Nobody taught me how to be me. Nobody taught me that it's okay to feel everything and nothing at the same time. Nobody taught me that being yourself can be the hardest task in the world. I was taught how to read, how to write, that punctuality and that the grades I will achieve are something I should be setting my full attention to. I was taught that any outburst I had was just a result of hormones, and that even though authority figures felt it justified to undermine me for not being responsible or attentive, I am supposed to know exactly what to do with my life.
We are all taught in classrooms amongst useless algebra and literary techniques a seemingly straightforward sense of right and wrong. From this you can know that it is wrong to hurt someone, to manipulate another person or to use another person for your own gain. But at the end of the day, as you grow out of kids cartoons, no matter how much it has been drilled into your head- like everyone else, you are likely to succumb to the actions you were 'taught' so diligently to oppose. People cheat and people lie. It's just how it is.
We live in a flawed system where a teacher grades in green and red your self worth and presents you with books and more books to get an A, get a job, have children, to live so we can die. It's no wonder people enact such horrors when we are all stuck in a circular.
When you're a little kid playing with plastic pale dolls with those oh so fake smiles obscured with pink lip-gloss, when you sit there blankly watching fairy tales on the screen . You question the world so greatly but are seemingly confident in your idea of right and wrong, good and bad. Because mummy told you so. Because teacher told you so.
These fairy tales deceive- People are far more beautifully complicated than the stories we are shown. Truthfully, the line between good and bad is fuzzy, up to interpretation and isn't something that can be taught by reading a textbook.
The line fuzzes like the people around me. They blur into each other like cars racing on a motorway. Obscured faces I know but not quite, those almost friends brush past my shoulder nudging me with drunken shoulders one way then another muttering meaningless apologies. Shadows loom in the already dark attic room amongst the glare of phone light. Too dark. Too bright. Rap I don't care to know the name of thunders through my ears and moves the floor in waves. The alcohol in my hand cools my palm and burns warmly in my throat.
'I'm aware!' I confidently tell those around me. I'm convinced, even with the substance obscuring my vision that I can take on anything, anyone, and could with no fault complete a maths exam- regardless of the fact I no longer participate in the subject.
I'm not sure why I'm in the attic or how I got here- the lights spin and twist like dancers and the speakers shake so aggressively they blur like rippling water. Posters of Six's favourite celebrities and musical artists shield the walls. Their faces would be friendly, however, in the dark environment they have become menacing and... Trippy.
I sway lightly to the music but feel suddenly confined and self-conscious. The lights, the sound and the people all become too much and I feel suffocated. My throat constricts, I lose my drink and my breath comes out short and rough. I dart hastily to the exit on uneasy footing. The base of my foot hits a nail peeping out of the carpet and I stagger briefly off balance. I don't feel its sharp prick, only acknowledge the red stain developing on my innocent white sock.
I find the ladder and descend into Sixs bedroom. With each step the ladder jerks with my weight. I land the opposite of gracefully on a stranger's discarded red hoodie and twist to familiar faces. They acknowledge my presence with mumbles and outbursts, half hugs and smirks.
Sixs dark hair whips past my face as she jumps to the music. Her eyeliner is smudged but not enough to look anything but smoky. Behind her wing of eyeliner lies two heavily dilated pupils. She sees me and grabs my elbow- bringing me toward everyone to 'dance'. I'm yet again in a clamour of bodies, but this group is far more welcoming.
Someone jumps on my back, pushing me down with little effort and makes a dinosaur sound "raaawwrrrr". I can't see anything aside from the persons purple jumper as she crushes me like a small playful child. I muffle a protest against her chest and groan. Blue, obviously. She's not a threat.
I relax and push her off- she laughs to herself and rolls onto her back. Taradactyl we call her; because of the way she will greet us and run- bent over slightly as if her head is leading her body, with her arms splayed out like 'a dinosaur'. Almost ironically, the jumper has a cartoon styled T. rex printed on the chest in startling red.
"SiN" she shouts above the thumping bass line.
"WHAT?!" I reply as loud as I can manage back.
She shakes my shoulders and her eyes widen momentarily "THIS IS AWESOME!"
"I KNOW DUDE, I KNOW!"
Frankly, that's all that needed to be said.
Six takes my arms once again and tries to force me to dance by pulling each arm singularly. This doesn't induce dancing, if anything it just causes me to stiffen up- she might as well be dancing with a wall. The alcohol is wearing off. I can't dance like this. Too many eyes.
She gives up and launches herself onto a person close to her. She's a fighting drunk: the kind who compulsively wants to 'play' fight with friends and on occasion strangers without provocation. I hear a screeching cry from her victim and a hearty crash as they hit the floorboards. His glass of vodka smashes into fragmented shards. Everyone's temporarily startled, but they forget as soon as it happens and curse as they tread hazardly on broken glass.
I leave Six to it and quietly find a chair in the corner, resolving to being a wallflower. I get up to dance in my own time, when a track I crave taps my shoulder and asks me to, and the new drink seeps into my system.
How drunk am I? I can no longer tell.
A couple in the corner swallow each other with no acknowledgment of those around them- senselessly touching the other under the compulsion of the drink. A leg wrapped around another leg, a hand feeling through tousled hair, a smudge of lipstick on neck, body pressed on body.
But nobody cares, we all move to the sounds, smile and laugh at friends and strangers antics. We laugh at the mistakes we make and the things we will regret so relentlessly when we awake from this reality, because, it is all we can do. Stay numb, stay fun, stay smiling in what we have yet to realise is a temporary state, until the inevitable drop of the base- where we slump in strange places only to wake up wondering how we got there.
This is the life I lead- sixteen going on seventeen. I'm not going to lie- not right now anyway. I want to tell you upfront that I am not a good person. That I am also not a bad person. My heart rests cold whilst my thoughts are warm- I will lie, almost definitely. And I'm not something that can be 'fixed'. I'm me, and I'm okay with that.
I dance, flirt, smile and laugh with my friends. I drink the alcohol I so stubbornly protested against. I inhale the smoke in the room without a care of what it could be. I wear the makeup and dress I detested as a young tomboy. The party echoes fuzzy sounds, fuzzy lights and the fuzzy lives we live.
And you know what? It's okay. All of this is okay.
A vibration comes from the pocket of my jacket- the phone is ringing and In no time a car picks me up, I open my front door with foggy vision and find myself just as fast in bed. The journey feels like a flickering photo-slide and I can barely keep aware of how one moment flows into to the next. I lay awake for a while, but before I know it I've somehow shaken my clothes off and the world goes endearingly dark.
I'm waking up from this reality.