High school is a fucking nightmare.
Imagine taking dozens if not hundreds if not thousands of hormonal teens and locking them in a room together with adults who are instructed to teach. These kids don’t care. They have no investment.
Middle school is arguably worse.
These kids are stupid. Literally. Cognitive development stalls when the body has better shit to worry about. Like, uh, puberty? Why do you even try getting them to sit still and think? Put those bodies to work so they’ll know how to use them!
And how not to.
Maybe school is for some people. It should be for everyone, but come on—let’s be real. On a fundamental level, it doesn’t appeal to our baser instincts—tries to crush those baser drives under the weight of thousands of years of “Aren’t we better than this?”
What if we’re not?
What if we aren’t better than this?
What if we don’t have to be?
Why are you trying to push this?
There’s a boy at my school who’s in love with me. I don’t know who he is. I don’t know what he looks like. But I know him.
I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I can see inside his mind.
I know when he looks in the mirror. I know what he sees—I don’t see it, hair color or the shape of his eyes, but I know what he sees. I know what he looks at and how he feels about it.
I don’t know who this kid is, but I pity him, the way that he feels about himself, the way that he thinks—that he knows—other people feel about him. It’s inhuman. And all he wants is to connect…
But then he starts thinking of me and in his mind’s eye, I can see all of the things that he wants from me, specifically. Compassion? Of course, but that’s only the beginning. Compassion is not an endgame, it’s the boy’s way in. Compassion, he believes, is the hook—or at least whatever it is in the fish that makes it follow something shiny.
But I am not a fish, and this kid isn’t shiny. Not even enough that I know who he is. I have tried, looking around the cafeteria. Trying to see who looks me in the eye.
I assume that once I’ve looked him in the eye, I’ll know.
But maybe it doesn’t work like that.
Maybe I’ve seen him and I still don’t know.
The things he wants to do to me, the things he wants to do to other girls, to other human beings… What made him this way?
Did we do it, we, with our neglect? But thinking that way is succumbing to gaslighting, it’s the victim embracing the criminal, excusing the crime to blame it on fate. That’s not helpful.
But is it so helpful, then, to lay all the blame on him? From the sound of it, from the feel of it, he has been villified from every angle for a very long time. It’s hard to imagine him having survived this so long with so many people hating him—or even with the belief that they did. Can’t anything be done? Maybe our actions didn’t cause his outlook or desires, but could they stop them? Curb them? Is there nothing to be done?
I keep this self-loathing boy at the back of my mind as I sit with my girlfriends. Kayla knows that I know things, but I don’t want to tell her all I know. I don’t want to burden her. So I just sit and I let them talk and I wonder and wait for a clearer premonition of these terrible things.