I remember the time when I felt the forty-five sets of curious eyes staring at me as if I were a lab rat. Well, I might as well be, I was smartly dressed with my hair properly plaited, knee length skirt, pulled up socks and polished shoes. Oh, and did I also mention my fluorescent pink bag? It was a huge hit in my earlier school where we really hadn’t gotten over the ‘pink’ phase’. But this, my new school, was filled with blacks and blues. Yes, my new school. It gave me my first ever experience with a co-ed facility. This school had BOYS. I know I am stating the obvious, but till the seventh grade my experience with the opposite sex has been very limited, courtesy the all girls convent that I had earlier been in.
Most of the people here, in my college, think it’s hard to get used to an all girls environment after spending so many years in a co-ed institution. Well, they don’t know what it’s like having to shift from a small city all girls convent to the biggest co-ed school in the capital of India. To say it was a culture shock would be an understatement. My assumptions that people would want to get to know me, that they would help me were immediately quashed. Boys were an enigma to me. I couldn’t understand their football lingo, couldn’t understand why it was necessary to look pretty around them, and couldn’t even understand why how much I got in my half yearly exams mattered so much.
So, for me, being in an all girls environment is ‘freeing’ to say the least. It is easy to be what I want to be. If one fine day I don’t feel like taking out my prettiest kurti and wearing matching earrings, it’s okay. There is nobody to judge.
But in a coed school, I was judged. I was judged because I did not adhere to what was considered normal girl behavior. I did not want a boyfriend. For God’s sake, I was seeing so many boys for the first time in my life; most of my time was spent being intimidated by people who talked Prada; it could be a dog breed for all I cared.
I can fully understand when people complain about lack of exposure and the lack of eye candy in an all girls environment, but I believe that having the opportunity to truly discover and explore myself without feeling ashamed is a gift. I was full of insecurities at that time in a coed school, and maybe will always be. I used to look in the mirror and would want to shy away because I was not very pretty. I did not have guy friends to boast about. But later, getting into to an almost all girls class in humanities taught me one thing- you have to love yourself before somebody else can. And as time passed by, I was valued as a person, not as a pretty face.
Diary, I think I am average, in looks and in personality. I am a part of the 68% population. But at least I’m not ashamed of that fact.
Someday I reckon I might be proud too.