Saturday, August 12, 2017

Graduation, Smaduation

Yay for Senior Year!

Way back in Freshman Year, I wanted to graduate early. Had I gone through with it, I would have bypassed a ton of crap in High School, but I’m glad I didn’t. In fact, I think had I graduated early life would have been worse. I had Layla and Page as friends instead of my being a total social outcast because I was so ahead in school.

Anyways. Senior Year!

Page had gone to online school Junior Year, but had come back for orchestra—thank the stars.

This year I also dropped out of orchestra. No longer was it a safe haven. My teacher had started going a bit crazy and on the cranky side. The Robot had followed us (my orchestra peeps) to the highest level of orchestra. What sealed the deal was if I didn’t take orchestra, I could have a half day all year long.

Half days were the best! I only had four classes and seminary, then I was done for the day.

Mom often took my out to lunch. It was seriously a blast.

Yet…Senior Year was the year our English Teachers had us apply to colleges.

I had planned on going to ASU. Dad really wanted me to go, and if I did I could live at home.

Then I looked at tuition and changed my mind.

So where should I attend college?

I had decided I wanted to go into Physical Therapy my junior year, so it was when I found BYU-Idaho had a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) Program, I finally made my decision. At the time, making the choice was fine. It wasn’t real in my head just yet…

College applications were done in the first semester. I didn’t think about them until I got letters at the end of senior year.

So here’s what happens in between:

Remember how I told you about the surprise I had about The Robot Senior Year?

I had the unfortunate experience our having Anatomy and Physiology together.

And other Junior Jerk Wad (JJW) who fueled her hateful fire.

What I write next wasn’t directed toward me, but it’s an experience which will resonate with me for the rest of my life.

And empower my life long mantra too: “Always be kind and never treat others as most have treated me.”

This year I saw the true colors of The Robot.

My teacher stepped out of the classroom for who remembers why, and JJW and The Robot took this as the opportunity to spew their poison.

Those two imbeciles talked about how there wasn’t an option for an Honors Anatomy class. Then expanded on how this class was too easy for them, and anyone not in Honors were idiots and wouldn’t, in fact, get anywhere in life. That they should just give up now—for they would be the ones living on the streets or flipping burgers.

My teacher walked in at this last part and laid it on them.

Man, it felt awesome to watch them endure the rage of my teacher.

The whole class had been physically cringing at their conversation.

And for the rest of that semester, JJW and The Robot were pariahs to the rest of the class. Why shouldn’t they be? With the tone of voice they were using, and the base words, they were basically telling everyone who wasn’t in Honors to kill themselves because their life wouldn’t have any substance in the future. (One of them said something along the lines about how they would kill themselves had they not been as smart as they were).

I think The Robot saw me smiling at her while the teacher yelled. We were put together in a group once, and I remember saying something about what her and JJW had said, basically reinforcing what my teacher said. Needless to say, The Robot was never disrespectful to me again.

The rest of Senior Year went relatively well. I was in a sort of a daze, refusing to believe my adolescent life was about to end. That soon, I would have to be an adult all on my own and move two states away.

I was decently social. I only hung out with Layla and our friend group about once a month, and did what I wanted at home—which was mostly writing and hanging out with family.

Then Prom came.

Despite how I had done my best to talk to more people at school and put myself out there, even asking my long time crush to Morp—a girl ask guy dance—no one cared to help me get a date for Prom.

Worst thing is?

There were two.

If you haven’t guessed, I am LDS (aka Mormon). There was the school Prom and a Mormon Prom.

All the girls talked with each other about getting dates for one another. When I was around, I mentioned I how I wanted to go. I don’t remember the name of the kid I wanted to go with, but…apparently I went unheard. (I am also, to this day, of mind where the man should traditionally ask the girl out, unless it’s explicitly a girl ask guy dance; and I was not going to appear desperate enough for a date to ask a guy).

All of my “friends” went to both Proms.



Without even thinking about trying to help me get a date.

The Sunday after school Prom, all my friends wore their gorgeous, princess dresses to church. Dresses I always wanted to wear and have, but would never get the chance because no one saw me.

I was invisible despite my efforts to be visible that year.

Mom took me home because I couldn’t stop crying. I hated how weak I was. Hated how much I was affected by this.

I told myself I wouldn’t be. The night of both dances I told myself I was happy I didn’t get asked; that I rather be home alone and doing my own thing—which was writing and balling my eyes out.

I am really awesome at lying to myself.

Until now, I never felt anger toward my friends for leaving me out of things. For deciding because sometimes I chose to hang out with my cousins instead, it meant I never wanted to hang out with them so they stopped inviting and paying attention to me.

I never realize how much it hurt until I saw them laughing, in their dream dresses reminiscing about an experience I would never have.

My entire body shook from the pain of being unseen and unloved.

My breaths racked through my ribs, my lungs fighting for oxygen. My head pounded and my mind screamed at me how worthless and ugly I was. Because why else did I not get asked out?

When I got asked to the Homecoming dance that year, I thought someone was playing a joke on me. Thankfully, he wasn’t.

But shouldn’t that tell somebody something?

I went home and slept.

I had finally figured out why I loved to write.

I could control every aspect of the world I created, and since I infused myself into the main character, I could be myself. I could be social, seen, and loved by those outside my family.

The first version of the first book I ever wrote is an intense demonstration of how alone I felt at school. It’s printed and stored away in my memory box in congratulations of completing my first book ever, but thinking back on it…now I’m not sure I want to keep it.

The rest of Senior Year, I put on a face. I smiled and laughed with my friends, pretending I was happy and wasn’t hurting.

I had gone numb.

I don’t think I seriously considered suicide that year, but it certainly crossed my mind, especially after the Prom incident. The fact I thought about killing myself over something so stupid as to being left out of Prom made me so mad I shoved the thoughts deep down into the recesses of my mind and promised myself I would become visible in my college years and never have to suffer the pain of high school. I would make a life for myself where no one would forget me.

In a moment of weakness, I wrote Layla a letter begging her not to forget me.

I fear people forgetting me. So long had I been invisible, I didn’t want my one friend who stayed true to me since kindergarten to forget my existence completely.

I went to one graduation party. It was a pool party. It was fun, I guess, but…*shrug* at this point it was clear to me they didn’t care whether I was there or not. I’m sure it was just the prompting of their parents to not make me a complete exile.

So long I had been screaming for people to see me, but because I never explicitly told anyone they never knew. How could they know?

But didn’t they see me? Didn’t they see the agony in my eyes? The false stretch of my smile?

No, because I was—am—really good at pretending I’m okay when I’m not, and no one tried to see beyond the fa├žade.

At graduation itself I was ecstatic. When I was called and sat back down, freedom washed over me. I would never have to interact with anyone from high school ever again. Although I was sad I was losing Layla, she had more fun with her other friends than she ever had with me. I no longer had to feel left out, because I was the one leaving everyone behind.

I was the one leaving.

I was the one in control.

I was the one shutting them out from my life forever.

And it felt powerful to finally feel like I was in control of something.

The minute everyone threw their caps into the air was the moment I made my escape. I basically ran in my sexy, strappy heels and in my red shiny dress (I looked GOOD) from the premises. In my attempt to locate my family I walked around in circles. I smiled and said congratulations to others but quickly left to find my family. I gave Amanda a hug, because even though we grew apart after my sophomore year, at least she continued to see me.

When I finally found my family, it was like I finally entered a safe haven, and freedom became a reality.

Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

“I’m not hungry. I’m too fat. I’m too fat.”

High school is really where all the insecurities become wildfires, crackling and shattering every teenager’s insides.

Everyone in my friend group decided they weren’t skinny enough, and started going on some pretty serious diets. Lunch turned into a competition on how little they could eat and a conversation about how much they would exercises and what they chose to no longer eat.

Now, this is coming from a bunch of girls who were not only skinny, but fit too. The person who really affected me the most though, was Layla. She lost all her baby fat and was one of the most gorgeous girls on campus. Boys loved her, and yet…she didn’t think she was good enough. How could I possibly think I was good enough if I was nothing compared to her? I don’t blame Layla and didn’t blame her then. I made my own decisions, but these thoughts are what led me to my actions.

Long before this diet fad happened, an unbidden thought would always claw at the threads of my mind whenever I was with these girls.

“I’m the fattest one here.”

This thought came every day, and it only got worse when my beautiful skinny friends decided they weren’t skinny enough. Mind you, these are the girls who always get the guys. Who went on a million dates and got sweet kisses from handsome boys.

I’m twenty one and still haven’t been kissed.

So around this time my friends, decided they were ugly and fat was the same time my only male friend thus far ignored my very presence. And the year I wasn’t asked to any school dances.

My messed up, anxiety-ridden, hormone flaring teenage brain concluded I was doing something wrong. Despite the fact I had sworn off sweets for an entire year and had been successful so far, and that I had been running and increasing distance every day, I wasn’t losing any weight.

So I stopped eating.

Dad took me to school in the early mornings. Mom was asleep, and I usually ate breakfast when Dad was back in his room. Skipping breakfast was easy.

I had a small sandwich at school because I didn’t want my friends to be aware of my inner turmoil, but as I reflect on this terrible decision, the better thing to do would have been to eat dinner.

I continued to run… Since I ate heartily my whole life, I never knew what hunger pains felt like. I also didn’t know how they felt on top of expending a bunch of energy either. I cried every time I ran because of my aching stomach. Yet, I had a mantra to keep me moving, to keep my legs pumping even though I had no energy but my own muscle mass to expend.

My mantra?

“I’m not hungry. I’m too fat. I’m too fat.”

24/7 this mantra filled my thoughts.

And guess what.

I didn’t lose any weight.

Turns out some people bloat when they don’t intake enough nutrients. My body retained water as much as it could because I didn’t limit myself on how much water I drank. With bloating and water weight, I didn’t lose anything. Not even inches.

Clearly, I was never meant to be beautiful.

This was the first time thoughts of suicide entered my mind.

When I thought of disappearing before, it was thoughts of running away and starting a life where no one knew me…I didn’t want to die.

Even when these thoughts came I didn’t want to die. Yet, I couldn’t imagine God would want me to live in such pain every day. The pain of being invisible. The pain of not being good enough. The pain of not being smart enough.

Again, I didn’t want to die and I managed to send these thoughts away. Mainly because the thoughts scared me. I’ve always been told suicide is the ultimate form of selfishness…and I believe it still…but what really turned me away from it—at this point anyways—were my dreams for the future. Surely, life wouldn’t be as awful as it is in high school.

My parents around this time bought me this stupid expensive watch that would track your exercise with GPS and what not (this is way before fitbits and the Apple Watch).

I used it once.

And hated it.

Mom stopped me one day and asked me why I wasn’t using my watch. I broke down and told her how the watch just proved how fat I was. How I wasn’t exercising well enough or eating healthy enough. It was the very evidence I would never look the way I wanted to.

My poor mother started crying whilst explaining how beautiful I was. How much I was worth.

I didn’t believe her. In fact, to this day I still don’t believe the compliments my family gives me (I’m working on this, and I’ve improved tons. I can now entertain the idea that maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to what they say—I know they think what they say is true, but as to whether I believe it’s actually is true is what I’m learning to accept).

Family has to tell you things you want to hear. A true family member won’t degrade you by telling you you’re fat or stupid. So these comments, these compliments and heartfelt truths coming from my family held no merit in my head.

Because no one outside my family saw the things they did. My only male friend left me, and I lost significant chunk in my ability to be noticed by my intelligence, and no guy wanted to ask me to a school dance.

Mom began to notice I wasn’t eating dinner, how when I “did” I only ate a bite or two.

I am so grateful for my mother, but I did hate her when she called me out on it. How she kept telling me I was beautiful and didn’t need to starve myself to get people to notice me. I told her she didn’t understand because she was such a babe and got all the boys when she was my age.

Yet, it broke my heart when she started crying. When she told me I broke her trust.

Man that hurt more than my hunger pains.

It hurt, but I still wasn’t convinced to stop.

Only when she told me how if I continued I wouldn’t be able to have children did she break through my tornado thoughts. So I did some research. Male or female, when suffering from anorexia nervosa and allow it to get out of hand will become infertile. When we stop providing our bodies with nutrients, our body starts to each away at our fat stores, then our muscles, and eventually our organs until we eventually die. If we don’t feed our body, our body starts eating itself.

Mom made me chart the food I ate. I had to sign it off and turn it into her every night.

I hated it.

She also started inviting family members over for dinner every night so unless I wanted my whole extended family to know I was anorexic, I had to eat.

Man, mothers know way too well how their kids work.

Although I started eating again, I still wasn’t okay with my body. I’m not sure I ever will be, but I am happy with who I am. And if people can’t see past my body, then they are missing out on the amazing, beautiful person on the inside.

Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Lost Friend

Each summer, starting before my Freshman year, I participated in a week camp called Especially For Youth (EFY). This was where a lot of LDS youth and youth interested in the LDS religion got together and went to classes and got tours of various religious sights over the summer. This was honestly my favorite time of the year. I was away from everyone at school and no one knew me, or my brand as the “Quiet One.”

Had my school friends been there, they wouldn’t have recognized me. I talked and talked and talked. I got to know so many kids and made so many friends over those four weeks those four summers.

The EFY after my sophomore year, was one of the best I attended. It prepared me for Junior Year.

I label Junior Year as the “Year I Stopped Caring.”

I still stressed about grades and school, but I stopped caring what others thought about me, well at least for the first semester. I should change the label to “The Semester I Stopped Caring,” but the first one is stuck in my head, so let’s just ignore the inaccuracy.

Hehe. I think back on this and laugh at myself. I started going to school looking like a scrub. I didn’t even try. No make-up and basketball shorts and ponytails for days. It was a wonderful feeling, a freeing feeling in the social aspect. I actually stopped for the most part hanging out with friends outside of school. I simply wasn’t interested anymore, and they had stopped inviting me. Again, I didn’t care. I went home early almost every day because I could. My classes were stupid easy, and… I didn’t need or want to be at school.

The administration finally sent a letter to my parents telling me I couldn’t miss anymore school. Mom and I thought it was hilarious, because I still had A’s straight across. It wasn’t like I was failing anything, so why bother telling me I need to come?

It was only when they said I couldn’t officially move on to Senior Year if I kept missing school I finally stopped asking Mom to come and get me.

So, the reason I could go home so often, was because I had dropped out of my Honors Physics class. At the time, I felt like the ultimate failure, but now I realize it was one of the smartest decisions I made.

Remember my anxiety and how the only time I was seen was because people saw me as smart?

Well…this backfired on me in Honors Physics.

My teacher was incredible. If I could remember his name (it was a strange one), I would probably send him a letter telling him how awesome he is. He and my Honors Biology teacher from Freshman year helped me learn how to cope with what I thought was merely test anxiety—not a whole pit of other neurological issues. They taught me how to breathe deeply and not to think about failure, but rather envision how I will succeed. They were kind and understanding. I wish I could have let them know more about how they helped me.

All right, back to the story.

Until this point, I excelled in every subject I tried. I am not being pompous, I’m stating a fact. I was good at school because I spent forever and a day studying and honing my skills.

Yet, not matter how much I worked at Physics; how I utilized my aunt and my uncle as tutors, or spent my lunch hours in the Physics classroom, I could not comprehend the majority of it. Sure, if fascinated me, but man…this was the hardest class I had ever taken.

It took me HOURS to finish ONE Physics problem at home. There was a kid in the class who I would sometimes call and ask for help. He actually called me once and being ashamed at not living up to the title of “Smart One,” I faked through the question we worked on together.

I was afraid if he didn’t think I was smart, he would stop hanging out with me. He was new to the school, and I had invited him to sit with me and my friends at lunch. I mean, what teenage boy will refuse to sit with a whole bunch of cute girls during lunch? Plus, he didn’t know anything about me. Perfect situation right?

He was my friend until right before I dropped the class. He found friends he got along with better, and I was happy for him. Honestly. Although, I didn’t appreciate how I became invisible to him the minute I dropped class. Suddenly…I was no longer worth paying attention to. And yes, I made the effort to see him and talk to him, but no…he became friends with the pompous jerk who believed himself better and smarter than everyone else. Unfortunately, this turned my short time, only male friend I ever had (up until my 8th semester in college) into a jerk too. Still, he’s a brilliant kid and has gone on to better places and he does have a good heart.

It just sucks that he broke mine. I wasn’t interested in dating him, sure he was way cute, but I honestly just wanted a male friend. Had he stayed my friend, maybe something would have happened, but I doubted it. There was a dance coming up, and despite my being his only friend at this point and my directly asking if he was going, he said no. His excuse? He had too much homework to worry about. This shouldn’t have surprised me, because as I said in my previous posts, males hardly pay attention to me. I thought because I was his first friend in the school, the first one who was kind and talked to him, he would see me differently…but the pompous jerk changed his mind. Want to know how?

Physics class.

I was in a group project with pompous jerk (we’ll call him PJ). I don’t know how he knew, but he knew I was struggling in this class. Since people expected me to be the smart one, I acted like nothing was wrong, but PJ somehow knew. And oh, how he loves to prey on those dumber than him—I watched him do so since I first met him.

He was a male, Asian reincarnation of the white, ginger female Robot.

During this project we had to set up a ramp. We were to predict the trajectory of a marble launched from the ramp and where it would land. I wasn’t even DOING a physics problem when PJ decided it was time to belittle me.

My grandmother and Aunt Lynn are amazing quilt makers. I have helped them set up frame after frame since I was old enough understand how quilt clamps work. These clamps kept the corners of the wooden frame together, and we would twist the clamp so tight, it was near impossible for the frame to move.

In order to set up our marble ramp, we had to use a quilt clamp to secure part of the track. PJ, being the lovely person he was, handed me the clamp and told me to secure it whilst giving everyone else part of the actual physics problem to do.

Of course, he had to watch me instead of focusing on his contribution. As I was lining the clamp up, making sure it wouldn’t interfere with the marble’s course, PJ glared down his bulbous nose at me and said, “You’re doing it wrong.” and proceeded to tell me how to use the quilt clamp.

I was crouched at the side of the table, clamp still in hand. Sure I had taken some extra time to secure it, because our teacher was adamant about how precise we needed to be. As PJ spoke in such a condescending tone, our whole group stopped and stared at him.

My heart was racing, and I’m sure my face was as red as Arizona is hot, but I told him to stop treating me like I was stupid and I knew how to secure a quilt clamp.

(Wow, thinking back on these things, I was actually pretty brave when I needed to be. Go past Natalie!)

PJ rolled his eyes and we all went back to work. I was simmering with irritation, and PJ continued to treat me like an idiot.

Want to know what the best thing was? My prediction was right and his was way off. And yet, we nearly failed this group project because CLEARLY PJ was smarter than me and his answer was guaranteed to be correct.

I’ve come to despise people like PJ. They think they have to belittle others to lift themselves up. People like PJ will never find happiness, because happiness only comes when you lift others up, NOT yourself.

After this escapade, a girl in my group stopped me before Physics class the next day. She thanked me for standing up to PJ. She had been wanting to for a long time, but wasn’t brave enough.

No one, it seems, was brave enough to knock PJ off his high horse. Here’s the kid who took away the only true male friend I ever had thus far and turned him into a PJ 2.0

I dropped Physics because of the amount of stress it was causing me. I was miserable. I cried myself to sleep every night (yeah, dumb, but remember, people only noticed me because I was smart). I was beyond terrified to drop this class. Seriously, I began shaking at the mere thought.

If I dropped, people would know I was stupid. Know I wasn’t good enough. I would lose the only thing people saw of value in me—my intelligence.

In the end, my body made the decision for me. Now, this next part may be a little TMI, but if you want to understand the extent of my anxiety (which at the time I didn’t realize was what I had, I thought I was just an excessive worry wart), then keep reading.

I started finding blood in my stool. Excessive blood. Even when I didn’t use the restroom for lovely number two, blood was still in my pants. And no, it wasn’t because I was on my period. My stomach was constantly aching, but due to my high pain tolerance, I didn’t tell my parents until several weeks after I found the blood spots and the amount had increased significantly. (Mom was not happy about this, and lectured me about how I need to be more aware of my health, and sometimes sucking it up isn’t the best option—no matter if I have a high pain tolerance). I went to the hospital, and at age 16 I had to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.

I had stressed so much, I caused the inner lining of my stomach to thin—which was the cause of the bleeding. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, from which I will deal with for the rest of my life…

All due to Honors Physics and my anxiety.

This goes to show how detrimental stress is on the body.

Despite my fears, I knew it was the right thing to drop this class. My doctor said if I continued to have such stress, I would soon suffer from chronic ulcers in my stomach. This terrified me.

With two fears to balance, I almost chose to stay in Physics, but thankfully had the foresight to look ahead. Would staying in Honors Physics and having stomach ulcers be worth it?

Ultimately, I decided no.

So I dropped.

I went in class for the mid-term and did everything I could to avoid my Physics teacher’s eyes. Man, I was ashamed. I sat hunched in my desk and finished my test as quickly as was possible for my addled brain. With my head ducked, I turned in my exam and nearly ran from the classroom. My teacher made note to say goodbye—I don’t know if at this point he knew I dropped, but I knew. I simply shrugged and left.

The minute I hit the hall, tears threatened to fall. Only, my friend came out. He gave me a hug and wished me a fun Winter break. I wished him one as well. By now he had stopped sitting with me at lunch and sat with PJ and his fellow jerks, so I was surprised he even took the time to seek me out.

He texted me once the next semester asking why I missed class, when I told him I dropped, I didn’t hear anything from him afterward. He also stopped acknowledging me at school when his friends were around. He would give a small smile if he were alone, but no longer did we exchange words.

I had been praying for a guy friend. It was fun while he was there, but again, he reminded me I wasn’t worth his time in the end. I became invisible once more. My value had been decreased because I dropped my Honors class. My stigma of being smart for the rest of Junior year was dampened, and I did my best to not let it get to me.

But having my thin access to attention and my only guy friend I’ve ever had leave me at the same time really crushed my self-esteem.

Again thoughts of whether school or life was worth it came to surface…and I stopped eating.

Always and Forever,

Natalie Carroll

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Throughout my freshman and sophomore year of high school, my anxiety continued to climb. I was involved in honors classes and AP classes. Studying was life. Sophomore year I finally stopped escaping to the library during lunch to study. Mom advised me to stop cutting off social opportunities. Yet, social situations also caused me anxiety. People had labeling me the “Quiet One” therefore, I wasn’t expected to talk. And honestly, most of the time I didn’t want to. Naturally, I am more of a listener. What caused me so much social anxiety was when I did talk I wasn’t listened to, I was discounted, brushed off, or even mocked at times. (My ridiculous blushing face didn’t help either. Think of the brightest red you can imagine, and place that color ALL OVER my face and down my neck. Yeah, my blush got made fun of tons, although Layla would tell me every day boys thought it was cute—which didn’t help in the least, but I commend her for her efforts. I didn’t care if a boy thought it was cute; I wanted to stop blushing so people would stop recognizing when I was embarrassed).

Eventually, I became what people expected of me. Expect my good friend I made in orchestra (we’ll call her Page); I didn’t talk much to anyone.

Page started sitting with me and my friend group at lunch, which saved me from a life of silence. She and I would talk and joke. Our inside jokes became so funny that sometimes my friends would start laughing because Page and I were laughing so hard.

Honestly, Page was a life saver. To this day, she remains one of my beloved friends.

Now, apparently when you’re labeled the “Quiet One” and the “Nice One,” this makes one vulnerable to unrequited hostility. Or should I say people who think because I was so “nice” they could take advantage of me and I wouldn’t care.

Unfortunately, my sophomore year was the year people began to realize they could treat me disrespectfully and I wouldn’t fight back.

Reason being? Most of the time I didn’t care, especially if it was directed toward me; the Freshman Bullies really toughened my skin.

The only time disrespect bothered me was when it was directed toward my friends. There was this Freshman girl in our orchestra class who was in First Violins…we—the sophomores in the class—nicked-named her “The Robot.” I was a Second Violin, because at this point I discovered writing was my passion, so I dedicated more time to writing than to practicing my violin. I wasn’t awful, but I was by no means the best.

The Robot was the best.

And she knew it.

The majority of the class hated her because she was so condescending and cruel. It was the first time I actually knew how it felt to hate someone. And how hard it is to eventually try and forgive them.

We were in sectionals one day—this is where each instrument group in the orchestra goes into a separate practice room—and usually First and Second violins were separated, but not this day. The Robot was put in charge, and the sophomores audibly groaned.

Gosh, she was horrible. I have never felt so stupid, low, or angry in my entire life. And let me tell you, it takes a LOT to make me angry.

The way she spoke to us, as if we were two years old and had no idea how to play our instruments. Her posture was stiff, and her voice was deep, her eyes blazed with grandiose glory. I think what made tipped the burg was how she was younger than all of us. Yes, she was incredibly talented, I will give her that, but she was a terrible human.

I have never been so angry I wanted to hit someone, but she managed to get me that blazing mad. I gently set down my violin, stared her in the eyes, and in the calmest voice I could manage, told her I was going to the bathroom. She told me I couldn’t, so I glared and walked out anyways.

Now, several years after the fact, I am finally confident enough to tell this part of the story.

I went my orchestra teacher and asked to speak with her in her office. I told her about how The Robot was treating us. About how disrespectful she was and how awful she made my friends feel.

The next day, The Robot was demoted in the First Violin section from First Chair to Fourth.

The justice I felt was so pure. And although it made my orchestra friends happy for probably the wrong reason, at least it stopped The Robot from being so awful. The Robot was the only person in my whole high school career to ever make me angry (just wait till I tell you the surprise I got Senior year…)

Mom always thought I was odd for a teenager, because I didn’t react to the petty actions of others and acted far more mature than my age (I don’t think I told her about what happened with The Robot). Mom noticed how I worked so differently than the people around me. Since she pointed this out, I began noticing how my difference caused my friends to stop trying to understand me—I became an enigma to them.

My friends would praise me when I either told them I talked to this cute guy, or they saw me talking to a guy or anyone in general.

“Great job, Natalie. I didn’t know you were brave enough to talk to boys.”

I would frown at them and say something about not being a complete imbecile. This continued so often whenever I talked, I eventually stopped telling the majority of my friend group about various aspects of my life. I even stopped confiding in Layla—my closest friend since elementary at this point—a lot about my life. The other girls and guys in our friend group became more interesting to her anyways.


Do not take this as complaining. I am not. I do not blame anyone for anything (well, maybe except The Robot, because she clearly chose to act the way she did). I understand had I changed my actions, life would have turned out differently. If I was the person I am now, acting back then, life would have been different. However, all of these experiences made me into the amazing person I am today. I was also a completely different person back then, so confrontation or talking about deep personal things was NOT something I did with ANYONE.

Remember, I am simply explaining my origin story of how my anxiety became a roaring monster.

When Page didn’t come to school, I would go to the choir room with Layla and our friend group during lunch. I did my best to get to know the others, but they were already in their clique. Again, I was only “allowed” to tag along because I was a part of the originals.

I began to really hate lunch hour. It was just that too, an hour long. Some days I thought I would die.

There were days I prayed lunch would go smoothly and quickly. That I would be more confident and able to talk to those around me…to fit in. I knew deep down my friend group were kind people, but looking back…as teenagers I don’t think we really understood many of the aspects going on beneath each of our surfaces. I just wanted someone to pay attention to me, to actually make to effort to get to know me.

Page was that person. And I thank the heavens every day for how she saved me. At least in my orchestra class, I wasn’t invisible.

Everywhere else, I was.

This was the first time in my life I started to think no one would care if I disappeared. I believe the two things that kept these thoughts from becoming too serious, were Page with her unconditional kindness at school and my family. When the darkness became too cavernous, I thought of my family and the thoughts would fade.

The only class I truly enjoyed at school was orchestra, because at least people talked to me, and wanted to know more about me.

Since Page and Layla were the only ones who would give me the time of day and I’ve encountered so many people like The Robot, I began to believe I was unlovable. A thought I still struggle with today.

Always and Forever,
Natalie Carroll

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