I’m a good person. I’ve got a purpose in this world, this discombobulating but worth-it world. I’m a good person. I remind myself that I’m a good person at least twice a week, usually while I’m driving home from work. I’m a good person. I’m a good person. Despite these affirmations, don’t be fooled. I really am a good person—it’s just that I love to be reminded that I’m a good person. Let me explain.
From the time I was five, I was a bookworm. I didn’t have a stupendous reading level or anything like that. I just usually had a book in my backpack, most likely Goosebumps or one of the Boxcar Children mysteries. I didn’t socialize at the bus stop. I only read, my ankles always crossed, as if I constantly had to protect myself from something or someone. I was a good student, mostly A’s and the occasional B or two. I couldn’t stand constant adoration from teachers and the stares from students. Sucking at long division and decimals was quite the relief—I can’t tell you how good it felt to suck at something.
So the not so good side of me? I cheated on some assignments, at least nine of them. From the time I was in elementary school to the time that I finished high school. Why did I do it? I was afraid of failure, of being the girl that my mother could no longer rely on.
I had failed plenty in the past. I failed at making friends, I failed because I gave into peer pressure, and I failed because I let these two girls bully me at my own eleventh birthday party. I thought that I was one submissive, insecure, little failure. I thought that’s how it always would be.
It feels so good to write these words. It has taken me thirteen years to realize that I’m no longer the insecure academic who can’t face her mother. I came clean to my mother a long time ago. I never knew communication could be so meditative. Communication really is. It’s meditative. I don’t journal, but I take a few minutes every day to focus on my breathing. I do a few simple yoga poses, and I just decompress in solitude.
It’s taken me a long time to be able to write this next sentence. I LIKE MYSELF. I like the fact that I have loud opinions and that I stand up for myself now. My opinions are unpopular—they’ve cost me, family and friends. I believe that everyone deserves equal rights, and I believe that women ought to be able to control their own bodies. I’m really not being political. I’m being a kind person. I’m standing up for the rights of others because I’ve finally learned how to stand for myself.
How did I go from cheating to bringing up issues that spark nasty debates? It’s easy: I grew up. The things that I cared about have changed. I no longer have to devote my attention to my mistakes. I plan to devote my attention to writing, to the environment, to female empowerment, to gymnastics at twenty-five, to my cat, to traveling, to loving, to living, to loving living. I am a changed person. I am a good person. I LIKE WHO I AM.
- Anj. A