I watch with a fake smile on my face- the pictures of my friends partying. It was my idea to go to that diner and enjoy the dish they were having. But it wasn’t their fault, right? I was the one who wasn’t at home; I was the one who had to go to the dentist. No, they didn’t do anything wrong.

A few months later, I laid in bed late at night, thinking about how boring my birthday was. None of my friends got me a card, nobody even hugged me. It was alright though. I was the one who said no gifts, no parties, that I would give them a treat and buy them whatever they wanted from the good bakery near our school. How were they supposed to know that I did actually want cards, that I did want someone to hug me and sing for me and make my day special? No, they didn’t do anything wrong.

It was always me making myself sad, keeping the bar too high. I couldn’t host parties since it was a family event, but I thought maybe I might receive just one special gift. Whether in the form of words, cards, even a phone call. Was I even important to my friends? But still, everyone forgets things from time to time. I’m sure next year will be better. It was just a coincidence that they happened to be too busy today.

I started learning how to draw and paint. I was inspired by a video I was watching on YouTube late at night. It made me so happy to do something productive with my time. Recently I have been unable to do much apart from waking up to eat and sleep. It was summer after all, and going out in the afternoons was dangerous because I could get sunburnt. Anyway, our apartment complex doesn’t have people my age to spend time with. I couldn’t make a long trip to other people’s houses every day. Painting was really soothing. Plus, the paint dried quicker in the heat, making the learning process less boring.

I showed my family my latest project, the painting of a landscape I had spent hours working on. It wasn’t the best, but it lifted my spirits thinking of how much I had learned by myself. I wasn’t expecting them to see me as a little Picasso, but a little more praise would have been nice. It’s true though, what I did wasn’t that special. Lots of kids my age made paintings much better than this. Maybe I ought to try showing it off after I get better at it.

It was my fault though, that I hadn’t gotten any praise. I expected too much for something that was clearly not worth it.

But for how long will I continue to seep unrealistic expectations from myself? Will there ever come a day when I do not set myself up for disappointment?

Authors: Suditi Mukadam and Anousha Ambar

Editor: Nandini Patil

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