Confidentiality was not held sacred that day.
|I was in eighth grade when it happened.
It was my last year of junior high, and I wanted to try out for the spring musical, Cirque de Succ. With graduation coming up, I was under some significant anxiety, and I thought performing in the musical would give me something to look forward to other than graduating at the top of my class. Being the all-or-nothing type that I am, I auditioned for the role of Fatima, the glamorous e-girl that trains the horses.
I was so excited that I broke the news out to everyone within earshot throughout the school day, including the school speech therapist, Mrs. Moth. Upon hearing the news, she commented, "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Of course I am," I answered. "Why? Do you think I can't do it?"
"It's not so much that," she replied hesitantly. "It's that..."
"I don't think the role is right for you."
"It's the only one I auditioned for!" I whined in disbelief. "I can't go audition for another part at any given moment! Neither the staff supervising the production or I have time for that!"
The rest of our time together was a duel between her telling me to lower my voice and me raising my voice every time she did so. After five minutes of back-and-forth, I had enough and went to cry in the bathroom until it was time for study hall.
Eventually, I overheard conversations between other students who auditioned about which roles they got. That reminded me: Why has no one told me what my part was yet? Did I even get one? Did everyone forget I auditioned?
"Excuse me," I blurted as I interrupted a conversation between two other girls. "Do you know where the casting list is?"
"They announced it over lunch yesterday," one of the girls told me. Fuck! I was too busy playing games on my phone to ignore the annoying kid at my lunch table to listen!
"I didn't hear anything! Do you know which role I got?!"
"Uh, you're Umbra the Hedgehog, right?"
"Yes. How'd you know?"
"You're the first chair trumpet player in both the concert and jazz band. Everyone knows you."
"Alright, then. Enough of that, though. Which role did I get? Is it any good?"
"We didn't hear your name."
"Ah, shit! They didn't notice me!" I screeched in the middle of the hallway.
The second I stepped foot into my home, I cried to my mother that the school theater committee didn't even notice that I auditioned and forgot to cast me.
"I hate to tell you this, but Mrs. Moth and I haven't been completely honest with you," my mother said.
"Wh-what do you mean?" I blubbered.
"We told the theater committee not to cast you because of the role they wanted to cast you in," she answered.
"Wh-what-what's wrong with the role I got?" I stammered. "A-am I-I too ugly?"
"Well, I wouldn't say that," my mother responded hesitantly.
"No need to beat around the bush, Mom," I screamed as I turned my back toward her in shame. "I am too ugly to be on that stage! Mrs. Moth was right! I can't-"
"Mrs. Moth does have to do with it!" my mom interrupted.
"What did she say?" I had a wild look in my eyes as I snapped back forward.
"You're not going to like it..." my mom said hesitantly.
"Just tell me!" I shouted tearfully.
"Okay, fine. The theater committee gave you a male role because they didn't think you fitted the role of Fatima. Mrs. Moth knew it would hurt you, but she didn't want to tell you because she knew you would react like this."
My heart broke into little pieces that then broke again individually until my heart was nothing but a cloud of fine dust. I'm not that masculine-looking, am I? I'm the most developed out of all my classmates, my hair is long enough for it to be considered a feminine haircut, and I'm short. Perhaps my facial features are too masculine? Maybe I don't dress in a feminine enough style or in a way that flatters my otherwise curvaceous female figure. Is it because I don't wear makeup? Maybe it's because I don't manage my body hair regularly- or because I have body hair in general. I cried myself to sleep that night.
From then on, I never trusted Mrs. Moth ever again. I never discussed the issue with her because I didn't want to see her again. Instead, I emailed my speech therapist outside of school, Dr. Roberta, about it. Being a speech therapist and not an all-around therapist, she had no idea how to reassure me that I looked enough like my gender. We talked about my self-esteem and not letting others' comments influence how I feel about myself, but that was not the help I sought.
Every night since then, I lied down in my bed thinking about how things would have been different if I looked like Ruby the Echidna, the prettiest girl at school. She has not an ounce of fat on her body, especially not in the chest area, yet she still has enough lean muscle to give her a slight, delicate figure. I bet she turns heads daily with her big violet eyes and shiny red hair cascading down to the ground. She also dresses fashionably enough to not look like a boy in drag, but she looks gorgeous and feminine even in the shitty gym uniforms we have to wear. If I looked like her, I would've gotten the role of Fatima for sure.
My evaporated self-esteem affected how I viewed Ruby, too. Back then, I was cool with her and never even paid much attention to her. Now, I couldn't stop thinking about her and how much better her life was than mine. As if gym class wasn't bad enough on its own, now I had to feel agitated about how I compared to Ruby alongside how much I sucked at all the exercises and sports our teachers made us do. I wish I could apologize to Ruby, though, because she was still sweet as pie to me despite my bitter feelings toward her; she was one of the first people to come up on her own and ask to be my gym partner, which was a god tier act of kindness to me.