Let me give you an example. There were a lot of "smart kids" in my high school, but I was one of "the" smart kids. Because of this label, random strangers placed expectations on me as soon as they found out who I was. Teachers in particular loved to do this, but sometimes I just couldn't do it, and it wasn't my fault. (Actually, this was probably worse for Jeffrey than for me because, thanks to the honours classes, he had many of the same teachers, so he was greeted by "Oh, you're Sujin's brother, aren't you?" He's not quite as...driven as I am, though.)
Then there's my love life (what little of it I've experienced). On the rare occasion that I was dating someone and my family did find out, they were in shock. My parents were always good at giving lectures to the guys (Robert actually told me that he felt responsible after said lecture!), but that wasn't why. The reactions of my peers weren't shocking either, as I was terrible at hiding crushes (none were requited to my knowledge) and they were always trying to set me up with someone. It was the rest of the family. "Sujin has a boyfriend?" they asked. Not out of curiosity--although they were (the curiosity was for Jeffrey's case)--but out of shock, as if I were too nerdy to be deserving of one. After all, my love of writing and languages (and later math) scare most people away. I think they were just in shock that someone so nerdy could find someone to deal with such eccentric interests. Occasionally this can be good, though, so I move on to another topic.
Reputations are hard to change. People here know me as an overachieving perfectionist who is always buried in a notebook. This hasn't changed much, but the rest of me has. Unfortunately, this has become the caricature of me, and there's not much I can do to change it, especially after years of living here and years of (even I must admit it) living it.
I'm thinking that this summer will be my last summer here. See, I'm a big-city girl trapped in a small town, and when this happens, I go crazy. Not just because there's nothing to do, but because I don't have a little trace of anonymity. I need it in order to maintain that last shred of sanity. I don't have it here.
I want to change my name and start over all alone. Well, maybe not change my name. Starting over alone is key, though. Then I can be truly alone, and I can build my own social slate--or no social slate if I desire. I can do as I wish without worrying as much about the inner critic or about someone hearing about my antics. I've grown used to this: in a small town, you hear about everyone's antics. I've always wanted to pull something, but I wanted it to remain anonymous, just because I don't really want the recognition for such things.
It's time to be free.