“I was distraught by her stress ball. I was getting my anger out. I squeezed, and squeezed, and soon, in a matter of time, the stress ball popped open, the white foam oozing out into my hand, onto the floor into a big puddle. The guidance counselor told me to leave right after that.”
I hate myself.
Well, I don’t hate myself— I hate the way I dress. I hate the way I look.
The girls at school always make fun of me. They say that my clothes are irrelevant. They try everything to break me. But it won’t work. I love my personality; I just hate the way I look. I get taunted. Tortured. I can’t do anything.
I really want to change. I want to dress well. Nothing looks good on me, though. I just want to have something that I can rely on. I want to look pretty. I really do. The truth is, I’m just scared to look pretty. I’m afraid I’ll still be taunted. I don’t think that I could be pretty if I tried.
All the girls seem so confident. I’m just that shy kid that sits in the back. I have friends. But I’m quiet, and my friends don’t seem to know who I am. They think I’m like them. But I’m not. I’m creative and amazing and I want to be something that I know I’ll never be if I tried. Don’t tell anyone, but I have a burning passion for art. I just want to paint my life on that canvas. But I never will.
I have all these feelings bottled up inside, ever since the first day of eighth grade. I’m a ticking time bomb, counting down the minutes until I burst. The second hand on the clock is ticking. It’s matching the beat of my heart. The time’s about to be noon— when all the kids get up and leave.
Coming from room 301, there is a girl who screams louder than a car honk, going on for one full minute. That girl is me. Emily Dixons.
How did I end up here?
How did I end up in the guidance counselor’s office?
Why did you scream?
Why are you angry?
Is something wrong?
I was distraught by her stress ball. I was getting my anger out. I squeezed, and squeezed, and soon, in a matter of time, the stress ball popped open, the white foam oozing out into my hand, onto the floor into a big puddle.
The guidance counselor told me to leave right after that.
I saw a therapist a week after that. He gave me pills.
I felt the same. Cold-stone Emily Dixons, master of ugly.
After my morning OJ, I felt different.
I picked out my nicest clothes. I organized everything in my backpack.
I got an A-plus on my homework that day.
Best of all, Aviva Goll didn’t torture me that day. I felt confident.
When you feel good about yourself, you feel good about others. You trust them. You feel them. I was nice to people. I was getting A’s. Everybody liked me.
Aviva Goll did something that really got on my nerves, though. She stood up on the lunch table, and screamed something so ballistic and wrong into the air.
“Emily Dixons wets the bed! She peed on my backpack last year!”
What?! I didn’t! I got really annoyed. So I gave up. I let her have it all. Why try to be something you can’t be? I tried to be like Aviva. I really did. But she has it all. The friends. The clothes. The social acceptance. Aviva has everything I desire, however, I’m sure she’s not into sharing.
Then I had my second glass of OJ that morning. The world had turned upside down. The OJ tasted a bit different. It had a bit of a bland taste. Oh, well.
Then a third glass of OJ at lunch.
I was a completely different person.
I had a smile as long as a piece of gum when you stretch it out.
I was nice. I was starting to dress differently. This kept going. The Magic OJ was working. I always made sure to drink my two glasses of OJ before I went to school.
I was getting comments like these:
“Nice shirt, Em!”
“Love your backpack!”
People were noticing me. I was the exact thing that Aviva said I wouldn’t be. I was the shining star; the whole thing the school looked forward to seeing. The Magic OJ was doing it all. The Magic OJ could do no wrong.
I was finally the person who I wanted to be.
My bucket list— yes, I have a bucket list:
Emily Dixons’ Bucket List of Magical Adventures
This is my chance.
I’m completing my bucket list!
This is Emily Dixons’ Rise to Stardom. This is the day where I start completing my dreams. I’m finally going to rule the school. This was my chance to show everyone that I can do as much as them. I dress nicely. I’m nice. I have totally amazing beliefs. I, Emily Dixons, promise to make the school fabulous in any way that I can.
I started with the student council. I was easily elected in a landslide. It was me versus Snotty Nose Sammy. Nobody wanted a snot-ruled school.
My first order of business was making the school purple, which is my favorite color. I declared the following day Purple Day. I bought purple ribbon, purple streamers, purple construction paper, and just about everything purple that I could find at the craft store.
We did it! We purplefied the school. One by one we made the walls the sweet shade of the most detailed lavender, the bulletin boards displaying mountains of purple construction paper. I don’t think a lot of the kids liked it, though.
“YOU GIRLY-ED UP THE SCHOOL!” I was told by all of the boys. They didn’t think my work was too good.
That got me down. But, when I got home, all I needed was a glass of the magic OJ.
I did it myself.
I got home, grabbed the thick plastic bottle of OJ, and poured it into the cup.
I did it myself.
I drank it all in 30 seconds.
I did it myself.
I felt nothing? Why did I feel nothing?
Because I did it myself.
My lightning bolt of power did not reach my body.
It didn’t work. I did it all myself. My newly-born motivation. I did that myself, right? No. I didn’t.
“Mom, the Magic OJ didn’t work!” I whined to my mother.
“WHAT! I haven’t given you OJ since yesterday!” My mother yelled, with a burning passion that was still elegant but fierce.
“I poured it myself,” I replied, calmly.
“Oh, honey. It’s time we tell you about the pills.”
That’s what led to the great Emily Dixons Fall of 2013.
I could do this myself.
All I needed to do was walk in there and be a leader. I convinced myself I was motivated to do this.
However, I wasn’t motivated until I had the Magic OJ.
I’d just lost my life.
Mom gave me Magic OJ this morning. This was the magic stuff. The pill stuff.
I wish I could handle my own battle. I wish I could do this myself. It’s like I’m standing in a black hole and there are steps but I would have to be hoisted up to reach them. I’m standing in a black hole with nowhere to go, nothing to say, nothing to do, just waiting for someone to mystically help me accomplish what I wanted to do myself.
Wishes are complicated things. Even though you know they’ll never come true, you want it so bad to the extent where you would murder someone for it. You still have that little sliver of hope, locked away inside the safe you call your heart where nobody could find it even if they tried.
It’s hard to fight yourself. It’s hard to believe you would ever come to a disagreement with yourself. But you do. Your brain is defying the logic, saying, “I CAN, I CAN, I CAN!” Only to be let down with failure.
Failure is complicated, too. It’s hard to accept the fact that you’re wrong. After all the work you’ve done, your certificate of achievement is that what you did was a waste. A waste of time, a waste of energy. You’re a waste in life. You’re a failure.
Yeah. That’s what you think until you get your kryptonite. Your Magic OJ. The thing that brings you back.
That’s the secret of humanity. Bounce back.
That has me thinking.
I walked in there on Monday with a serious face. That could at least make me think that I could handle this.
The band room was right there. Room 435. I made sure that Mom packed me more Magic OJ just for this. I grabbed it out of the side pocket on my backpack and drank it all in 3 gulps.
I grabbed a saxophone and a book. I learned everything in what felt like a minute. In ten minutes, I could play five songs.
I led the jazz band. We played my favorite songs, like Miley Cyrus’ new album, and Katy Perry’s new album.
I don’t think anybody liked it, though. They all said I was doing pop songs and that we needed classic jazz songs, like Louis Armstrong. Who the heck is Louis Armstrong? I had not heard of him before. Was he like Elvis Presley? I think that’s who my parents listened to when they were my age.
People were getting really angry. I had to pull out my secret weapon. Katy Perry’s “Roar.”
So I did. That’s how I ended up being the only one in Room 435, surrounded by instruments screaming to be played.
I spent last period emptying spit valves.
I had a secret weapon.
I’ve always wanted a place where I could just scream. I could get all my emotions out with a good ‘ol scream. So I started the Emotion Center. Room 436 was vacant, so I asked the principal, and she said I could transform it.
But people weren’t using it correctly. I wanted it to be a scream center.
They were using it to cry and to whimper. I demonstrated like so: “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
I was in the guidance counselor’s office again.
Who are you?
I thought I could do it.
I could rule the school.
But I didn’t.
People have personalities. People are who they are. People may try to change who they are, but it’ll never work.
I can do things. I can. I may never rule the school, but I’ll always be here. I can do things. I can draw. I can make things with my hands. With my brain. I have a purpose in this world.
You do, too. You have a purpose. You can do something, too. You can. You really can. You have to just go and find out what it is.
Maybe you’re good with animals. Go volunteer at the animal shelter. Do what you need to do to make you happy. Whatever it is. Just do it. That’s what I did.
It was so fast.
They welcomed me quickly, while still keeping elegance and class. The Art Club was so nice.
Anias, shy but friendly. She was so talented, making the most intricate patterns.
Jeffrey: his people-drawing skills were flawless. He drew a sketch of me in five minutes and it was incredible. He didn’t miss anything. Even my mini-pimple on my forehead.
Samantha, whose environment paintings were incredible — she could capture every speck of a star in the night sky.
Iggy, who could do no wrong with her detail. She drew my plastic water bottle and I thought for a minute it was a photograph.
And me, Emily Dixons, who was the happiest person on earth. I could finally be who I wanted to be: an artist. I never thought I could, though. I can do anything and everything I wanted.
I came at the November mural project. Nobody knew what the mural should display. I knew exactly what that mural should state.
Glitter. Markers. Crayons. I was so happy. I was doing what I’ve always wanted to do. It doesn’t matter about looking pretty, or having the newest thing. It matters that you feel good about yourself.
I rose up. I had a bit of stardom.
I fell down. I was something I wasn’t.
Do what makes you happy.
“That was my rise and fall,” I said to Mrs. McKinley, the eleventh grade English teacher.
My final essay was complete. Now everyone knew who I was. The pills I take in the morning. The clothes I wear. When I found out who I was destined to be. An artist. They knew my well-being was artificial — that I was depending on cold stone medication. I’m happy about that.
I got home only to find a nice, fresh glass of Magic OJ sitting on the counter. Eleventh grade was finally over.