myself right next to them and join in the game. I don't think they'll snap, "Get lost!" anyway.
Do it! Have confidence! I urge myself silently. But I don't dare walk right over. What if they do snap at me? What if they ignore me? (I had a mortal fear of being ignored.) What if…
Suddenly I heard my name called out among them and they howl with laughter. Pride seeps through me and colours my cheeks game… related to me? The mere thought now boosted my confidence. I drew a deep breath and scuttled over excitedly, a smile pulling at my lips. "Hey! Can I play?"
They exchange glances with each other and erupt in laughter again. "Oh, and I heard my name in it too…" I add, perplexed.
"What? No, we're not that mean," Tiffany voices out, waving a dismissive hand at me. Her friends chorus in agreement. Huh? I never said they were mean… Was it meant to be a jeer to me then? My heart beats a little faster.
They continue playing with each other and ignore me as I stand awkwardly there, trying to make some sense of the situation. I pick up one of the paper origami and open up to the "Fate/Dare" parts.
No doubt, there my name was. It read "Your personality is like Anthea. (bad)"
I felt half relieved and half pained. Relief because it wasn't directly saying I was dumb or weird, but pain because there was a "bad" there. My fingers press harder on the paper, and a slow, dark flush seeps through my face. It really hurt. I read the others. "You love Cat. (bad)"
It made me a little heartened to see a "bad" imprinted for Cat as well, but I knew I was just lying to myself if I thought that way. Everyone loved Cat the way anteaters love ants. When she did naughty things like steal someone's pencil case for half a day or eat half of someone's lunch when they went to the loo, people just laughed it off and loved Cat even more. I really didn't understand the logic. The reason was probably because she was Cat. If I ever did anything like Cat people'll probably have my head for it and despise me for ten years. Because I was Anthea.