A Stranger to Myself

"I feel like I don't even know myself. And if I don't know myself, how can anyone else ever know me?" Autumn has always felt alone, like an outcast. But when a girl comes into her life and reveals things about Autumn she never would have known otherwise, can Autumn learn to accept her differences she's so used to hating?


3. Optimism vs. Pessimsm

I'll never forget the way she looked when she first walked down the street. I remember glancing at her and thinking that she must just be passing by, not even dreaming that someone like her would talk to me. But at a second glance, I noticed her backpack. And the books that she hugged to her chest resembled the ones I had for my classes.


I leaned against the pole of the stop sign, my gaze flitting to her frequently. Normally I was a little aggravated by the fact no other kids on this street took the same bus as I did. They were all going to a private school. But now, as this girl walked towards me, I couldn't have felt more privileged to be alone with her. 


"Hi," She said to me, gaining all of my attention immediately, "I just moved in here with my family. I'm Carmen," She smiled at me and her teeth were so white I thought they might blind me if the light hit them in the right way.


I felt a familiar feeling creeping up on me. The need to gain her approval, no matter what the cost. The problem was that I didn't know her enough yet. I didn't know what I would have to do to get her approval. In situations like this I was the most insecure. Because I couldn't resort to my usual behaviors. I had to try to just be "myself", whoever that was.


"I'm Autumn..." I was truly at a loss for words for more than one reason. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my entire life, which was enough to make anyone nervous, and I also knew nothing about her.


"Pretty name. I'm guessing we go to the same school then?" She asked me. She sounded so casual. Naturally casual. I envied that. I envied her.


"Yeah. Willamette?" I wasn't sure why I asked that. I was simply desperate for conversation.


"Yup. So can I bet on seeing you around?" She asked, sounding so happy and calm, even though it was her first day. Self-confidence radiated off of her in waves. I wasn't sure how to respond, surprised that she might want to spend time with me, "I mean, as long as I'm cool enough for you to hang out with."


"No no, of course I'll hang out with you, hopefully we have some classes together."


She smiled again. And before the silence that was created could become awkward, the bus was making its way down the road. We got on it and I sat down, slightly surprised when Carmen joined me at my side. I felt... different when she was around. Lighter, almost. Like there was less pressure on me than usual.


But I wasn't an optimist. I knew that once we got to school, the others would be immediately drawn in by her looks, she would be recruited into a group of popular girls and chased after by all the jocks. And in a few weeks time she would be sneering at me in the halls, calling me names, and avoiding me like I was contagious.


I found out that I was wrong about all of those things.


Something was going to go right in my life for once.


And it took me a very long time for my pessimism to accept that as reality.


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