It’s my sincerest belief that I was born into this world irritated. Later in my life, I was told by my parents that I didn’t cry when I arrived; I looked around, wide-eyed and uncertain, probably thinking in my tiny baby brain: this is what I have to deal with for the next few decades?
I’ve since attributed a lot of my less-than-pleasant behavior to my ugly duckling syndrome- a feeble attempt to explain my discomfort and lack of patience around others, to which most people say, “awe”, as if they understand. And maybe they do. However, I wasn’t nice even when I was cute. My uglier years didn’t kick in until around 2nd grade, so I had plenty of non-hideous times where I could have been sweet, shy, and understanding, but alas I was not.
I dumped my preschool boyfriend Tony due to a black eye he received from his older brother right before our big holiday musical number. I didn’t want to be seen in pictures with him, and I felt like I was ready to move on.
I often corrected my parents’ reading skills when they attempted to skip over a few pages during nighttime story sessions. I would loudly groan when my fellow first graders couldn’t properly spell “stomach” and I once sat in the back of class rolling my eyes after smacking a few male classmates with my heavy lunchbox. My only excuse for my actions was that “they deserved it”.
Though I made a concerted effort to fit in junior high and high school, it was evident that they could all see right through my contact lenses, the highlights, and Hollister tops. I just didn’t care to be there. Everyone was bothering me, I already had everything figured out, I didn’t give a shit.
It would be easy to say that I was bullied because I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or any of those things, but that just wouldn’t be true. The fact of the matter was, I was mean. I remember attending a party thrown by one of my high school classmates during college winter break, and a girl who I never got along with stated that I was “acting like I was better than everyone”. My response? “I am better than everyone”.
Now that I’m older and arguably not hideous, it’s been much harder to make sense of my rude behavior, my disinterest in children or the holidays. It’s hard to go on a Bumble date or meet someone at a gathering and say, “Hello there! I don’t get along with most people!” or, “I’m not smiling because not only am I not happy, but I want to portray to you that I don’t want to engage in conversation!”.
If you’ve grown up in Southern California like I have, you’re probably aware of the standard residential expectations: be fit, be healthy, be happy, be kind. Despite my 27 years of life, I haven’t particularly managed to succumb to any of these pressures. I like to eat burritos and sleep, I’m rarely in a super good mood, and I don’t want to be nice to people that are walking slow or can’t figure out the difference between their, there, and they’re.
I’ve been fortunate enough to find friends that understand my humor, who know that when I tell them they have split ends or that their shirt isn’t flattering is done out of care, but in general, people associate the name Kalee Madruga with the world “bitch”.
I’ve heard all the quotes; I know that guys prefer happier, smilier girls. I know an Instagram picture in front of a field of flowers is more appealing than a self deprecating meme, but this is who I am. I’ve been criticized for being a downer, for not getting jacked up about putting up Christmas lights, and for going through 3 rounds of Botox at the age of 25 because my frown lines are so pronounced.
A part of me juggles with the idea of what my life would be like if I just forced it- if I just tried to smile more, if I feigned interest in surface level conversation, or if I pretended not to be irritated by unjust social issues. Truth be told, I found much more comradery in the city of San Francisco, where people were frequently complaining about the weather or how crowded the bus was or why rent was so fucking high. Misery loves company, am I right?
I understand that on the sunny beaches of San Diego, there should be little to be angry or bothered by. I understand that life, in general, is a gift and should be met with happy, toothy grins and lots of hugs. I even understand that my parents spent a lot of money on my orthodonture and even for their sake I could smile a little more.
It’s hard to find people that will like you for who you are, who will accept you for your little quirks and stand offish behavior. But it’s even harder to change, especially if you don’t want to.
Sorry everyone, I’m mean.