Dweezil, Drawing, and Why the Hell Am I Not Capable of Eye Contact?

May is coming to a close and in the grand scheme of the high school narrative, things are actually going really well. Jane is out of the hospital, I have three English classes, and the soccer team keeps winning playoff games. The semester is almost over. Summer is almost here.

We’re two weeks from finals, and teenage Brenna is surprised to realize that despite her general lack of enthusiasm for public school (also, that right there is a gross understatement intended for comedic effect), she’s not really all that impatient for the semester to end.

This time last year, I was restless, annoyed, unsatisfied with pretty much everything. (I was probably a little insufferable.)

But now, I feel strangely light. I want to dance around and put lilacs in my hair, and toy animals and feathers and tiny paper cocktail umbrellas. I want to roll in the grass like a puppy. I’m just not the same girl I was at 16.

The change is mostly apparent in little ways, like how the underclassmen on the soccer team will sometimes look to me when it’s time to organize ourselves for relay drills, and the way my teachers have started treating me like they expect me to take charge of projects or volunteer answers, and the fact that my hair has grown more than five inches and comes down almost to my hips when I wear it loose.

Also, now I sometimes wear my hair loose.

I have a whole closet of eclectic DIY clothes, some of which are disastrous, but some of which are excellent. I have a sister who looks like a best friend. I have pastel-pink fingernails and cinnamon lipgloss and I get picked for things, group presentations and committees and teams in PE. People say hi to me in the halls—sometimes people I’ve never even talked to. They nod and smile when they see me, and even though I’m still marginally terrified of strangers, I keep my chin up and work hard to smile back.

I am (sort of/kind of) someone-in-the-real-world, and I don’t even know exactly how it happened.

Since my 3-D Design class last semester, I’ve been getting more and more interested in sculpture—specifically ceramics (which, up until I actually took the class, I was convinced I hated). Drawing has always been one of my hobbies. I enjoy it. I am proficient at it. When I draw a picture of something, it mostly looks like the thing it’s supposed to represent. However, while my drawing ability is passable … it’s not really anything special.

Turns out, sculpture is what I’m actually any good at.

Lately, I’ve been hanging out in the art wing during my off hour, even when I should be spending that time filling out all these mind-numbing worksheets on figurative language or doing the reading. Instead, I sit in the empty ceramics room, amassing an army of little clay people. It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive, but weirdly enjoyable in a way that Whitman’s “Song of Myself” is definitely not.

It’s pretty much my new favorite thing.

I left in the middle of English* today to go down to the art wing. I wanted to pick up a figure I’d done in my spare time. Tock had said he was going to fire it yesterday and that it would be cool by this afternoon.

[…]

In the ceramics room, the cart was out and everyone was sorting through the pieces, looking for their own. I stood back and waited for the crowd to thin.

Suddenly, Dweezil said, “Ho-ly shit.”

A few people raised their heads, then went back to whatever they were doing.

“Would you look at this?” Dweezil said to the boy next to him. “This is $%&@ing awesome!” He was holding my figurine in both hands, turning it carefully. “It doesn’t have a name on it. You know who made this?”

The other boy just shook his head.

“It’s mine,” I said very softly from the other side of the ceramics cart.

Dweezil turned to look at me, kind of like he’d never seen me before. Then he set the piece very gently in my outstretched hands. It had cracked in all the places I’d expected it would.

“That’s really good,” he said.

I ran my finger along the cracks, feeling how rough the edges were. “It’s $%&@ed-up though, look.”

Dweezil squinted down at me over the top of the cart. “Are you kidding? It’s bitching. You know that, right?”

I just shrugged and looked away, which is not a gracious thing to do. My mother would tell me it’s rude, but honestly, I’ve got no idea how to act.

I wanted to tell him that his spoon self-portrait was my favorite thing anyone in our whole drawing class had done. I wanted to tell him that I saw his wire sculpture** in a glass case in the library and that it was amazing. My voice was gone though. He called it $%&@ing awesome.

It’s weird to think that I have somehow occurred to Dweezil. That he’s noticed something I’ve done, taken the time to appraise it, and then just announced that it was good. Like, without being embarrassed for having a damn opinion. I mean, if someone were going to notice me for something real, I wouldn’t have expected it to be him. I always sort of believed he doesn’t notice anything.

Except, when I’m actually honest, I know that’s not true.

In the figure drawing unit last quarter, he was the one who volunteered to sit for the long pose. He spent three days sitting up on one of the art tables with a sheet tacked behind him.

I drew him on a big piece of gray construction paper, using charcoal and white Conté

Every day, we got a short break partway through the class period, and then he would climb down from the table and wander around the room, looking at all the half-finished drawings.

Mine wasn’t good. I hadn’t figured out how to build up the Conté in layers so that I was actually modeling facial features. I didn’t understand how to use contrast and highlight to imply depth, and in the end, the only part I got perfect was his hands.

Every day, he would stand at my easel, arms folded over his chest. The way he looked at the drawing was sharp and brutal, like he saw all the flaws and the inaccuracies, but thoughtful too, like maybe he also saw the perfect hands.

I would stand somewhere off to the side, not looking at him because when you’re not that good with people, even just looking at a person can be a very awkward thing.

He never spoke, just looked at the drawing like he saw everything there was to see.

It’s increasingly weird to me, this idea of looking. Of seeing.

Anytime I consider #4 (which is an embarrassing lot), I’m pretty sure that I’m doing it wrong. I’m being obtuse or missing something important, and so I keep telling myself I simply need to be more observant. Like if I just gather enough information and enough raw data, the details will eventually add up to a person.

The truth is, I’m afraid of #4. And not in one of those obvious ways where I think he will make me feel stupid or be mean to me or laugh at me or anything.

I’m just … afraid. And so I spend just a ridiculous amount of time jogging around the practice fields after school with the rest of the soccer team, trying to reconcile the fact that I’m Having an Actual Feeling, and also, I don’t know what it means.

Since that day at the fence, I literally cannot look at him. Even when I pass him in the halls and actually have to turn my head at an awkward angle to avoid it. Even when he’s not looking at me.

My bizarre impulse to avert my gaze makes it kind of hard to implement data collection, so in the absence of any new information, I mostly wind up revisiting the things I already know. Also, this is kind of just what you do when you’re seventeen and you like a boy you’ve barely ever talked to.

I’m stupidly charmed by the fact that he blushes. It’s just so fantastic and so novel and I’m endlessly intrigued by the biology of it. I’ve never been a blusher. Sometimes if I’m happy or excited or it’s really cold out, my mouth and cheeks get pink, but that’s about it. I wonder if blushing feels like anything, and what purpose it serves, and whether he just views it as a peculiar tic, or if he hates it, or if he even knows he does it.

(A quick note from Grown-up Brenna—A few years ago, I read an article that talked about the evolutionary advantage of blushing. For real. And what the advantage basically boils down to is this: blushing makes people trust you. It makes them like you. It tells people that you are deeply attuned to the expectations of others, and so you probably won’t violate the social contract because you’re too aware of how other people will judge you. Also, Darwin called blushing “the most peculiar and most human of all expressions,” which I find apt and kind of delightful.)

So, what I’m saying is, thanks to the magic of being a 17-year-old girl, I successfully gloss over pretty much all-the-everything. I make #4 into this blushing fictional construct that only really exists in my head. Pretend-#4 is all the things I wrote down so blithely on my list in 10th grade—shy, sweet, smart, strange (secretly sentimental?).

Entirely imaginary.

Which kind of seems like taking the easy way. Because it is.

*****

Do you feel like people notice you for the true things—the ones you actually value about yourself? Is that weird? Gratifying? Do you wish it would happen more?

Also, are you a blusher? If so, what does it feel like? Can you tell when you’re doing it? And if you do blush, do you mind it? Because according to science, you shouldn’t. You should embrace the fact that you are evolutionarily making people like you!

Which is sort of like a superpower.

*Let me tell you about my American Lit teacher. He is spectacular. He’s the polar opposite of M and her obsession with order. To the point that if I finish my reading early, he lets me get up and leave. He doesn’t write me a pass, he doesn’t ask me where I’m going or tell me when to come back. He just … lets me leave.

**Re: Dweezil’s wire sculpture, I still totally consider it to be exceptional. As I remember, it was this round little man, nearly spherical, sitting with his feet splayed out and drinking from a bottle, with a whole mess of other bottles scattered around him.

No one else really tried anything exciting with the project. They took their wire and then made these long, flimsy, wiry things with it. This was the opposite of that. Just like with his spoon self-portrait, Dweezil zeroed in on the most obvious parts of the assignment, and then ignored them entirely.

25 thoughts on “Dweezil, Drawing, and Why the Hell Am I Not Capable of Eye Contact?

  1. It’s rare, I think, that people notice you for the reasons you want to be noticed, and even rarer that they do so when you’re not actively trying to get their attention. And it always, always feels special.

    Back in 2009, when my husband and I were travelling in the UK, we stayed for a while in the town where we currently live. During that time, we met a few people who are now close friends. One of them was sick with a monster-flu during our visit, but not in a way that was actually apparent, so the only impression I took away of him was as a quiet, polite guy who left parties early; he became a Facebook friend, and that was it. Then, a little while after we moved here in 2011, we were at the pub and he turned to me and said, ‘So, I’ve been reading your blog,’ and struck up a conversation about it. And I don’t think he realised, but it was genuinely one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me, because the fact that he’d not only bothered to look it up on his own, but to read it and find it worthwhile enough to talk about was a proper – and very rare – compliment.

    Ditto an earlier thing that happened with another friend, a uni colleague of my husband’s. They and about four other people shared a big office on campus, and after work I’d often head up there, grab an armchair and read while I waiting for them all to finish for the day and head to the pub. And this guy, who again is now a really good friend, was immensely shy; the first few times I saw him there, I don’t think he said two words to me. I was, therefore, surprised when he friended me on Facebook, and even more surprised when the first message he sent was to say that he’d noticed I was reading the Silmarillion, and what other fantasy books did I like? And I was struck by the fact that even though he’d been too shy to start a conversation in person, he’d still noticed something significant about who I was, and deemed it a worthwhile basis for starting a friendship.

    Anyway!

    And in answer to your other question: I don’t often blush, but when I do, my cheeks feel physically hot, like they really are burning. This happens whether I’m angry or embarrassed. So when you hear it described that way, it’s not just a metaphor!

    • I don’t think he realised, but it was genuinely one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me

      I’m kind of delighted by how often this seems to be the case—how the things that mean a lot to us are the ones that aren’t necessarily obvious, and maybe the other person doesn’t even realize they’ve said something meaningful. Which maybe is part of what makes it seem special! You know it’s completely genuine, no empty flattery and no artifice …

      even though he’d been too shy to start a conversation in person, he’d still noticed something significant about who I was

      Okay, so I know that not Every Shy Person in the World is like this. But. It seems like a lot of them are! In fact, I feel like I notice a lot less now than I did when I was younger, and I think it has to do with the fact that I now put way more effort into being engaging toward other people than I did when I was in high school and even college. I just don’t have enough room in my head to watch *and* make conversation :)

  2. I’m a blusher. And yes, I know when it’s happening. I can feel my cheeks actually get warm, and then I duck my head…which is when everyone knows what’s happening, so I shouldn’t duck my head…but I do.

    I hate that I blush, and I wish I could control it. But people are always like, “Oh, you’re so cute when you blush!” That only makes me feel small, and like I’m stupid.

    But let’s call it a superpower! :)

    • This is just so interesting to me—this whole issue of physiology, and why people’s hands shake, and what makes someone run into furniture or drop things or automatically tear up their Spanish handouts when they’re not paying attention (okay, yes, those last things are me). Like, none of these behaviors seem all that conducive to survival, and the walking into furniture one actually seems kind of counterproductive.

      people are always like, “Oh, you’re so cute when you blush!” That only makes me feel small, and like I’m stupid

      Yes, but! Maybe what they’re trying to tell you is that when you blush, it puts them at ease and gives them a feeling of goodwill, and they just don’t know the right way to describe that, so instead they call you cute :) (Do you like how I am now holding forth on something I know barely anything about, just because I read an article in Scientific American or somewhere, like four years ago?)

  3. I don’t know what people notice about me, really.

    But I AM a blusher. My cheeks get bright pink and I always feel really self-conscious about it even though everyone assures me it’s adorable. It feels hot and tingly, something like goosebumps but only my cheeks feel it. My face will actually get hot to the touch. I blush when I am angry or flattered or nervous or embarrassed or anxious or scared. When I realize I am mentally undressing a guy. When I’m caught lying, or I am lying and I expect to get caught. When I have to do something that I really, really do not want to do and I’m trying very hard not to cry. And I blush when someone surprises me by noticing something that I didn’t think anyone noticed about me, or that I didn’t even notice about myself.

    • I don’t know what people notice about me, really

      I honestly think this is one of those things that’s very hard to know, because knowing pretty much depends on the other person actually mentioning it, rather than just filing it away. (I try now to be better about mentioning the things I enjoy or admire about people, because I realized that while I appreciated lots of things, I hardly ever said so.)

      I always feel really self-conscious about it even though everyone assures me it’s adorable

      And now, according to science, it turns out they’re being totally serious :D

  4. Do you feel like people notice you for the true things—the ones you actually value about yourself? Is that weird? Gratifying? Do you wish it would happen more?
    Hmmmm. Sometimes not so much. I know that things I feel and think I know must be very qualitatively different from the way people feel and think they know about me. So that even if they understand things I think about, worry about, and care about, they still don’t exactly get it because they’re not me.
    Something about myself, my stubborn, argumentative side, hasn’t shown itself (really, really shown itself) for a while. But I reconnected with an acquaintance from a while ago, and realized that we disagreed in not just some of our ideas, but also the frameworks we use to discuss those ideas. Naturally, I’ve taken it upon myself to make him almost uncomfortably aware of the fact that I intend to win every argument (sorry, discussion) that we have. It’s kind of nice to be able to exercise this side of me. But I also don’t want people to think that that’s the most dominant or important side, so I don’t think it needs to get anymore attention. But at the same time, I value my ability to actively discuss things with people that don’t share my opinions, and I like to think that when I use this ability moderately, others can appreciate it too.
    Also, are you a blusher? If so, what does it feel like? Can you tell when you’re doing it? And if you do blush, do you mind it?
    I am a blusher. Sometimes my neck and ears even get in on the party. I feel so unbearably hot when I blush, and I tend to squirm or shift, to try and hide the blushing. Sometimes it feels like I’m involuntarily betraying my private thoughts to people by showing them on the outside. I blushed today when a professor called on me to answer a question that I really didn’t have trouble answering. But for some reason I blushed. Ah, well. I guess having a superpower isn’t so bad.

    • So that even if they understand things I think about, worry about, and care about, they still don’t exactly get it because they’re not me.

      This is like the most frustrating thing about the world, this idea that I could become an absolute expert in communication—I mean, I could perfect it—and I still wouldn’t be able to accurately convey a thought or an experience!

      It’s kind of nice to be able to exercise this side of me. But I also don’t want people to think that that’s the most dominant or important side

      I relate to this on just a bizarrely broad level! My sister is basically the same person all the time. Meaning, you could put a handful of people in a room, and they would pretty much reach an agreed-upon description of her. With me, it’s *never* been like that. My different components come out based on who’s around me, and so you could ask ten people and get: “Quiet,” “No—friendly,” “No—argumentative,” “No—sweet,” “No—shocking,” “No—diplomatic,” and so on. And they would all be true, and still, none of them would really qualify as a “dominant” trait.

      Sometimes it feels like I’m involuntarily betraying my private thoughts to people by showing them on the outside

      This is so interesting! I didn’t really think about it, but that must be kind of alarming, especially if you’re more of a private person. When I was younger, I was pretty impenetrable—I mean, I was ALL poker-face—and I was still convinced that everyone could see what I was thinking.

      a professor called on me to answer a question that I really didn’t have trouble answering. But for some reason I blushed

      It’s so funny when that kind of thing happens. Once, before a practical exam, I got really twitchy and hyper-alert—almost shaky, even though consciously, I didn’t feel nervous at all. It was just going to be me and three professors I’d already had classes with, going over material I knew cold, but it was like my fight or flight response thought something terrible was about to happen!

  5. How funny – I thought everyone blushed. I blush like crazy whenever I’m put on the spot, or angry, or nervous. The worst is when I’m in the middle of talking, and suddenly think I sound like an idiot (I talk really fast and way too much), then I freeze up and my face surges with that prickly heat, which just makes me more embarrassed. And then sweaty, ew. haha, it’s awful. Definitely DOES NOT feel like a superpower – I’d be thrilled for it to stop. :)

    You draw perfect hands!! I am so jealous. I can draw everything but hands! Well, and cars – but those are a little less impossible than hands!

    • I thought everyone blushed

      Okay, so this is where my science gets shaky. (Also, what science?) I think people as a species have the capacity to blush, because my face gets red if I cry, but the actual blushing physiology has something to do with how your brain responds to stress and how much stress it thinks there is? (I, for instance, respond to acute stress by turning into a dazed little glacier, which I think must be an opposite thing.)

      Hands and feet! Isn’t that the weirdest thing? When I had freshman drawing in college, our very first assignment was this big line drawing of our own hands in a bunch of different positions. I think it’s safe to say that my teacher was a little disappointed once she realized the rest of my skills were not up to the level of the first project :D

  6. I think most people feel like they aren’t being seen. There’s part of me that badly wants someone who doesn’t know me well to characterize me with things others don’t notice. I want someone to think of me and smile because I wear wild colors of nail polish (A glittery forest green at the moment). Once I was hanging out with a group of people, just laying around. I was reading a book, and kept having to stop myself from laughing. After a little while a friend of mine burst out in a guffaw. He had been watching me for about ten minutes, and it amazed him that a book could make me laugh out loud. I was inordinately touched. I spend a great deal of my time noticing people. I like learning about them. Something Teenaged Brenna and I have in common. So later, when I describe them to someone else I can say something that actually carries a little bit of what I’m describing with to my listener. I pride myself of painting a unique and realistic picture, but I try to always do so with affection, even for the most tiresome. I have a craving for someone to look at me with that kind of interest, empathy, and humor. Although, I’d prefer they leave out my sometimes unflattering comparisons. (“She looks the way a black haired poodle would look, if it was made in to a human. Sharp nose, woolly coal gray hair, and large, dark, intelligent eyes that are slightly too close to gather.” True, but I’d prefer a little gilding of the lilly in my case. I did mean it without any criticism. It’s just how it is.)
    Once or twice people have noticed things about me that were important, real, and a little bit secret. I was frightening, but good. And it meant more that they had discovered this facet of me for themselves.

    • I think most people feel like they aren’t being seen

      This seems really apt. I mean, I can remember spending most of my teenage years *especially* being so doggedly sure that I was imperceptible. Not even necessarily invisible, just fuzzy around the edges—totally indistinct.

      Also, I love that someone laughed because he was watching you try not to! That’s the kind of thing I would then file away about him.

      I have a craving for someone to look at me with that kind of interest, empathy, and humor.

      I still remember having the realization that other people weren’t noticing things the same way I was. I was so affronted! (I think that’s when I decided I must be invisible, because if people weren’t noticing me to the same extent I was noticing them, well, they might as well not be noticing at all!) (Also, even though I prided myself on not being a black-and-white thinker … I kind of was.)

      About the unflattering comparisons—oh man, me too! And I never, ever mean it in a negative or critical way (if I have something negative to say, it will *all* be couched in terms of attitude and behavior). I’m always just trying to be as precise and evocative as possible, but it’s so easy to read subtext into things, even when the commentary isn’t really commenting on anything except a general impression. And those are almost meaningless.

      Once or twice people have noticed things about me that were important, real, and a little bit secret

      This is always thrilling and scary at the same time, I think. A lot of times I have this feeling that I want to take up space … but not TOO much. Just a little. Just enough. And then when someone turns their attention on you, it’s like you’re taking up their whole field of vision. Which is a lot.

  7. “Once or twice people have noticed things about me that were important, real, and a little bit secret.”

    It always terrifies me when this happens. I feel like…I didn’t give you that information; how did you find it? If you’re able to notice it, that means I’m doing something wrong, so what did I do? But at the same time, it’s wonderful (assuming you like that person, anyway) because it means someone was paying enough attention to notice.

    • It always terrifies me when this happens. I feel like…I didn’t give you that information; how did you find it?

      But at the same time, it’s wonderful (assuming you like that person, anyway)

      And this is exactly why I’ve always been really conflicted! I remember wanting so badly for people to notice me the same way I noticed them, but whenever anyone actually *did* it always just scared the hell out of me! I think I liked the idea of being noticed a little bit more in theory than I did in practice :)

  8. Do you feel like people notice you for the true things—the ones you actually value about yourself? Is that weird? Gratifying? Do you wish it would happen more?

    The things about myself that I value most I keep pretty well hidden (like how I say a blessing for every road kill animal I see or that we bury dead birds when we find one) because they just seem too personal or like the things that other people won’t understand.(I am only comfortable telling you b/c you are in a kind corner of the internet world.) I think the general things that people know about me are pretty good ones and get recognized, but sometimes I do actually wish that I came off softer, b/c that’s who I am inside — someone who is disciplined and staunch in my positions b/c I am so soft and concerned for other beings that it makes me rather assertive and angry at times on their behalf.

    “Also, are you a blusher? If so, what does it feel like? Can you tell when you’re doing it? And if you do blush, do you mind it? Because according to science, you shouldn’t. You should embrace the fact that you are evolutionarily making people like you!

    I blush very rarely and haven’t really done so since adolescence. I did, however, have an experience semi-recently where it happened and I felt it rush into my face. A friend/colleague outed me to another co-worker, whose respect I cherish, as being a devout fan of The Bachelor. As the then-rape and violence prevention coordinator who was supposed to be working to dismantle all problematic gender myths and stereotypes, I was mortified that he would know about my deep-seated love of the show. It’s funny now, but I sure shot my friend one heck of a look of contempt then.

    • My sister is just the same way about animals—she feels terrible about roadkill and can’t stand to go fishing, and actually being the one to run over something is about the worst thing possible. (Once, we were driving through the Ozarks at night and it was bucketing rain and she hit an armadillo that I swear was actually a casualty of the truck in front of us—totally unavoidable, but it was still … very traumatic.)

      It’s funny about coming off softer, because I DO come across that way and sometimes wish I didn’t. It’s just that even though I generally do think of myself as a nice person, soft doesn’t really match the inside. As early as high school, it seemed like teachers felt almost *betrayed* when I behaved in some way that was “difficult,” because they always just expected me to go along to get along and follow the instructions. Which I do. Until someone wants me to do something stupid :)

      Liking problematic things: oh, yes! I actually like a lot of things that I suspect I probably shouldn’t. Specifically, I really like to watch UFC, which is basically the most problematic thing ever. Also, my sister is appalled by this.

      you are in a kind corner of the internet world

      I really, really am! And I think about that sometimes—what I would do if mean people showed up and started being mean to my blog-friends. It would just be so out of left-field, but I’ve seen it happen other places (admittedly, mostly places with more/broader traffic). Logically, I know that I would just have to be the boss and use the delete/block stick, but I’m still just really glad the eventuality has never come up.

      • “Specifically, I really like to watch UFC, which is basically the most problematic thing ever. Also, my sister is appalled by this.”

        Ha! I think you have me beaten on the liking of problematic things with that one. Your sister and I could sit together in the corner with “Violence as Entertainment is Wrong!” signs or something like that. ;)

  9. I don’t know, really. I think statistically there must have been a time that someone noticed something about me that surprised me, but I can’t think of any instances right now. In terms of people I don’t know that well noticing things, they may or may not, but I can say they rarely (if ever) actually talk to me about it. My friends are generally pretty good about it.

    I’m not a blusher. I can think of one time in my life someone pointed it out. Though I do get embarrassed *all the time*, I tend to mumble and fall quiet, which I don’t think is endearing…

    • In terms of people I don’t know that well noticing things, they may or may not, but I can say they rarely (if ever) actually talk to me about it.

      I think this is probably a really common scenario—that people may notice things, but not necessarily say anything. These days, if I like something about someone, I try to be good about actually saying so, but when I was a teenager, I just never would have mentioned it. It would have seemed too weird or too embarrassing, or some other thing that seemed really scary at the time.

      I tend to mumble and fall quiet, which I don’t think is endearing…

      This is me, right here—not adorable, just awkward and kind of uncomfortable! (Also, I am queen of saying the wrong thing at the exact wrong time, so this happens kind of a lot.)

  10. “Do you feel like people notice you for the true things—the ones you actually value about yourself? Is that weird? Gratifying? Do you wish it would happen more?”

    I don’t think people see me at all. I just started at a new school four months ago, where pretty everyone has been together for two years. They see me because I’m the “New Girl” and because I’m at least a head shorter then them and when they try to tease me I saw something back. They don’t see me when I’m standing alone at recess or in the hallway. They don’t see me when I’m the only one by herself at a desk meant for two. They see a girl, but I don’t know if she’s me.

    I do blush. When people are embarrassing me, mostly. Sometimes it feels tingly and warm, sort of like goosebumps. Sometimes I don’t notice until people point it out to me. Usually, it is vaguely embarrassing and I try to make it go away. Which absolutely never works, but a girl’s got to try.

    • They see a girl, but I don’t know if she’s me.

      This is very much how I felt through most of high school, but especially the year I first started. (I’d been homeschooled my whole life.) The school was really big, and even though I knew it couldn’t actually be 100% true across the board, it still felt like everyone there already knew each other. And I think I would have had a much harder time if I’d started public school in junior high. (The nice thing about a really big school is, no one actually knows if you’re new or not—you might just be new to them.)

      One of the things I had the absolute hardest time with was figuring out how to basically demonstrate the person I was on the inside, because it felt like unless I learned how, no one would ever see the things I thought were the important parts. Sometimes that just meant wearing the clothes I liked, but mostly, it meant talking to people about things I was actually interested in and making jokes about the things I thought were actually funny. Which also meant risking the possibility of some people not liking me or thinking I was weird. But it’s how I found the friends I really, really loved, so it was definitely worth it.

  11. So, I totally thought I’d already replied to this post, but it turns out that my response just got saved in my notes file. So, yeah.

    Do you feel like people notice you for the true things—the ones you actually value about yourself? Is that weird? Gratifying? Do you wish it would happen more?
    I am honestly not sure if people recognise the true aspects of me, mostly because I’m not really sure what those aspects ARE. I do like it when people figure something out about me that I haven’t specifically told them, cobbled together based on my views on other things and what I say in class. (I like these people because it shows that they are just as interested in the world around them as I am.) 
    I like it when people challenge my view of myself and make me think really hard about who I am and who I want to be and where those discrepancies lie. (lay?) 
    I wish this would happen more often, because I notice all these things about other people, and the least they can do is notice everything about me, too.

    Also, are you a blusher? If so, what does it feel like? Can you tell when you’re doing it? And if you do blush, do you mind it?
    I blush when I’m embarrassed, but only in very specific instances. I blush whenever my friends try and get me to gush about the guy I like. I blush whenever I’m hugely wrong in answering a quiz bowl question, and the answer is obvious to everyone else. My face is naturally quite ruddy, so when I blush, I just feel the heat rush to my face. (Not unlike when I get sunburnt; it doesn’t hurt, but I feel the heat.) I really don’t mind it, since I’ve learned to sort of control it and work through it. 

    • Hey, there’s no time limit on these things :)

      (I like these people because it shows that they are just as interested in the world around them as I am.)

      Yes, yes, a hundred-thousand times! I love talking to people who take pieces of information and then combine them to make new information. Seeing how other people think is like the next best thing to a map of their brains!

      I like it when people challenge my view of myself

      For me, this was Wit—always. He was noisy enough and behaviorally-questionable enough to seem like he never noticed anything, but put him to the test and man, he cut right down to the heart of things.

      I wish this would happen more often, because I notice all these things about other people, and the least they can do is notice everything about me, too.

      Haha—I was always so frustrated by the fact that here I was, taking note of all these little tiny things, and then it seemed like one else was even retaining anything. The least someone could do was return the compliment! (Because it is a compliment. Although I’m sure there were people who thought the way I hoarded details was just very, very weird.)

      I blush whenever my friends try and get me to gush about the guy I like

      This totally spurred a long-lost memory of hanging out with friends when I was about 12. They went through a phase of teasing each other about different boys and saying “You’re blushing, you’re blushing, you like him!” And of course, the goal was to *make* people blush, and of course it totally worked, because it was really invasive and uncomfortable. But due to my no-blush physiology, it did not work on baby-Brenna. They would get right up in my face and say, “You’re blushing, you’re blushing,” and in true baby-Brenna form, I would just go straight to the facts and say “No, I’m not.”

      (I was no fun.)

  12. Some people notice the true things about me and some people make assumptions based on the nerd-girl stereotype that I frequently fall into. The ones who notice the true things, especially without my explicitly telling them, are always my favorite people. It’s a really weird feeling when someone realizes one of these things about me, but it’s quite lovely too. Sort of an unexpected connection.

    I am an extreme blusher! It makes my face feel very hot, so I always know when I’m blushing. Talking about guys I like makes me blush, talking TO guys I like makes me blush (this is perhaps the most uncomfortable manifestation of the blushing, especially when it is mentioned to me during the conversation). The pressure of someone bringing attention to me, getting a question wrong in class, fighting verbally with someone else…almost anything vaguely stressful is enough to make my cheeks pink. It is super embarrassing and I am told all the time, like other commenters, that “you’re so cute when you blush!” or “you were blushing, that’s so sweet!” and it is MORTIFYING.

    • It’s a really weird feeling when someone realizes one of these things about me, but it’s quite lovely too. Sort of an unexpected connection.

      Yes! I love these little moments where there’s a sense of connection or camaraderie over something you’d previously considered … well, maybe even invisible! I just think it’s really gratifying. (I wonder if that’s how extraverts feel all the time?)

      The blushing phenomenon is still just really interesting to me—maybe even more so after all these comments, because the general trend seems to be that people who blush typically get pretty positive reactions from the people around them, but still feel very uncomfortable and self-conscious about it. Which, I don’t know what it means, but it’s interesting!

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