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“I haven’t danced in so long. The drink was strong because it makes me nod and let my friends drag me to the dance floor.

‘See, this is fun,’ she says to me, and I smile. I have the reassurance I needed, I’m fun, see?” – Gracie

Growing Up

Fiction. Based on a true lonliness.

By Bry LeBerthon

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.

The basement is dingy and damp, the white paint layered thickly on the walls peeling, the smell of strong booze filling the air. It’s packed with people- people that you don’t like, people that you don’t know, the one friend you invited from outside the club.
Your chest tightens with dread, but you force it down. Socialize. You can see the hatred in the others’ eyes.
I don’t want this either, you wanted to tell them. I’m here for the booze, I’m done trying to fit in. I paid for a ticket too.
You don’t say any of that, you wash your doubt down with a shot.
You feel sticky.
Your friend smiles and tugs you towards the dance floor. Reluctantly, you follow. This is college! I’m a regular college girl, you tell yourself, knowing you are an imposter. You look different from the rest, dress different, sound different. Everyone can see you’re not the same. The walls stretch taller, wider, and yet the space around you shrinks. More party goers pour into the room. Another shot, another two.
Your friend grinds on you. You return the favor. People cheer, and you’re ashamed.
You dream of blending right into the wallpaper, rotten and water-damaged as it may be.
You realize, on your fourth shot, that nothing has really changed.
No matter how short your skirt is, how low-cut your crop top is, you are still the same girl you were in middle school. Awkward, quiet, shy. No amount of booze or weed can change that. No amount of socializing or having sex. You will never be the it girl. You will never cease to be a little different, no matter how hard you try.
Right before your fifth shot, you start taking pictures, your friend and the strangers she’d been dancing with by your side. Hours later, after crouching over the toilet spilling your guts, you’d look at them and smile.
In the picture, there are two slutty cats, a teenage Hugh Hefner and pirate girl by their sides. They are all smiling and laughing from the alcohol, a blush spreading over their faces and chests. In the picture, you look almost normal. Indistinguishable from all the rest. Your biggest regret was that you hadnt taken your glasses off for the photo. You’ll remember that tomorrow night.

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