My parents said I was a calm baby. I hardly cried, although I hardly smiled too, they always knew what I wanted. When I was hungry, they knew. When I wanted my diaper changed, they knew. When I was happy to see them, they knew. That’s probably why we’re so close.
On my first day of kindergarten, I was over the moon with excitement, and so were my parents. I was excited to make new friends. To meet people. To see the world. And apparently, so was every other five-year-old. Everyone I met in class was just as happy. I made friends in no time. And I had a lot of fun.
But I remember, about two months after I started kindergarten, I heard my parents fighting at night. I didn’t understand what they were yelling at each other about, but it made me… not happy. I didn’t like the feeling, and I wasn’t used to it either. I went to school the next morning, and the class was chaotic. The teacher was grumpy, and everyone was being mean, or whiny, and that just made me feel worse. And the worse I felt, the worse the kids got. I spent most of that day under a table, and some poor kid went home with a bloody nose. It should have been one of the worst days of my life. But it wasn’t, because when my parents came to pick me up that day, they seemed as happy as usual. And they were.
Elementary School was fun sometimes, and sometimes it wasn’t. I had learnt my parents argued sometimes, but they still loved each other. Unfortunately, I hadn’t figured out other kids. Pretty much everyone was happy in kindergarten, but grade school was a wholly unfamiliar world. Some kids were angry all the time. Some looked sad. Others were happy. A lot of them were jumpy. There were just so many types of people. I loved it. I tried to make friends with everyone. But the jumpy kids tired me out, I always ended up fighting with the angry ones, and I felt sad when I sat with the sad kids. I had a lot of friends, and I guess I really liked them, but being around them was stressful.
Our sports festivals were the worst. The one we had in fourth grade was especially bad. Everyone was more competitive than usual, there was a lot of nervous vomiting, and the salty tears of people who lost were scattered all over the grass. I was exactly the same way: overly excited, vomiting, yelling, and crying. I had the worst headache when I got home. I asked my parents why I felt that way, and my dad said, “You just care a lot kiddo. It’s perfectly okay.”
“Yeah,” my mom chipped in. “There’s nothing wrong with being passionate.”
“You’re a sensitive kid is all,” my dad told me. And both of my parents were smiling so hard when they told me, I decided that it was a good thing.
In middle school, I was the “sensitive kid.” Nobody minded. The girls actually liked that for some reason, which is probably why I got a bunch of valentines in eighth grade. But my close friend, Jenny, didn’t get any. I thought Jenny was nice, and if I remember correctly, she was cute. But she wore glasses and braces, so the other kids made fun of her. Why? Middle school kids are like that. So on Valentine’s day, Jenny gave this other kid, Marcus, a card. He threw it back at her and called her ugly. Thank goodness I wasn’t there because I’m sure I wouldve punched his lights out. I actually almost did, because the three of us had math together later that day. I couldn’t stand his face, so I got up and started yelling at him. Everyone else got furious. Some other girls beat up Marcus, some beat up Jenny, and everyone just started fighting. The entire class got suspended. It was that day I realized just how sensitive I was, and how sensitive everyone else was. When I was angry, they were angry, and so on. After that total fiasco, Jenny transferred schools. And I and Marcus became sworn enemies. At least until summer came along.
I spent some time dreaming about how cool high school would be, and part of the summer, testing out my hypothesis. I went to public places and looked for people who seemed down. Then I’d stand or sit a little distance away from them and think happy thoughts. Eventually, the person smiled or laughed. It didn’t always work, but it worked most of the time. I had confirmed it. I could manipulate people’s feelings. Originally, I thought my newfound power was the coolest thing. But after a little over a week of making people happy, one of my favourite shows got cancelled. Being the sensitive guy I am, it made me beyond sad. And so for the next week, I made everyone else sad, even though I didn’t mean to. Even my parents. I decided I needed to learn to keep my emotions in check so I wouldn’t affect normal people. I spent the rest of my summer watching the saddest, bloodiest, happiest, funniest shows I could find while trying to suppress my emotions.
I think the binging went well because my first month of high school went off without a hitch. Until I got invited to a party by some tenth graders. The thing is, a lot of stuff happens at a high school party, and people feel a lot of things. See, I knew that the way I felt affected other people, but I didn’t know their emotions affected me too. That party was filled with drunk tenth graders, heartbroken teenagers, lustful girls and guys. It was so... much. And I felt it all at once. I blacked out. According to my ex-friends, I kissed a lot of people, punched a lot of people, and made even more stupid jokes. It was a disaster, especially when people realized I wasn’t drunk. I had more or less “committed social suicide,” or whatever.
That horribly embarrassing incident led to the rest of the semester spent trying to stop feeling other people’s feelings. And I’m not talking about empathizing with people. I could feel feelings, and it wasn’t comfortable. Like right after I wrote a test, I felt people’s disappointment, and that felt like wet socks.
Now I’m about to start eleventh grade, and I think I’ve gotten the whole not feeling thing down. At least I hope so because a gigantic building filled with hormonal teenagers and frustrated adults is not the safest place for me to be right now. Honestly, it’s not the safest for them either.
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