Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more that there are two girls trapped inside of me. Like the proverbial angel and devil on each shoulder, these two opposing girls wage a constant battle and I find myself pulled deeper into their tangled web as each day passes. There is the good girl. If you’ve met me before, this is the one you likely came across. She wears a smile on her face, maybe a little bit forced, but nonetheless earnest. She is crisply if not ornately packaged, wearing nice clothes bought in shiny bags. She applies her lipstick with a delicate hand, careful not to smudge around the edges. She is normal. But normalcy is tenuous, and if you know the other girl you do not know the good girl. If you know her, if you’ve had the distinct displeasure of witnessing the anxiety and the neuroses and the impulsions which the good girl tries so hard to scrub away after she reappears. I should apologize. Not only to you, but to her, the girl you could have known. Because lately, I’ve been feeling that there are two girls inside of me, and they are playing tug-of-war; but what they do not know is that this is a game without a winner. I am not me, I am them, but I cannot be them at the same time and yet one cannot exist without the other. So, you see, I am in a conundrum. Who am I, when all I am is an imbalance of and all I feel is an illusion? Let these be the whispers in your ear.
I am not special. Everybody wears masks to hide the truth, and nobody is how they appear on the outside. Reality is an incomprehensible television show wherein we are all playacting our best self. Some of us are just better actors than others. And I would like to tell you now that I do not know where I am going, but that I am trying so hard with every molecule in my body to get there. They do not tell you how difficult getting better is in the pamphlets they give you. Those bright smiling faces do not express the tears which brim beneath the surface, and even as I bite my lips I cannot keep them down. The words written in Sharpie marker tell me to smile, that there is joy in this world, but the words inside my head suggest otherwise and they are carved in stone. Some nights, I cannot leave my bed. The papers gather, the phone-calls go to voicemail, and still I resist coming up for air. I have learned how to find comfort in the wallows of my depression and how to be soothed by the familiar lullaby of my anxieties. “Better” is a foreign word, a far-off planet. This is all just a dream, and it is simpler to stay asleep than to pinch myself awake.
College is a time of expectations. The only thing heavier than these expectations is the urge to not let everyone down. I want to be better. I see her sometimes when I close my eyes, the girl I might be if only I could get better, the better girl. The better girl is unpolluted. Her every smile is genuine. No other girls bury themselves within her. I want to become her, to shed my skin and wear hers instead. Sometimes I feel I am growing closer to her, but I have always found that certain parts of me hold on tightly. Like jealous lovers, they hold me closer each time I try to run away. I suppose I should feel flattered, but I was never good at being the center of attention.
A Step By Step Guide to Getting Better: Brush your hair. Brush your teeth. Smile, even if it isn’t natural, because one day it will be natural, and all you are doing is practicing for that very day. Let go. Let go of the bullshit dragging you down, let go of the thoughts in your head, let go of the people who leave their fingerprints on you, nothing is irreversible, no stain cannot be cleaned, nobody and nothing is permanent but you. Let go. Let go. Let go.
Someday this will be in the past, and I will be in the future. I imagine the future all of the time, until it feels like a book I’ve read and loved. But like a book, I wonder if it is just a fiction I have written for myself, or if the reality I dream of is nothing but another byproduct of my mind which I cannot control. Yet I still believe in it. I believe that the good girl and the other girl will eventually hold hands. I believe that the better girl will be close enough to touch someday. I will be happy, a temporary sort of happy, a normal sort of happy, and it will be enough. I will be enough. There is a version of me somewhere who wears her hair short and who does not feel like she needs to change, and I trust that I am that someone, and I believe that someday gets closer every day.