I smile. “I would love to volunteer to help clean the church.” The statement is true. I would. More importantly, this shows the people around me that I am going above and beyond. I, in essence, am better than you. This image is important to my status in society. I must portray a balanced image of humility and perfection. I know I’ve hit it spot on because I’ve actually practiced the smile enough in the mirror and the octave of my voice to have the right mix of sincerity and excitement. The group organizer makes a comment about me being a saint and how grateful she is that I am always willing to help.
On the outside I know that everyone wishes they could be me. I’m asked how I do it all. I revel in their envy and desire to be me. Men want to date me, women want to be me. I don’t really know when this facade started. I suppose it was when I was young. The idea of being perfect was driven into my head. Don’t sin, be selfless, help others, be a good person over and over this mantra was driven into me. Living in a highly religious community the expectation between my family, church, and school were all the same. I couldn’t change my behavior in one without it affecting the other. The gossip mill dominated and if a scandal got out it wasn’t just social suicide, it might as well be exile.
I suppose this is why the double life started. I was 15 when I tried my first cigarette. I was spending time with one of the popular guys a couple years older. He was hott, sexy and a bit of a bad boy. Every girl wanted to be with him, but he’d been offering to give me a ride home lately. We talked til the parking lot was almost empty before he leaned forward and kissed me. I was flying on cloud nine. It wasn’t much later when he pulled out a pack of Marlboro Lights and lit one up. He took a drag and taunted me with his cocky eyes. He offered the smoke with a smirk. I wanted him to like me, but I had always been taught not to smoke. I’d never been in a situation like this before and had no idea what to do. I took the cig, then a drag. It was miserable. I couldn’t stop coughing. He started to laugh and took the cigarette from me. When my lungs stopped rejecting my decision, he gently guided my chin towards him and kissed my lips again as if to say that’s my girl.
The minute he’d dropped me off at home I knew I’d be in trouble if my parents found out. Worse I couldn’t tell my friends. They would never have approved of my actions. I couldn’t talk to anyone about what had happened. Instead I went inside and brushed my teeth and showered. Later when I sat down with my family I was amazed at how easy it was to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. When I called my friends they were caught up in him kissing me; I simply never had to mention the cigarette. It was easy to leave it out.
It hasn’t stopped since. I’ve drank alcohol, I’ve done drugs, in fact right now I’m abusing my prescription for percocet. Hell, even my hair is a facade, it’s dyed blonde. Not only have I had braces to straighten my teeth, but I’ve had a nose job, boob job and liposuction. I’ve spent hours and hours doing my hair and make-up to be seen as beautiful. I spend hours doing things I don’t care about just for this image- to be the girl everyone wants and everyone wants to be. On the outside I am perfect. Inside I am full of deceit and false intentions. I have ruined other girls simply because I felt threatened or to avoid being exposed. I’ve been doing this for too long to risk public exposure of the real me.
The real me isn’t perfect. The real me is full of lies and false impressions. The real me is full of sin and selfishness. I help others and pretend to be a good person because it helps me. The real me has deceived a lot of people. I’m not saying I’m a horrible person, I’m saying the perfection isn’t real. I am both good and bad, but of charity and sin. My motives are my own, no matter what anyone else thinks. I know who I am and the struggles I face. Yes, I face struggles too. I just can’t stand the idea of you knowing that I have them, because then we would be equal or your would realize how much better you are than me.