A character sketch
She runs her hands through her hair and looks out at the rain, presses her face to the glass and holds it there, her breath misty on the windowpane. Her mascara is smeared, her eyes red, tears marring her face.
She takes a deep breath, lets out another one. She feels frustrated, angry, but there is no target, only herself. So she looks into herself and sees her incapability and all that she is not. This haunts her so she rocks forward and curls up into a little ball, clutching her knees to herself, feeling a kind of terrible ache that causes her chest to seize up. She wants to speak but she doesn’t have the words; she can only look out into the dusk and watch as the rain streaks across her window.
She sees the flashing lights, the brightly-lit signs and looks at them as though she hopes they could invigorate her, help her, somehow allow her insight into a world that is denied her. She feels like she is alone. All that moves her, all that is important to her; all this is for her alone and she knows no one who shares this with her. And she is tired, so tired of being lonely.
She runs a finger across one of the thin white window slats, teasing it open, then letting it be. What’s the use? There’s only the rain outside in the murky night, frustrating her in its cold response. She watches it and it does not answer; she flies, she dances inside her mind.
What if she were someone, anyone else? She flits through possibilities, an accomplished actress or an artist, a girl born into a different time, a dancer in a forgotten world. This entertains her and appeases her, when she descends into her illusions she can forget for a little while, forget the constant appetite and craving that drives her, her desire for attention, the appreciation of others, their admiration and respect. All this she can leave be when she pretends she is another and so she resorts to it often as though pretending gives her entrance to the self.
But she knows it is not true selfhood and it frustrates her that she cannot find those who are similar to her. She runs her fingers through her hair again, but roughly as though she is trying to punish herself, to tear out her hair, to hurt. She is too smart to ever truly hurt herself; she would never cut her body or scar herself in any way but she enjoys a kind of psychological torture where she allows the frightening voices in her head to surface and tell her that she is too weak, too arrogant, too harsh, too judgmental, too sure of herself, not sure of herself at all. She allows the voices to speak to her because it is her way of reigning herself in, of making sure that she doesn’t think more of herself than she deserves.
Because she knows her flaws and though she is flippant and casual and lighthearted about them, though she might try to brush them off and hide them by being very obvious about them, almost putting them out there for others to negate, she knows that they are true. She sees herself and every day she looks at the face in the mirror and thinks about the ugliness it conceals and the insecurity and neediness that hide behind it. All this disgusts her and she is disgusted with herself but there is no way to leave it be; she knows herself for who she is and so she must suffer.
She has a penchant to think too highly of herself, to allow herself flight of fancy where she is a tragical romantic heroine, where she is a damsel in distress, where she rescues those she loves or hides from those who she imagines hate her. But all this is simply her way of giving her life importance; she pretends that she matters by claiming that she is a character out of one of her books, but she is not. She is very small on the grand spectrum of people in the world, and when she dares to look it frightens her. So she tries not to look. She tries to blow herself up and allow herself her joys and passions, allow herself the ability to delight in a life that she knows is no more than ordinary.
This above all things she hates: to be ordinary. To be mediocre or average, to lead a life that anyone could lead, to be the kind of person who will not be remembered. She feels that she has been born for a purpose and tries to find out what that may be, her every doubt and worry she stifles by claiming it is only placed there to dissuade her, to test her. She clings to a God who she does not really know for she has created Him in her own image, and realizing this she understands that it is flawed and her own knowledge worthless.
She knows the art of pretense and uses it to mislead others; they often think well of her without knowing the truth. But she knows. She sees it when she looks in the mirror, sees the girl behind the mask, the girl who does not dare to admit that she might not be all that she wishes to be, that she doesn’t have what she pretends to possess. She looks in the mirror and judges herself and finds herself lacking and it is then, in the darkest hours of the night, that she is silent and quiet, trying to stave off the voices that attack her.
But she is malicious, too, masochistic, because she feels like she deserves what the voices do. She deserves to be torn down and to be hurt; she deserves all this because she has not suffered the way that others have. So she allows it and almost takes pleasure in it, a pleasure in this self-inflicted pain. She knows this is another stupidity that she indulges; she knows that it is wrong. But if others will not do it for her then she must do it to herself, because she is the only one who knows that she is not good the way she seems; she is not good, she is instead, bad.
How bad? Oh, not bad in any terrible sense; she hasn’t killed anyone or hurt anyone; she is only bad in that she will not admit what she is to herself and to others. She doesn’t want to settle for being mediocre. She wants to be important, she wants to be recognized, she hungers for the respect of the people that she herself respects. At the same time she despises herself for being so dependant, and there is a great war between her desire to be seen and her desire to hide herself away.
She is afraid that nobody would like her if she didn’t show off all the time. She tries in every which way to prove to others that she is smart, clever, interesting, but at the same time she worries that she is not, and more importantly, that everyone else is far more interesting than she will ever be. She pulls stunts simply so that she can talk about them later; she uses her experiences as conversation-starters; it is her way of ensuring that people see her and don’t simply pass her by. Because she is afraid of being ignored and of not being seen.
All this surfaces in the night. In the day there is nothing but joy, a kind of joy that overrides and rules her and allows her to dance lightly through her life. But in the night she thinks and when she thinks she is dissatisfied, with herself and her actions and all that she is. She abhors this masquerade; she wants so much to be like people whom she can’t be like, to crave the things they crave. She knows that she is flawed and this bothers her, but what is worse is that she cannot fix the flaws.
So skewed is she that she struggles to be in control, especially in her relationship to God. She does not want to think about an unfair God, so in an effort to make him fair she herself will deliberately sin. If she sins, after all, she deserves to be punished and can therefore accept her punishment with equanimity. She goes to sleep at night, rested, because she knows that there can be no wrong when she herself has ensured that she ought to be reprimanded. Thus she can avoid the question that could potentially frustrate her at the same time that she acknowledges in others. She has the odd ability to be able to see out of others eyes but not to allow it for , but th, ; she cannot work with the notion of a God who is not fair and hence she makes him fair.
She understands this is an act of arrogance, that it makes no sense to sin simply to be in control, but even though she logically understands it, it emotionally helps. She looks at herself and laughs, almost bitter, but then refrains. Oh, she can mock herself in the night, mock the way in which she takes everything so seriously and sees everything for the way in which it must be. At night she is angry with herself and she takes out her anger in her thoughts, because she knows more than anyone else could know that she deserves nothing that has been given her.
If she saw herself from the outside, she would dislike herself. It is her understanding of herself that bothers her because she knows the good and the bad, she sees what is right and what is wrong. She sees that she has some ability to be smart but feels like she needs to perform, almost, because otherwise people will dismiss her or find her boring. At the same time, she is lonely because she hasn’t met many others like herself, people who question and wonder and at the same time are flawed. No, she hasn’t met them, and she would like to.
So she looks out her window into the rain and into the night and a smile curves on her lips but it is not a happy smile, it is an angry smile, because she knows that despite the way she feels she will go on pretending, go on trying to impress, because she has a strange desire to be recognized for who she is, mostly because she fears that if she is not it means that she does not exist. And could there be anything worse than not existing?
She runs her fingers through her hair and bites her lip and touches the glass, cool against her finger, and that is when she closes her eyes and simply feels and what she feels is a kind of disgust for what she is and what she’s done. It isn’t hatred; perhaps it is a more muted feeling of that kind. She’s disgusted by the way that she craves the good opinion of others and more disgusted by the fact that she doesn’t think she’s important unless others see her as such.
She wants to get past all this but she doesn’t know how, and she knows that the others cannot give her the advice she desires. They will either critique her or be kind to her but she doesn’t deserve either of those reactions; all she wants is to know that someone out there sees her and knows what it is like and understands. And if that person is warm and does not judge her, that would be best, because she is already unhappy with the way that she behaves even though she does not change it.
All she wants is for people to respect her. And at the same time, all she wants is to be self-sufficient and not to care whether anyone ever notices her.
She’s conflicted, she’s torn, and it’s only in the night that it all dances through her head and exhausted she leans her head into the window and looks out and feels as though there must be a God who could see her and know that it is not fair even though she’s doing her best to make it fair. And she sees herself as posturing, too, as assuming this tragical mindset which isn’t really hers, and all this as an escape from the ordinary, because she wants to be anything, anything but ordinary.