Around this time every year, I am reminded of how I met my best friend.
I remember the glittering email invite I received in 2013 titled My 13th Birthday Halloween Bash! xoxo. I clicked on it eagerly—being a new student as a pre-teen comes along with a very interesting set of struggles. I was a ‘late bloomer’ as they say, and I found the tween world of strawberry scented lip balm and crop tops and snapchat scores extremely daunting. From personal experience, I can tell you that life as a teenager in the 2010s is much more challenging than it seems.
As I inched closer to the date of the party, I began to dissect and analyse the invitation. What did ‘wear your spookiest outfits!’ even mean? Should I go for a daring Dracula look, or a more subdued pumpkin theme? Would a Frankenstein costume be more captivating than a giant monkey suit? After an agonizing few hours, I committed to dressing up as a resurrected zombie-clown. Having only been in school for a few weeks, I had limited friends to consult with beforehand on the intricacies of our outfits. So, I went ahead and began sewing brightly colored felt polka dots on my pants and caking my face with only the most glorious ivory and magenta shaded face paints.
Needless to say, the first five minutes of the birthday party were perhaps the most excruciating five minutes of my life. Little did I know that ‘spooky’ and ‘halloween’ were actually tween code words for denim shorts, sneakers and a tube top; my zombie-clown-esque teased hair and electric blue lipstick made me feel like a fish out of water. At least my face, now burning red, was hidden behind thick layers of sticky, sludgy paint. I was humiliated, but found comfort in the fact that one other girl was crazy enough to dress up as extravagantly as me - she was a ‘neon zebra’. Thus, neon zebra girl and I naturally spent the next few hours sulking in our shared embarrassment.
Little did I know that those few hours of mutual, momentary mortification would turn into days, months, and years of spending time together as teens, together learning to harden our shame into sparks of confidence. Today, I am once again on the cusp of change as I leave my adolescence behind and enter a new chapter of my life, and I am glad that I dressed up as a resurrected zombie-clown during Halloween in 2013. As I begin my journey into ‘adulthood’, I am ever so grateful for having met my best friend, a neon zebra companion, daring enough to propel me to take on newer, more exciting challenges in life.
(From October 31, 2020)