What do things look like from here
By Rianna Huertas
What do things look like from here?
I wish I had cared less about what people thought
That I wouldn’t have looked at myself in the mirror and wondered if other people saw me in the same way.
That I hadn’t thought about if my laugh was too loud,
If my thighs were pressing against the seat too hard, expanding with the pressure,
If the hair on the back of my knuckles and against my temples was as noticeable to others as it was to me.
That I hadn’t been tempted to get a size smaller, just to see if I could fit, and pretend that the size 4 waist was mine.
Knowing that they wouldn’t even fit over my calves, but buying them anyways
That I hadn’t constantly worried about if my stomach spilled over my jeans when I sat down, wondering if my shirt provided some sort of illusion that I was thinner
That I hadn’t looked at myself and thought about the flaws that others might have seen
If my face was too wide, my shoulders too broad
If my voice was too nasal, too deep, too grating, too obnoxious
That I hadn’t wondered if people criticized me as harshly as I had criticized myself
or if they cringed at things that I didn't even see
That I had believed I was as beautiful as my mom told me I was
I wish I could have found confidence in my body, that those mantras about self-love had actually worked.
I wish I hadn’t felt like an imposter in every space I walked into
Felt the need to hide certain parts of me just to fit in
That I hadn’t exaggerated truths just so people would find me interesting
That I hadn’t been tempted to share secrets, just so people would like me better
That I hadn’t wanted social capital,
Felt ambivalent to the social hierarchy that I still so fervently believe in
Even though I knew it had no real gravity on my life
But that felt inaccessible because I wasn’t pretty enough, rich enough, or wasn’t born in the right place
That this constant stress about my place in the overlapping social circles didn’t exist
That I hadn’t been so worried about keeping up with the Joneses that I’d lost important pieces of myself
That I’d been confident enough to not let one person alter my self-image
I wish I felt like I fit in, could fit in, without losing or hiding a part of myself.
I wish these anxieties had all gone away
That three years later, in my junior year, I wouldn’t still harp on the way I looked
Or think about my place in arbitrary social spheres
That my self-love had reached its full potential, progressing faster than it has
That I was less self-conscious of everything, believing with every fiber of my being that who I am
I hope that one day I will be, that in my own eyes I can find complete acceptance
Where my 18 year old self only saw things that needed to be fixed.