Search

COUNTING UP, COUNTING DOWN by Amal Hassan



You’re 17 years old and you’re the worst mess you’ve ever seen. Of course, that’s only what you think. True self reflection is difficult— nigh impossible. There will always be biases present.


(Bias. 4 letters. Defined as “Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.” Source: Oxford Languages.


You’re 15 years old and explaining to your best friend that she’s not nearly as terrible as she thinks, not even close. She’s the most wonderful person you’ve ever met— but she can’t see that, can she? She’s programmed to always think the worst of herself.


She’s biased, and you can’t stand it.)


You’re 17 years old and oh so guilty, it laces your every thought, every move. Your internal voice is a mantra of “I’m sorry” repeated over and over, it no longer feels like a real word. You try to smile and laugh and bolster yourself, to make yourself seem like a real person who isn’t drowning, choking on shame. It doesn’t work.


(Af qarrar. 2 words, 8 letters. Translated from Somali, meaning “Bitter mouth.” Source: Your mother.


You’re 17 years old and still can’t speak your own language, not without looking to your mother for every other word. Your shame is so strong you can taste it.


It’s bitter on the tongue.)


You’re 17 years old, but you feel much younger. You want to be much younger. There are too many responsibilities, but you’ve never been responsible. Too much to remember, but your memory has always been awful.


(Immature. 8 letters. Defined as either “Not fully developed” or “having or showing an emotional or intellectual development appropriate to someone younger.” Source: Oxford Languages.


You’re 9 years old and your teachers say that they wish the whole class was just like you, and you soak up the praise like it’s the only thing keeping you alive. You’re 9 years old, and you’re so mature.


You’re 17 years old, and now you’re anything but.


You’re 17 years old, and now you know that “mature” back then really just meant “quiet”.)


You’re 17 years old, but you feel much older. You want to be much older. You want to grow up already and be your own person, goddamn it. There’s too little control, and it’s never yours. There are too many rules, too many orders and you never break them, never disobey.


You never learned how to say no, did you?


(Spineless. 8 letters. Defined as “Lacking resolution; weak and purposeless.” Source: Oxford Languages.


Source: Your entire life.


You’re 10 years old and you want to be liked more than you want to be listened to. You’re 14 years old and the thought of confrontation brings you to tears. You’re 17 years old and you wish you could stand up for yourself, but folding is so much easier.


You never learned how to say no, did you?)


You’re 17 years old and you love writing, love it so much that you want to study it. You love it so much that you’re drowning in ideas for stories or essays or poems. You love it so much that you hate everything you make, because it’s not nearly good enough, not even close. You’re supposed to be good at this, aren’t you? It’s a miracle that this is legible, and it’s a miracle you haven’t thrown your laptop out the window in frustration.


(Perfectionism. 13 letters. Defined as “Refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.” Source: Oxford Languages.


Source: Your shaking hands, constantly hovering over the backspace button.


Source: Your deleted drafts.


Source: The due date that you missed. Again.


Source: This, the very piece that you’re reading right now.)


You’re 17 years old, and you hate writing, actually. Just like you hate art, music, and sewing. Just like you hate all your other interests that you sabotage because you can’t meet your own lofty expectations. You’re supposed to be good at these things— or at least a few them, but it doesn’t feel like it. At all.


(Imposter syndrome. 2 words, 16 letters. Defined as “The persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.” Source: Oxford Languages.


You're 13 years old and hear this for the first time, and wonder if you’re even good enough to warrant relating to it. You’re 17 years old and nothing has changed.)


You’re 17 years old and you’re the worst mess you’ve ever seen.


(Source: Your life, biases and all.)



25 views0 comments