Tears are my mortal enemy. Ever since I was little, I was taught by my father not to cry. I thought he wanted me to be strong, like a boy would be. I remember being so hurt that I shouted at him to let me cry because I was a girl. Because of what my father taught me, I’ve never liked crying in front of others. I’ve been trying to be better at allowing myself to cry, but somehow it is still something I struggle with now.
To me, crying was a sign of weakness, and I never wanted to be seen as weak. Looking back, I think my father was trying to teach me that strength has nothing to do with your gender, but what’s inside you. I didn’t understand that, and for the longest time, I only took away the idea that I am never to cry under any circumstance.
Yet there I was, sitting on the side of the link bridge in our Hall, and the tears just kept coming. We have been in the music room for the past 3 hours or so because we were trying to choose a set list for our next performance, but I felt so out of place, like the words I said carried no weight. Someone came in to ask who was performing, and I was left out of that list. It wasn’t on purpose, of course, but it was so upsetting that I took my friend’s bag on the pretence of fulfilling my promise to help keep it, and I left.
The tears were discomforting to me so I kept telling my friend I was okay. Of course, he didn’t believe me, and soon enough, two other people joined us on that bridge. The girls gave me a hug, sandwiching me between them, and I remember one of them said this:
“You belong somewhere.”
Truth is, I didn’t think I belonged anywhere, at least, not in Hall. I’ve been feeling like I lost my place. Maybe it’s the effect of stepping down from a position in the main committee after you’ve dedicated a year of your time on it, because suddenly you have all this free time and it feels like you have nothing to do to fill your days, hours, and seconds. Or perhaps I’ve always felt lost, like I didn’t really belong anywhere, and recent events just made that feeling more pronounced than usual.
But I belonged somewhere. At least, according to her, I belonged with them. I belonged with my other friends too, who sat down and listened to everything I had to say the next day after dinner, and made sure I was okay. I knew that, but I had a hard time believing it.
A funny thing happened that night. The rest of them came out of our music room, someone came back from supper, and yet another person just happened to chance upon us. We all just sat on that link bridge, laughing and talking about anything and everything.
I can’t remember exactly what we talked about — only that the conversation lasted till about 3 or 4 am — but I remember feeling exactly what she said: that I belonged. It’s a strange feeling. It kind of creeps up on you and you don’t even notice until halfway through talking to someone and laughing at what someone else said, and then it hits you: you have people who are willing to stay up way past their bed times, sit at an uncomfortable spot, and just talk.
We’ve all felt like the odd one out. We’ve all felt like we belonged nowhere. Maybe you’ve felt the need to quip in a conversation with a large group just to make sure you have a voice, or maybe it was something you said that made the entire room fall into an awkward silence. Whatever it is, we’ve all wanted to fit in somehow, to be accepted by people around us, to know that we belonged.
You don’t need to fit in exactly to belong. These new friends — and even old ones — I made through the love of music certainly aren’t carbon copies of each other. We don’t all listen to the same bands, or read the same books. Some of us don’t even read books. Some of us prefer movies to television shows. Some prefer mathematics and biology to, say, Pride and Prejudice. But it didn’t matter for us. It shouldn’t matter. What matters is that one thing that ignites new friendships. It may be that you both like McFly or photography or it may be that you both abhor green peas. Find that one thing because it’s a start.
Sometimes, that is all you need. Open hearts, and a fuse to start the fire.
To Fridays is a weekly column that hopes to be able to give you all the encouragement and love in the world. #tofridaysvp