An Ode to 14


(Art by Elliana Esquivel, @elesq on Instagram)

Danielle Murray, Media Manager

I went into high school with wide-eyes. Coming from a small, close-knit school, the crowded halls of the monstrous building were unorthodox. The new faces were threatening and the spirit deafening. Looking back, it’s no wonder I came out like this. 

I clung onto my friends like a stairway railing, desperately clinging onto the heartstrings of childhood and the peace of innocence. I only made one new friend that year. The thought of talking to someone new made my heart race, my words jump out of place, and my stomach bind itself into knots. Even then, simple eye contact was a threat to me; if they looked too long maybe they’d see right through my facade of confidence and see how tiny I really was. If they bothered talking to me they’d notice how my eyes refused to meet theirs and how my words tripped over each other, desperately trying to race to some sort of coherent conclusion. Some did see this. They saw the small girl, the quiet girl, the naive, trusting new girl, and used everything she was against her. Turned her into a weapon to preach their sermon. Luckily, even then, I was never anyone’s servant. However, the covenant had already been made. This was the first sign.

I would stare into the mirror in the morning, as I always did to brush my hair, and for the first time in my life, I actually cared. The dark circles under my eyes seemed more like bruising than genetics. My nose seemed much too big; my face much too wide. My clothes were deemed far too unflattering for a fourteen year old to be wearing. Suddenly everything was just so wrong: my eyes too round, my lips too small, my body too flat, my hair too faded, my thighs too big, my wrists too small, my waist undefined. For the first time in my life, I found myself asking why I didn’t look like the girls on my feed or that girl in biology. I brushed off these times as just a lapse of judgment, a moment of weakness. Later, these thoughts would be vindicated by a snide classmate, much too unhappy with herself to be speaking ill of anybody. I didn’t know that then. At the time, I knew she was right. This was the second sign.

I would stare at my report card; my vision tunneling around the only thing that mattered. My entire world crashed down. One letter on a piece of paper suddenly magnified into the size of a certificate, a grant to a future of prosperity, the ticket to an easy life. Admittedly, a part of me I found it ironically fitting; an ‘F’ was only fit for a failure like me. The A’s surrounding it didn’t matter, nor that math was always my weakness, nor did it matter that, like the fool I was, I took the class online. You only need one sin to become forsaken. And a failure forsaken I was. I hated myself for it. Yet the fiery persistence I possessed as a wide-eyed kid had seemingly vanished. Carving out time to finally understand, simply giving myself a helping hand, seemed futile. Like an engine with no fuel to burn, a candle without a flame, a life with no passion, I had no efforts to give. Hopeless with no focus and no effort to give, I accepted my fate and let it decay deep inside my brain. A failure forsaken I was. This was the third sign.

 It’s funny looking back. All the signs didn’t seem like a decline, just the growing pains of an aging brain. Just a new chapter with foreign factors unequipped to deal with change. Little did she know, the signs always start slow, and the pains would only grow. Fourteen was the gasoline that aided the fire and the match supplier. Fourteen was the worst thing that could have happened to fifteen.