Creative Writing

Nature vs Nurture: The Problems of Perception

Past – I know my past. Really, who else can truly know my past like I do? Although I can’t remember as many details about my early childhood as my parents might, it is I who knows my past self more than them. How, after all, would they truly be able to understand my past experiences? Everything I didn’t tell them. Everything that has affected me more than they could know. Because, really, what child tells their parents everything they’ve been through? Whether out of embarrassment or not wanting your parents to worry. We keep things hidden, it’s what we do. My past was generally good. I knew who I was and what I wanted to be. I was confident in myself, for a while, at least. Of course, secondary school wouldn’t be secondary school without some issues. I was bullied, and I was gaslit. It wasn’t until recently that I understood I’d experienced the latter. It wasn’t until recently that I realised how much this all messed me up. My family, through no fault of their own, thought I’d thrived in secondary school. They knew I faced some issues, but I still got good grades, so of course they didn’t see the struggles I went through. But that’s fine. That’s how it is. 

Present – Now, who knows who I am? I sure as hell don’t. I know I’m a bit of a people pleaser. That I don’t want to let people down, so I stretch myself in a million directions. They don’t ask me to, but I need to be there for them. I want to be there for them. Because I can be. Because, if I can help them in any way at all, I will. Because they deserve help. Of course, that doesn’t apply to me. No, I’m too busy. I like being busy. It’s productive, it can be fun. It stops the self-doubt from slipping in. I make jokes here and there, but not obvious enough for them to notice. It’s fine. I’m managing. My mind either goes 100mph or refuses to work, like a broken-down car. Now, it’s racing. But moments ago, it was spluttering and stalling. My family see what I want them to see. They see the good grades, or the positive feedback. They see the cute messages from friends, or the excitement on my face when I’ve led a successful social. They see the happiness and freedom I feel, but they don’t see the strain when the workload gets too big, or the struggle when my brain refuses to co-operate.

Future – What on earth does my future hold? In my family’s minds, I will have settled down. Made a family of my own. I’ve told them that I don’t want that. But, of course, they know better. By the time I’m forty, I’ll be married and have kids. That’s what they expect, I think. For years, they’ve joked that I’ll be a published author. That I’ll have written an amazing book series and will be touring all over the world. I think it’s a joke, but I also think there’s some hope behind those words. They expect me to be a literary success. It’s a dream of mine, no doubt. But that’s hard to achieve, and who knows what the future holds? All I know is that I want to be content with who I am. I want to be happy. I kind of want to have figured out what I want to do with my life, to know who I am again. Yeah, that would be nice. Most of all though, I want to make my family proud. 

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Louise Collins

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May 2022
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