I’m not much of a writer but someone inspired me to do a Mytake. I had no clue what to write about until I read through some others. Someone asked about why people pretend to be someone else online. Well grab a bag of chips and your favorite drink because I’m going to share my story.
About 8 years ago I was the quiet girl in the 8th grade. I wasn’t smart or brilliant in any type of way. Debate teams and academic clubs were the furthest thing from my mind. I was clumsy and uncoordinated, so sports weren’t an option. My breasts hadn’t developed, and my acne hadn’t cleared up, so I was overlooked for the prettier girls. There wasn’t much that excited me but dolphins.
Yes. I said it. Till’ this day I am obsessed with dolphins. They’re my favorite animal. Back then I spent most of my time reading books about marine life and dolphins. In, fact I was often sent to the office for reading these books while I was supposed to be working on class work. Kids laughed at me when it happened. I mean come on. Who gets sent to the office for reading about dolphins?
That pretty much sums up my middle school life. I was the quiet girl with a weird dolphin obsession. I laugh as I type this because I even had a dolphin backpack. My mother got it for me for my first day in middle school and I loved it. Anyway. Things didn’t change until I met Jessica Towers.
Often, I would get picked on for being the weird quiet girl. Reading my books usually made me feel better. But it got to the point where I would sneak away to the restrooms during lunch to read my books. I remember wishing how I could just be a dolphin part of a school of other dolphins. Things seemed easier and more peaceful for dolphins.
One day while I was reading one of the girls snatched my book from me. It was before the period bell, so I wasn’t expecting it. The kids always left me alone when the teachers were around. But I hadn’t noticed the teacher wasn’t in the room. She snatched it and started looking through the pages. I had always been bullied but this memory is still so vivid.
She laughed at me telling me I should know everything about dolphins since I read about them so much. I thought I was going to make her look dumb by telling her, “Well that’s stupid and impossible. Scientists are discovering new things about marine life every day. How can I know something if it hasn’t been discovered genius?”
I felt so smart when I said it. I was proud to know that because I did know a lot about dolphins. But there was so much more to learn. I imagine that’s how a ballet feels when sticks her first twirl or how an athlete scored the winning point. I got this sense of confidence when I said that. But they all laughed at me. Almost every single kid in that classroom laughed at me.
It crushed me. It was like a huge part of me had been spat on. I had never felt so isolated and humiliated. I kept looking around wondering if the teacher would come and stop it.
“Do you even have friends?”
Silence. It felt so heavy and loud. Everyone was looking at me when she asked. I didn’t have any friends. Not one. Unless you wanted to include family. All I wanted to do was read my book. When I reached for it she held it away from me and repeated herself.
“Of course, I do, and she’ll kick your ass when she finds out you messed with me today!”
I shouted it without thinking. But when I heard the kids whoo and suddenly turn against her, I felt safe. I felt like I wasn’t alone. She looked back at me, laughing and telling me to tell her who my friend was. That’s when Jessica Towers was born. I told everyone that the reason why I was so quiet was because my best friend was way cooler and more mature than any of them. That she was a high school freshman at an advanced school across town. I even added that she was a cheerleader. The teacher finally came back and that’s when my tormenter gave me back my book and walked away.
So, then I had another problem. Jessica Towers. Not only did I accidentally start a rumor that she was going to beat up Angela (we’re calling her Angela) but I also created a person that seemed to get everyone’s attention.
What school does she go to? You know a cheerleader? Is she coming to fight Angie today? What’s her Facebook?
Oh well I can’t just tell you where she goes. You’ll stalk her. Something came up, but trust me she’s coming to see Angie. I can’t give you her Facebook,
Angela got braver, as the time passed, and people started thinking I was lying. This was back when Facebook was starting to get popular. I went online and made her an account under a fake email then I looked everywhere online for a picture. I didn’t want one that was easy to find or hard to believe. So I thought it would be smart to use a picture of a girl who wasn’t from America.
Jessica Towers was a 16-year-old from Scotland. She had long and curly hair that went to her back and her face was acne free. Her breasts were bigger than most girls my age at the time and something about her picture just made me feel charmed. We all know those people who just have those faces that put us at ease. Coincidentally she was a cheerleader, so it was easy for me to keep up the story I made.
It turns out that getting Facebook friends was easy when you’re a cute girl. After Jessica’s profile was made, she got friend requests fast. Back to back. This worked in my favor because it made her seem more genuine. After she had over one hundred followers, she sent Angela a message. The gist of it was back off or get a black eye. Angela left me alone after that.
When I thought it was over, it had just started. Jessica started getting requests from people I knew. People who never spoke or even looked at me. In little less than a month she had over 500 friends. Lucy (me) only had around 80 friends who were mostly family and cousins. But Jessica got requests from guys ranging from middle school age to my grandfather’s age. I accepted them all. I never felt that kind of attention before and the things kids I knew were saying to Jessica shocked me.
They were nice to her and wanted to know her. They even complimented ME in order to get to her. Kids that had either made fun of me or never spoke to me, claimed that I was their friend and that we talked all of the time. When I was at school kids suddenly started treating me better. Some even asked me about dolphins. Before I knew it I was getting warped into this fantasy I had created.
I’d go home every day excited to be Jessica. I even had her write messages to me and comment on my wall. It really felt like I had a best friend. I even had her take up for me when mean guys from school asked her out.
“No. You’re too short. No you’re not buff enough. I only date older guys.”
It felt amazing. Through Jessica I was living this life where everyone loved me and never made fun of me. And through Jessica I lived another life where she was my best friend who never talked bad about me and loved dolphins as much as I did. But I will admit, it also made me feel empty knowing she wasn’t real and that I still didn’t have any real friends.
Jessica Towers got a lot of messages from guys. She’d talk to them but never started anything that wasn’t platonic. That was a boundary I never crossed. For the most part she was meant to be a means to an end. On impulse I came up with this character to escape from my bully’s tormenting. But I kept her going because I liked knowing what it was like not to be the quiet weird kid.
Towards the beginning of summer and the end of middle school, I had Jessica Towers move away to another state. I told my parents that I wanted to go to a different school for high school. They don’t know about Jessica. But I needed a fresh start. Once summer break started I deleted her account and promised myself I’d make real friends in high school.
So there you have it. Inside the mind of a ex-catfish. I didn’t do it for love or to scam anyone. No act of vengeance or troll account. I was a 14-year-old girl who had no friends. All I wanted was to be left alone so I could read my books. But kids can be mean. Sure, looking back now I could have hit her in the face or ignore her. But back then that’s not how I thought. I was small and I felt vulnerable.
I’m not saying this is every catfish’s story but I’m willing to be that most of them are hurting somewhere deep inside. Some are bad. But I believe most are running from something the way I was.