An Open Letter to the Girl I Hate

It’s not you, it’s me. See, I grew up in a toxic environment and I’m still struggling to recover.

I wore baggy clothes in the house, and learned to slouch because I was embarrassed of the transition from girl to woman. I hunched to become invisible for the sake of others, and because wearing anything form-fitting was scowled upon, as was showing skin. I suppose it became a habit because several years later when I leave the house I can never manage to stand proud and tall. I became ashamed of my body, and afraid to show it off even though a part of me wanted to, but look at you. You wear bikinis without a care, everyone stares, and instead of shying away you embrace the attention.

When I was fifteen I bought my first lipstick but recall it being yanked out of my hands and thrown out. I remember not being allowed to wear lotion. Yes, lotion. It was just one of the ridiculous rules in the house but your parents encouraged all the things mine frowned upon.  

Then there’s the micro-movements I had to worry about. I was taught to look away if a man stares at you, to never look him in the eye, and to always be shy. But this shyness became shame and that’s not the same. My 6th grade teacher scolded me for not looking directly into her eyes when speaking to her. I was thoroughly confused why everything I learned at home was different from the lessons I learned at school. By the time college interviews rolled around I still had a habit of looking away so it’s no surprise I didn’t get as many job offers as you. To this day, if someone looks at me for too long I either get uncomfortable or defensive. I’m jealous of the fact you don’t think twice about these things or get offended.

As if all that wasn’t enough I can’t smile and laugh the way you do. Trust me, I want to but as a child I was told not to. It would mean I was shaming my family because in my culture smiling and laughing too much implied you were sleeping around. When you laugh you’re considered charismatic, but when I laugh I’m branded flirtatious. That’s just the way I see it and I’m hoping to change that.  So now at work I’m the one who’s mastered the resting bitch face, and you’re the one everyone comes to for help. I don’t blame anyone but myself.

You’re so loud sometimes and that triggers underlying fears of mine. It’s not your fault but I get mad because it reminds me of the horrors of my past. Loud noises were never a good thing; not at school, not at home. It shakes my core.

Who wouldn’t choose you over me? You’re capable of making so many friends, so I’ve become accustomed to loneliness. Getting picked last was fine, but I didn’t know my attitude would set me this far back my entire life.

The thing about our environments is that it heavily influences who we are but I want to unlearn all the things that have been holding me back all along. I don’t want to be who my family and friends want me to be. I want to be a new me. I grew into a bitter person based on my past but God forbid this lasts.

I just wanted to tell you didn’t deserve any of my anger because it was misplaced. I really don’t hate you like you think I do. I hate myself, but that’s not an excuse. I hate myself and that’s on me, not on you.

Jasmine Mann12 Comments