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There you are, seemingly on top of the world. Look at you, the legend that most look up to. The top of the class. The one that’s always involved with the community. The one with talents to spare. And yet, they don’t know you, do they? What if they find out…that you’re not the person they think you are?

I can at least relate to one of those things. In high school, I was indeed the one with the highest grades. And yet somehow, that did not satisfy me. I feared that the minute I had to think creatively, I would be exposed. The slightest failure would agitate me throughout university, even though everyone struggled with physics. Through Master’s, I am constantly frightened that I may end up permanently in a rut, unable to contribute anything meaningful, and be revealed as the unimaginative idiot that lucked his way into grad school my pessimistic subconscious tells me I am.

For the longest time, my greatest phobia were people’s eyes. Eyes which symbolized judgment. Silently watching, with hints of disapproval. What did they see? Were they gazing right through me? I always try to come off as sincere, but perhaps my behaviour betrayed my intended image. But not all eyes are the same. Many are indeed harshly punishing of idiosyncrasies, but not everyone’s. Some eyes invoke curiosity, a desire to see the various faces in all their beauty, even the scarred ones.

It’s funny. When people talk about me, they remember me for intelligence, but when I reminisce on my youth, I remember primarily my selfishness and insensitive behaviour towards certain people. To people, the worst aspects always stick out. You expect the mirror to shine perfectly reflecting, so even the slightest dent or smudge ruins perfection. Not to excuse my ill deeds, but as a wise Soothsayer once said, “Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.” I choose to be the person that everyone knows is totally genuine regardless of whether they like me or not. And often, I surprise myself with the part of me I never knew I had, but someone saw and brought out.

And so, what if they find out who you are? What if…the illusion slips and they see the real you?

And like what they see?