Almost everyone treats me like garbage. I could count the people who don’t make me feel terrible, who make me feel wanted, on one hand. I wish I could say I was overreacting, but I’m not. There are too many things that hurt me in my life and I don’t know how to scrub myself clean of them. I don’t even know if it’s possible.

I have to focus on school more. I have spent too much time living in my mind, pretending that grades don’t matter. To be honest, I don’t mind trying to work harder, because what else is school doing for me? The people here make me feel even worse than the ones at my last school. I thought this would be one of the best years of my life, but all it has done is make me feel uglier inside and out.

My philosophy club adviser said that he hates seeing teenagers who are cynics, because they have not seen enough of the world to dismiss it as a sinking pit. But I think it works the opposite way: Until I get to see more of the world than the one I’ve lived in for 14 years, and until I meet people who don’t all turn out to be the same, I don’t know how I can be anything other than cynical. ♦