Before you read this: I first wrote something like this in grade 10, grappling with the concept of a person's self perception and the way others perceive them. I've rewritten variations of this in different stages of my life, but I figured it was time to share one of them.
Read it with your own name.
It was the first day of class, my second year of university. I'd made friends, of course, but this year, in this class, there was no one I knew. I sat at a table by myself, waiting for the prof to begin, avoiding everyone's eyes.
Everyone settled down, laptops open. The prof coughed a little to focus the attention on him and... She walked into the room. The most beautiful girl, woman I'd ever seen. I think that my jaw dropped, and the prof certainly paused. She smiled a little impishly, excused herself for being late, and looked around for a seat.
Thinking back, she caught me off guard because she was so confident. Radiant. The atmosphere changed when she entered the room. She didn't walk, she strutted, but without being obnoxious. She didn't look like she'd tried, but she was perfectly put together.
Imagine all of that, taken in as she came in, from my point of view. Me, with the fly away hair, glasses, and clothes that even I knew were always a little off.
She surveyed the room, and spotted the empty seat next to me. She smiled her way over, and sat down. The prof started to talk, and I didn't hear anything. I was certain that all eyes were fixed on her. Mine certainly were.
"Here!" she said, as he called out her name. I hadn't heard it, and I was faintly disappointed. I refocused on the front of the room. "Robert... Cynthia.... Megan... Jeffrey... Estelle..." I didn't say anything. "Estelle...?"
"Oh, here!" I quickly stuttered, embarrassed and looking down.
"Hey, we have the same name! I've never met anyone with my name before."
I looked up at her, dumbfounded. We had the same name? She and I? Impossible. I didn't see how there was anything similar about us.
"Oh, that's cool, I guess..." I briefly met her gaze and turned away. I was surprised to see no pity there, just a twinkle.
I don't know what happened for the rest of the class. I couldn't think about anything except how perfect she was, and how invisible I was. Fly on the wall. I wanted to talk to her, but I felt that no matter what I said it would come off wrong, and she would think I was stupid. Dull was better than annoying and stupid. I said nothing, but kept sneaking a glance at her, quickly averting my eyes.
She was wearing dark jeans, pretty black flats, and a button up shirt. Her hair was long, blond, wavy, and down. Her hands were long and slender, and her nails were unpolished. She wore just enough make up to look perfect. I noticed her legs the most, as the only part of her I could casually see without being obvious. Fit, trim, denim snug on her thighs.
The thought kept rolling through my head: I own all those things. Why can't I look like that? I wasn't fat or even chubby. My body just jutted out in all the wrong angles, and I could never get my hair to stay, my makeup to look right, or my clothes to fit perfectly. Even if I got something right, something else was always wrong.
Everyone started putting away their computers and I realized that class must be over. My screen had long ago gone black. I wondered who had noticed my inattention. Probably no one, if anyone even looked my way, well... I don't think they would have seen me.
"See you next week Estelle! It was nice to meet you!" Her voice was a smile, warm and fresh.
"Yea, uh, you too. Bye."
Fuck I sounded so stupid. I should have said something interesting, she'll never talk to me again, I am such a loser...
I packed up my stuff and left, feeling stupid that I, usually an excellent student, didn't even know what we'd covered in the first day of class. I felt like a moron because I couldn't even get a sentence out properly. Most of all, I'd never stood next to someone who so effortlessly made me aware of all of my own shortcomings. I couldn't even blame her. She was nice, one of those people who was genuine, and genuinely beautiful.
Maybe I should drop this class...
But the thought of not seeing her, Estelle, again... tore at my heart. I was fascinated, captivated. She made me feel so... unworthy, and I wanted so desperately to be able to sit at a table with her and look at her when I talked to her, without shying away. Yea right Estelle, keep dreaming. She's never going to talk to you again. Why would she? I'm sure every male in the room was slavering to have her look their way. I'm plain, boring, and apparently unable to speak. Not worth her time.