The Nightmare

by Marija Ristic

THE NIGHTMARE

I don't know who I am any more. I have never known perhaps. I don't know what my purpose in life is. I don't know what I want to make of it. I don't know how I want to spend it. I'm lost. I'm lost in roles I play every day of my life.

I teach kids, but I'm not a teacher; I don't feel like one at least. But I still do it. I prepare classes every day; I try to dig up some fun stuff for kids in order to keep their attention for a minute at least, which I regularly fail to do; I go to school every afternoon and teach English to children every day. I've been doing so for the last two years. Still don't feel like a teacher.

I often find my thoughts easier to be expressed in English, but I'm not a native English speaker. And I often do so and get carried away with it, especially when in company of people who don't understand a word of what I'm saying. They'd just give me that look until I realized that I had drifted again and felt embarrassed. Still, when under pressure I can never think of the right English phrase, and defend myself from my boss's or students' accusing looks by saying: "Well, hey, I'm not a native speaker!"

I think a lot. I think until my head starts hurting. I think about things that a normal person doesn't even notice and I notice things that maybe don't even exist. I build theories and assume underlying principles of everything, provide deep insights and expose shallowness and superficiality. And most of the time I talk nonsense, things that make sense only to me. But I am by no means a philosopher, couldn't even dream about it!

I smoke a lot, just not on daily basis; it repeats every weekend at least. I smoke whenever I go out, whenever I'm stressed out, whenever I'm happy, whenever I feel like it, and sometimes it even happens oftener than I would want it to; but then again, I can live through the month without a single smoke. So, I guess I'm not a smoker, although I'm not really a non-smoker either.

I can't live without music; I surrounded my life with it and live it thorough it. I sing to myself all the time and put so much effort and passion into it as if there was someone listening and sharing the pain or gladness of my music with me. But I can't play any instrument and never could get to learning to play one. Therefore, in real life I'm not a musician.

I make jokes all the time and people do laugh at them. Almost all of my friends would say that I am a pretty funny person, even though I feel bitter most of the time. So I'd say that my sense of humor covers the general area of light entertainment to severe sarcasm. This, however, definitely doesn't make me a comedian.

I'm not depressive but I feel depressed quite often. I'd get that little shadow over my eyebrow, that slightly gloomy scent in my nostril and just let it get hold of me pretty easily. One breath - and it gets me straight into my bedroom lying in bed all day long with no desire to see anyone, in case they might try to talk me out of it. God knows how many times I thought I should be on medications but no specialist has made their diagnosis official.

I am only twenty-five, although I'm not young at all. I feel so serious, so responsible, often tired, kind of worn out, uneager, either too focused or too distracted, as demented old people do. I stopped identifying with people of my age a long time ago. I never did, actually. What is there to identify with? Polished half-naked girls with burnt hair to make them seem lighter and burnt skin to make them seem darker at the same time, educated on beauty magazines and fed on fast food, molded in salons and gyms and in-spirited on self improvement courses like "I am the Master of my own Destiny" paid for by equally insecure but rich boyfriends? A friend of mine once said that I had turned from a little girl straight into my grandma... Maybe she was right...

I feel a terrible need to write every now and then, but I haven't had anything published yet, so I cannot say I'm a writer, now, can I? Unless in the meantime someone else other than me is reading this, like you for example. Would that make me a writer? And why is it that I get this need to write especially when I'm down, I wonder? Why don't I catch some bright moments in words? Why can't I make notes of something nice or funny that happens to me so that I can return to it every time I fall into this kind of mood? Or so that my eventual prospect reader such as you can perhaps not be bored to death?

Beats me. I don't know anything anymore. I don't even know who I am. I don't know what my purpose in life is. I don't know what I want to make of it. I don't know how I want to spend it. I'm lost. I'm lost in roles I play every day of my life. I got lost doing the job I don't really like, teaching a language I don't really know, thinking things I can't get to the bottom of which, trying to make people I don't really care about comfortable and pleased, desperately putting of the moods or unwillingly succumbing to their command, secretly pursuing talents and interests without perfecting them or making them reality... So lost I don't know who I am anymore. Or I have never known?

Even this! It's not getting me anywhere! One would think that all these things that I am conscious of will bring me to actual awareness of them. A wise man said: to know the problem is half way to solve one. I don't see it working for me! I mean, look at all these facts about myself I have just listed! They are all true, I didn't invent a thing. They are all real, they are out there right in front of my eyes. And can I do something about it?

No. I'm completely powerless. I feel weak, small, insignificant in my own eyes. So why bother? It's just making me mad at the moment! I feel frustrated like a child in front of a problem they're unable to grasp. I'm back at the elementary school level when a teacher was trying to explain to me a mathematical problem of some kind: I'm there, following the whole story, understanding all separate detail, but unable to put them into one bigger picture that leads to a solution so obvious to everyone else in the class. I'm so mad and powerless that it brings a tear into my eye! And I cry all day long... And I keep telling to myself it's not that I feel self-pity, no! It's just that all this anger has GOT to come out!

But I also know that I can't fool myself. I am pathetic and I know it. Always have been and always will be. No matter what people say. However beautiful, intelligent, talented or competent they tell me I am, I know that underneath it all I am just one pathetic little creature that cannot prove its right to living.

There... I said it. It didn't hurt a bit. Truth never hurts me. Truth never bothers me. I can take it my feet firm on the ground. I'm not afraid of it. What I am afraid of is my inability to act upon it. I fear my self because I don't know my self. Isn't it the worst nightmare you can have when you're awake?

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