My story

I’m intense and eccentric because my perception of things is something I’ve built out of deduction, experiments, intuition. My energy has always been akin to a whiplash ; I make people driving on the fast lane slam their brakes real hard. I don’t know why that is. Often it’s a perplexed amusement, like wuh? Other times it’s impressed amazement. More often than not it’s embarrassing. Or at least, I feel embarrassed because of their reaction (or lack thereof). I’ve never ever set out to stand out. I’ve always tried to be invisible my whole life because attention has always reflected back to me what I’ve always felt; that I’m an alien. I’ve tried to fit in, belong, have a predictable trajectory in any part of my life.

But no. It’s caused me to resist myself the most, let people lead the way before I reveal too much of myself. I perfected the art of sharing a lot without sharing anything of myself. I adapt to the situation and the person I’m connected to, via empathy, and I relate on their level. Not in a way where I dumb myself down, no. Just that I’m really good at active listening, and I absolutely love it, don’t get me wrong. I love the feeling people get of comfort and relief and relaxation knowing that not only can they let their hair down without me looking at them funny, but I actually get them.

But people never notice how I hide in plain sight. I enter their fields so that the distances between us isn’t noticed. I’m connected to them but they aren’t connected to me. I’m hardly connected to me. Well, that’s been changing in the past 2 years.

But apart from the enigma, I always dreaded reaching the end of the world one day, you know? I’ve always been afraid of sharing something that no one would get, and that would be the drawing in the sand that would forever isolate me from the world. You can’t unsee that. You can’t unlearn that. And while now as an adult I can risk that existential scenario, as a child that was the scariest prospect.

I always stayed well within the lines because I knew I didn’t fit in and I was so fearful that others would clock that and oust me for not belonging…

Once in 3rd grade, we got maths homework to do over the weekend. A couple of pages, nothing major. Somehow I got lost in the flow and I ended up finishing the entire book! When I saw what had happened, I was not only pleasantly surprised because I had pushed the envelope but I was genuinely excited to find out what my teacher’s reaction would be. I had crossed over into a new territory that I didn’t know the name of. I needed her to orient me.

Monday rolls around and I eagerly wait for Jane, the red-haired freckled monster, to come into the class. I offered her a world of potential and hope and her response set the tone for the rest of my life. She was irate that I hadn’t followed her exact instructions, and in front of everyone she ordered me to sit there and erase all the extra work I had done. Time stopped and my head was about to blow with the changing dimensions. I didn’t know what was happening, so I internalized it. I swallowed the bomb and let it go off inside me. I took it on the chin, hunkered down and went at it. Somehow I dissociated from the giggles and glares of my classmates. It was my fault. I felt so stupid. I will never do that again.

I’ve tried to be a grateful and easy guest. Always adjusting myself like an AC on a hot day. The clink of ice cubes in the glass, not yet melted. The point between boring and weird, that’s where I camped out.

It doesn’t matter now, because I’ve lept over that edge of world, edge of chaos, into the void that made me put up with tyranny. I keep asking Allaah to keep my soul whole and to allow me to survive this disintegration. And if not, there’s always akhirah. There’s always akhirah for me to belong in…

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