“What is my story?”
The dumbest question I’ve ever heard and yet it’s asked more times then I can count. I use to think my story was my broken childhood. I thought that’s what made me stand out. Truth is, we all go through our fair share of crap, and my shit smells no different then anyone else’s.
Since I was a kid, media has taught me that to be popular is to be successful, and if that was the case I was a failure. I tried so hard to be liked by everyone. I then develop this amazing skill. I was able to change my personality based on who I was talking to, making it nearly impossible to be disliked. Not being accepted was my biggest fear, but little did I know I was the one not accepting myself, altering my personality like an article of clothing until I was left unrecognizable.
As I reached my mid to late teens, I found myself hanging out with an older crowd. Not by much, just three years, but my God when you’re in your youth it might as well be ten. You meet someone and as soon as they say “I’m seventeen.” You shun them. They’re just a kid. “But I turn eighteen in two months.” Means nothing; you’re still a “miner.” At least that’s how it was for me. I struggled with my age. Always being the youngest, never being taken seriously, having my maturity measured by how sexually active I was… or in my case lack of activity. It infuriated me.
On top of that, everyone assumed that because my parents were well off, because I always looked “happy”, because I was the boss’s stepdaughter they figured that I was sheltered. Who are they to assume that? I couldn’t have that. I needed them to know not to judge the cover without reading the pages. So I started to tell them, “my story.” Sure, my mom was unstable, abusive and defensive. Sure she abounded me (twice) once for a dream and once for a drug dealer. Okay! So she forbade me from attending my grandfather’s funeral. Yah, she was a stripper and I wasn’t all that great either. I struggled to make friends, to maintain my grades and stay strong. But that’s not me now. Everything that happened to me than, is exactly that, it’s than. In the past. Now all that’s left is the foundation that I’ve built myself on, the person I am today. And sure, I travelled for seven months, I lived in Australia, fell in love in Cambodia, skydived scuba-dived, been to the middle earth, road on elephants and found myself all while losing everything I thought I knew…but all that is now is a collection of memories. My memories. Individually just a single memory, collectively it becomes a story, not “my story”, just A story. I don’t believe that the things that happen to us in life become our story. I think we are the story. We are all reading our own books every single day, and the thing is, I think everything is already written. Everything happens for a reason.
When I was telling people the story that defined me, the one that I thought was “my story”, all I was telling them was a small chapter. Telling that story was my biggest sign of immaturity. My hunger for popularity left me starving. My view on sex got clouded by what people told me I should and shouldn’t be doing.
Sometimes it frustrates me that I thought like that, and such a short time ago. But I finally realize we all go through the same thing in our own way one time or another. It’s all part of self-discovery, and man, am I still discovering myself one page at a time.
– Gabriela Mattos