I am sure nobody has ever been alright on their first day of senior year in high school. I am no exception, except my anxiety is probably a thousand times more than an average student’s. Racing heart? Check. Fast breathing? Check. Fumbling steps? Check.
Walking into the new school, I pull the sleeves of my shirt, bringing the hem up to my fingers. I repeat my mantra in my head: Do not let them see. Do not let them know.
The day ends smoothly; nobody bullies me, nobody calls me a freak, and nobody sees it. Instead, I make new friends, but again, you never know.
One day down, about 364 more to go.
The next day, I walk to class, my eyes on the white and blue floor tiles. Do not let them see. Do not let them know. Do not – Slam! I crash into a solid wall, lose my balance, and fall. Ugh! Could this be more embarrassing? It turns out to be mortifying.
The solid wall – Mr. Smith – gasps as his eyes fall on the raised scars on my wrist. I quickly pull the sleeve lower and look away.
“Ms. Johnson, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.”
“No, I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking.” My eyes focus on my boots.
“I’d like a word with you. Let’s go to my office.”
I silently follow, digging my fingers in my fist, the slight pain from my nails not even registering in my mind. I tried. I tried to stay away from their judgement. Moving, changing schools, it was all for nothing. They saw. They know.
“Please take a seat.” His voice breaks through my thoughts. “Ms. Johnson, Mrs. Miller is the school therapist. I would like you to schedule an appointment with her.”
And that is how my life changes a second time, but this time, it is for the better.
About 364 days later, on my first day of college, I am nervous. My heart races, but my chin is up. My breathing is fast, but my lips curve in a smile. I am alright.