© Maria Traxler

I'm Not

This is me.

A girl, only fourteen

But who takes honors courses

And plays some sport each season.

All of her homework is turned in on time.

She takes the best notes of all the class

And always gets an A on her tests.

She's great, she's perfect.

She's pretty, and she doesn't use

So much makeup that her head falls over.

She's so nice, so obedient

She's so good at everything she does

Like piano and clarinet and flute

Softball and volleyball and basketball and

School, too.

And she's so nice!

Giving to charities, volunteering

Never has her mouth tasted a foul word.

Her teachers love her.

Her parents adore her.

Her siblings can always shake money out of her—

She's got it all from scholarships and gifts

And contests and just being great in general.

But of course they don't know her.

Simmering resentment

Boils under my skin.

Why do they treat me like a good little pet?

Am I amusing to them?

I don't need this shit.

There's me, the perfect one

And me, the real one.

Which do you prefer?

I'm not perfect, I'm not smart

I'm not athletic, I'm not musical

I'm not nice, I'm not generous

I'm not rich, I'm not pretty—

Why won't you just leave me alone?

Why can't I be less than perfect some time?

Would my parents be able to stand it?

No, they wouldn't.

Their little girl, so different

From what they expected.

Maybe I won't go to college or law school.

Maybe I won't own a company someday.

Maybe—just maybe—I won't

Live up to their expectations.

Wouldn't that be great?

To see the look on their faces

When they realize I'm not

Pretty—

Perfect—

Rich—

Nice—

Smart—

Musical—

Athletic—

Generous—

Who they thought I was.

Won't I laugh!

I'm not me—

Well, I'm not her—

And I sure as hell don't want to be.

Do I really need to be her?

I don't want to be her,

And I can't be her,

And I won't be her, because

I'm not her.

I'm not.