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Girl in the mirror

12:53 AM August 11, 2015

I CAN’T describe myself as a wholesome person. Back when I was in high school, I did a lot of things that my parents weren’t proud of. I rebelled, to make the long story short. But it wasn’t the kind of rebellion that affected my studies, mind you. In fact, I managed to keep my grades consistent. Sure, I wasn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I did everything just to be able to graduate on time.

It was like a “I-think-my-life-is-boring-and-I-want-to-discover-something-new” kind of rebellion. Like any other teenager, I was searching for a niche in which I could belong. Whenever I looked in the mirror, all I could see was a plain-looking girl filled with insecurities and self-hatred. Back then, I wanted to be popular. I wanted to be someone that everyone looked up to. I wanted to be surrounded by people who adored me as if I were a rock star. At the same time, I wanted to be different from my peers. And what could be more unique than being an “Emo” girl?

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And so my fascination with the Emo trend began. Remember those band shirts, skintight black pants, black eyeliner and one-sided bangs that were all the rage back then? I rocked them! I even began learning to play guitar just so I could be part of a band because hey, I didn’t want to be considered a poser. My iPod was stocked to the brim with songs by Alesana, My Chemical Romance, Bullet for my Valentine, and all those other bands that screamed about cutting as if it were so glamorous.

There was even a time when I didn’t sleep a wink because I was so busy doing research on how to live the Emo lifestyle. I ate only one meal a day (because every Emo girl should be thin, not chubby like me). I had my tongue and an eyebrow pierced (because every Emo girl should have piercings!). I cut my arm with a razor (because every Emo girl should treat her skin like a journal of her pains and heartbreaks).

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Fortunately, my hard work paid off. I found myself gaining new friends, including the girl whom I had secretly idolized since the first time I saw her. My boyfriend loved me even more because we were both rocking the Emo lifestyle. Everything in my life was going according to plan. I asked myself back then: “What can go wrong?”

But the more I changed myself, the more depressed I got. I thought that being sufficiently popular to have a “cool” set of friends would extinguish all my insecurities. In fact, it made me feel more insecure than before.

I began to realize that the word “Emo” is actually synonymous with the words “solitude” and “sadness.” Maybe the songs that I was listening to contributed to the persistent feeling of loneliness that I was experiencing, because most of the Emo songs talked about such emotions.

A question suddenly popped into my mind: Do I really like the kind of life that I’m living now? Why do I keep listening to music which I don’t find catchy enough, in the first place? Why do I smoke just to please my friends? Why do I have to get so drunk every day?

Once again I found myself in front of the mirror, and realized how much I had changed in the past few months. My eyes were darker. My skin was paler. My hair was disheveled. My body was borderline anorexic. I had even broken up my relationships with old friends and family members because they disapproved of my lifestyle.

This isn’t me, I said to myself. This is my ugly version that my boyfriend and my friends want to see.

For the first time in my life, I began to see things in a different light. Looking in the mirror brought me back to reality. I woke up the next morning with renewed energy, eager to change my life and set it on the right path.

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I started with the physical change. I took off my tongue and eyebrow rings, gained some weight (oh, how much I’d missed food!), quit my vices, went back to listening to the music that I really love (yes, I love Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys!), and let the wounds on my arms heal.

I broke up with the boyfriend because he thought that I was so stupid to go back to being a plain Jane. I cut my ties with my so-called “friends.” And, well, I joined our school paper as a features editor because that was what I really wanted to do, in the first place. When I was still living the Emo lifestyle, my “friends” thought that it was a disgrace to have good grades and be a goody two-shoes. Fearful of being alienated from them, I held back my aspirations of becoming a writer.

But after that self-realization, I decided to suck it up and be myself. After all, being alone but real is more satisfying than being popular but being someone you’re not.

Chazzel Soriano, 23, is an English instructor at RareJob Philippines.

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