The creaking steps whined under the weight of my uncertainty. My shallow breath squeezed in between the beating of my pounding heart. The ambient lighting of the stage did nothing to calm me. My stomach was shivering as I burned alive under a hundred eyes.
“You better go girl!”
“You got it Poet!”
“I like that skirt child!”, I looked down at my tie-dyed turquoise peasant skirt and I smiled. There was a folded parchment of paper with my poem on it. I looked into the audience and saw Rasheem's teeth, in the back row, big and glorious, smiling at me.
I didn’t think the words were good enough to let everyone hear them. I had the type of fearlessness that stayed inside closed doors. My tenacity was as ruthless as Old Lady Muriel's chihuahua— Yapping at everyone through the glass window, but hiding under the couch when company dared to make its way into the house.
This is it, this is your chance to show something the world something, don’t mess it up.
But I don’t even like this poem.
What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t understand it?
Its too late now,
The mic hiccuped as I lowered the stand to meet my 5 foot stature. I was stiff, but here was nothing, I was letting go.
“I can't say that sometimes....”
These were my words, I let them out into the world.
I remember learning about a girl in matter of seconds based on words that weren't hers. I was waiting for a lecture to start, so I opened my computer and went to my favorite website.
After a couple of clicks, I heard, “You have a Tumblr?”. I looked behind me to where the voice was coming from and was greeted by a smile.
32 brilliant,white teeth,were accompanied by frantic and hungry eyes. “You should follow me.”
“What’s your name?”
“Zip zip hooray.”
With a couple of clicks, I entered her world. Pictures of relationships, people wearing tank tops lined with crazy prints, cartoons, gifs, and quotes. Everything in her blog, including the layout ,spoke for what she liked or was fascinated by.
Then and there, I realized that Tumblr is an I.D. of who you are, or rather who want to be. There is something magical about it. Even when words and thoughts aren’t your own, they say so much about you. So what happens when they're your own?
Every tap-tap around me gnawed at my insides, the pitter-pattering of 32 sets of fingers on keyboards drove me crazy, this topic was too broad. My water bottle broke the monotonous daze with a loud crack as I nervously sipped. My thoughts were as dry as my throat.
The cursor on the screen was the only eye on me. Everyone else was too intent on their work to care what anyone else was doing. They were bent over, eyes focused, backs hunched as if they were unloading the heavy words from their backs onto their fingers.
My mind was blank. Okay, it was swarming with ideas, but none of them were good enough. They whizzed by as if on a conveyor belt. My brain picked through every detail of every topic, always finding something wrong with the thesis; nothing was good enough. They were all either too generic, too obvious, or too personal. My hands remained dormant on my keyboard, waiting for a command.
I stared at the closed window blinds and rested my head on the clammy wooden desk. My heart pounded along with the click clacking of the ideas flowing around me. I looked up and the poster-plastered walls showed no sympathy. The warm air in the room wrapped around my shoulders, urging me to give up and doze off for the remainder of class.
“Five more minutes for writing”, his voice tinged with expectation called out and retrieved me from my stupor.
Why was I trying so hard to reach inside of myself? It was only an English paper that my class would see. Not a poem on the stage, not a song to sing. There was hardly any room for judgement, but I sat there, racking my brain for something I cared about. This was my piece and it wasn’t that I cared what anyone thought of me, I just wanted them to have an accurate reference of which to base their judgements. I was a good good enough writer to churn out what this man was asking for in a day. It would be quality work, but it wouldn’t have been a clear representation of me.
The self-scrutinization of my work is partly because I'm OCD, but we live in a society where it isn't hard to guess what will happen next. I've always felt the pressure to push myself in writing because my words, even when I do not necessarily care where they end up, need to be my best. I want them to stand out and mean something to me because there's no need to
I always want to be ahead of the curb and make everything my own. We live in a population where with the click of a button, we can judge one another's deepest or shallow thoughts. Make what you say count.