( Advance Level )
Elizabeth O’Leary was just like all other typical teenagers, trying to fit in with her peers. High school was difficult, especially for a young teenage girl new to the school.
Beth, as her grandparents called her, was no exception to the cruelty of her peers. The first three months, at her new school, were pure hell for her.
Beth’s parents sent her to live with her grandparents in the city, so she would have a better opportunity with her high school career.
Somedays Beth wondered why her parents sent her into the lion’s den when she was with her grandparents. She felt going to high school in her little community would have suited her just fine. She knew everyone and was comfortable with her surroundings, but her dad wanted more for her.
As an only child, her father had great expectations for her to become a lawyer in the future. This wasn’t truly what Elizabeth wanted. Not wanting to disappoint her parents, she reluctantly agreed to focus on becoming a lawyer. They gave her everything she ever wanted growing up so this was the least she could do.
It has been three months of complete turmoil since she started her first year in high school trying to get used to her new teachers and classes. Additionally, it’s been quite lonesome for Elizabeth. She tried to make friends, starting idle conversations with classmates, only to receive a cold shoulder.
“Beth, why such a sad face? You’ve been very quiet for weeks now.” her grandmother asked over dinner. “I have tried to make friends but I just do not fit in with these city girls.”
Her grandmother listened intently, remembering how difficult it had been for her when she arrived, like Beth, to attend the university. “It will get easier. I promise you. In the meantime, just focus on your studies and be yourself.”
Elizabeth looked up at her grandmother and gave her a half smile. She thought how easy it was for her to say this. She had no idea what she faced each day when she went to school.
Elizabeth helped her grandmother clear the dinner table and then retreated to her room to work on homework. She sat quietly at her desk. After thirty minutes she found herself scrolling through social media on her tablet.
Classmate after classmate had tons of pictures. Each with amazing positive comments and likes, adding to her misery. She didn’t understand what they had that she obviously was missing.
Elizabeth turned off her desk lamp and turned in for the evening. With the mood she was in she didn’t want to watch TV. As she drifted off to sleep she thought about changing her outward appearance. Possibly cutting her hair or getting a nose piercing. The latter she knew her parents would not appreciate.
The following morning, Elizabeth woke up in a much better mood. She had decided to change her appearance so she didn’t look like a country girl as she heard others say about her.
After school, she would stop by the corner market to purchase hair dye. Not just any hair dye. She wanted blue or pink or even red. It all depended on what was in the store in stock. Her long locks would also be cut. The ponytail look was definitely out.
Her parents allotted her monthly spending money which she never really had to use until now. The plans were to go shopping for more trendy clothes she has seen others wear on social media.
Was all of this going to help her fit in? She had no idea but she had to try. She is lucky her school allowed such individual expression as long as it was not offensive.
The market had blue and red dye. She looked carefully at each and decided the red would accent the tips of her dark black hair. She walked out of the store, after paying with a smile. For now, this was her secret. She knew her grandmother would try to talk her out of such a change.
When Elizabeth arrived home, her grandfather was watching TV while her grandmother was busy preparing dinner. “Hi grandma.” Her grandmother turned and greeted her.
“Well dear, you seem to be in a better mood today.” her grandmother said as she passed a spoon covered with chocolate. She had just finished making pudding for tonight’s dessert.
Elizabeth eagerly licked the chocolate off the spoon. “Yes grandma, I am. I am making some changes.” Her grandmother looked at her quizzically. She knew Beth would tell her soon enough so she didn’t pry for more information.
The remaining days of the week crept by. Elizabeth had checked on the bus schedule so she could go to the mall this Saturday for new clothes.
She could have asked her grandfather for a ride but she didn’t want to impose not have him wait for her. She had no idea what she was going to buy.
As chocolate pudding was served Elizabeth mentioned she would be taking the city bus this weekend to go shopping. Her grandfather looked at her as if it was not a good idea.
“Beth, You do not know the city enough yet. I don’t think this is a good idea. I will be more than willing to drive you anywhere.” Her grandfather furrowed his brow with concern.
“I know grandpa. I want to do this on my own. I will have my cell phone with me so you can check in at any time and I will check in with you also.” This still didn’t appease her grandfather’s concerns.
Elizabeth finished her dessert and excused herself so she could start on her homework. “I could have used a little help dear. Beth shouldn’t be gallivanting the city alone.”
Elizabeth’s grandmother smiled at her husband. “We need to let her do this, honey. She is having a difficult time in school.” Their conversation dropped after each mentioned their side and finally agreed not to agree.
Elizabeth couldn’t wait until the weekend. When the day finally came she was up at seven. Usually, she would try to sleep in but today the excitement didn’t allow her this pleasure.
The mall didn’t open until nine but she was ready by quarter to eight. Her grandmother had prepared eggs and toast for breakfast which she ate quickly. The bus ran every thirty minutes and it would take her about ten minutes to walk to the bus stop.
At eight – thirty Elizabeth was ready to head out. She gave her grandmother a kiss on the cheek and headed to where her grandfather sat. “I will be careful grandpa.” She kissed his cheek also and left, closing the door behind her,
The bus arrived on time and the trip was rather fast. She arrived at the mall a little after nine. She walked in and was immediately amazed at how large this building was. Store after store lined each side.
A promise was made she would be back home no later than three in the afternoon so she started down one side of the mall going into the stores she found interesting.
Elizabeth finished her shopping within an hour and a half. It was still early so she decided to go to the salon that she noticed on the first floor. The salon did everything.
Her intention was just a haircut to chop off that little country girl ponytail for good but she decided to get acrylic nails also. This was such a big step for her but when it was all said and done she looked at herself in the mirror. The girl she saw looking back at her made her gasp.
Elizabeth was pleased with how different she looked. The woman who had finished her nails told her how beautiful she looked. She smiled at her and paid for everything.
She picked up her packages and headed out the door looking back one last time to say thank you to everyone.
On the bus ride home, Elizabeth looked at her cell phone camera. She didn’t look like the little girl who had left in the morning. She wondered what her grandparents would say.
The walk from the bus stop to her home was filled with excitement and apprehension. She loved the new look but will her family? Her grandfather would be the one who would be most critical. As the only grandchild, and a girl, he wanted to keep her young and innocent.
She turned the doorknob and entered. If her instincts were correct, her grandfather would be the first to see her. He, most likely, would be sitting by the TV.
One step, two steps and a deep inhale as she walked through the door. There he was as she expected. Her grandfather looked up. His eyes peered over the top rim of his glasses.
“Oh my. You went shopping hours ago as our Beth and you returned as Elizabeth who grew up over a day of shopping.” Elizabeth looked at her grandfather trying to read his body language.
Her grandmother heard voices and came into the living room from the kitchen. She stood quietly absorbing what she saw. There stood a mini version of her own daughter. “Oh Beth, you look so much like your mother did at your age.”
Her grandmother walked over to her and gave her a hug. “Really grandma? I look like my mom? I always thought I looked like dad.”
Grandpa sat there looking and listening to the two exchange their comments. At this moment he felt older. “You look beautiful,” he said, then turned his attention back to the show he was watching.
Elizabeth and her grandmother made their way to the kitchen. Elizabeth was excited to show her grandmother all the clothes she had bought. She knew grandma would comment on a few.
Over dinner, the three had idle chit – chat. Elizabeth casually mentioned she had planned to dye the tips of her hair dark red. Her grandfather raised his eyebrows, once again.
“Why would you do that?” he asked. “That would be like putting red paint on the Mona Lisa.” Elizabeth chuckled. “Don’t be silly grandpa. It will wash out eventually.”
“Shush. I have all the faith in Beth.” her grandmother interrupted the two of them before the conversation went sour.
“Grandma, grandpa. I haven’t forgotten who I am and where I have come from. I wouldn’t change any of this. I just want to express my individuality. Let people know I am not who they think I am. A country bumpkin.”
She sighed as she looked at her grandparents, “Unfortunately. I am not the first girl to feel this way on how others treated me and I will not be the last. The new hair, the clothes and the nails are for me. I initially did all of this to be accepted but now I realized it all was for me. I like who I am.” She kissed each of her grandparents on the cheek and headed to facetime her parents to unveil her new look.
topenwithangel.com “Deafening Silence”
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We are all guilty of changing who we are depending on the situation, whether it is in our voice or the vocabulary we use.
With friends and family, we are more casual and relaxed but when we are in a more formal setting our voice pitch elevates and our vocabulary is precise. Wouldn’t you agree?
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peers – noun: within the same social standing
cruelty – noun: callous indifference
the lion’s den – noun: a place or state of extreme disadvantage
suited – adjective: appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation
surroundings – noun: the things and conditions around a person
great expectations – collocation: the feeling that good things are going to happen
reluctantly – adverb: unwilling or hesitant
focus on – phrasal verb: give most of your attention to someone or something
turmoil – noun: confusion, uncertainty
cold shoulder – idiom: cold and unfriendly treatment from a person
intently – adverb: eager attention
half smile – noun: a smile that is uncertain or short-lived
scrolling – noun: the action of moving displayed text or graphics up, down, or across on a computer screen in order to view different parts of them
misery – noun: discomfort or distress
obviously – adverb: easily understood
turned in – phrasal verb: to go to bed for the night
allotted – verb: to give
trendy – adjective: very fashionable
offensive – adjective: causing hurt, upset or angry
eagerly – adverb: expect
quizzically – adverb: in a way to ask a question
pry – verb: inquire
crept – verb: move slowly and carefully
furrowed – adjective: marked with lines or wrinkles
appease – verb: satisfy a feeling
agreed not to agree – idiom: to agree not to argue anymore about a difference of opinion
gallivanting -verb: go around from one place to another in the pursuit of pleasure or entertainment
head out – idiom: to leave or depart
intentions – noun: intended
( when) all said and done – idiom: after considering or doing everything
apprehension – noun: anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen
critical – adjective: expressing comments or judgement
chit – chat – noun: idle talk
casually – adverb: relaxed and informal way
interrupted – verb: to stop something from continuing
went sour – idiom: become unfavorable
unveil – verb: uncover
Question ( s ):
How important is it for you to “fit in” with others?
Would you change yourself to fit in?