“Growing up I have always been asked, ‘why do you love to be the center of attention? What does the attention get you?’ I now have a reason to tell the truth.”
Ashley said in front of her sophomore character development class. Ashley had been struggling to give her main and ancillary characters depth beyond the smiles she had carefully painted on their faces.
“Growing up was hard for me. Everyone always talks about the love they deserve, but what love does one deserve when they never received any. So what does that mean? I am not deserving of love? In middle and high school, no boy ever seemed to like me back for who I truly was. Sure, I was pursued at times in hopes that it would lead to something further, just be tossed aside later. No one ever stuck around to help me grow into a person, be there to share the peaks and the pits about daily life. “
Her joints locked. Trembling began to encompass her peripheral nervous system starting at her elbows and making its way down to her fingertips. The rattling of her assignment paper began to echo from the corners of the room.
“So, I grew into a young woman who seeks attention at any cost. Yes, I sometimes made an occasion, initially deemed someone else’s, about me for 10 minutes. And in that 10 minutes I would command all the attention; everyone’s eyes staring at me and all of their thoughts circulating their minds, about me. They breathe just to exhale a sentence, carrying my name across the room to be inserted into conversation and therefore everyone’s brains. Some attention is necessary to thrive as a human. I would have committed suicide long ago if I had not manifested this survival instinct. So I stand here today in class to show you my personal character development throughout life because then maybe you’ll understand why I always write stories about love rather than loss. Stories that cultivate and thrive off the possibility that bad things don’t have to happen for us to appreciate the great things we come across every single day.”
The tension in the room was palpable as her fingers continued to tether the perimeters of the lone paper in her hands. Without lifting her head to look at the class, she started to walk toward the door. Dropping the paper to glide by her side as she strode up the lecture hall stairs, none of her classmates were able to notice, being stuck in a haze of realization of how truly developed her character is compared to that of their own, that her paper was blank. Everything she had said was from a place too raw, too real.