A poem narrating one perspective of what it’s like to be ‘the filler’ – someone who believes they merely take up space, despite how much they try to escape the confines of the role.
the morning sunshine peaks through the classroom window; her seat is warm, and her head is faced forward. situated in the center of the classroom, her seat is an enclosed island surrounded by the chatter engulfing the room. her eyes are glued to her chromebook screen, a distraction from her classmates sharing the latest gossip and their weekend plans. her bored fingers tap the desk, over and over, the click-clack rhythm drowning out all other noise. she counts one, two, and then twenty-three tabs on her laptop, until the bell rings, the projector lights up, and class begins. the hallways are a labyrinth. cliques storm the halls, and couples form blockades. she approaches her two friends, absorbed in conversation. she laughs, but they do not hear. she cracks a joke, but it is ignored. she grips her backpack tight, replaying her insecurities in an infinite loop, her head falling to the ground. stop!, she suddenly yells (to her surprise), hear me, hear my voice! yet the silence of her suppressed cries echoes into the hallway chatter. her mind is void, filled with nothing but the tranquil feeling of isolation. she stops in the hallway, but her friends continue ahead, and she slowly slowly slowly shrinks into herself– a caterpillar stuck in her cocoon, with nothing but the cold familiarity of her thoughts. an inevitable cycle of home, sleep, and school swipes the ideal high school experience from her grasp, the best four, they would call it, confirmed to be flawed. savor every moment, they would say; you’ll never get back the last four years before adulthood. but she knew– she knew high school would be the profound chasm that would swallow her spirit, her voice stolen and her head tilted down. junior year peaks out of the shadows. college, extracurriculars, and internships circulate through everyone’s minds. competitiveness surpasses friendship, toxicity surfacing with even the closest of friendships. academic status becomes the forefront of conversation–– and she witnesses it all, from her seat basking in the warmth of the morning sunlight. time is fleeting, but for her, it is ceaseless, and with every tedious day, she relives the anxiety, the overthinking, the loneliness; the constant ringing in the hollowness of her seat. but no one would ever know, that she is present and listening and at most desires the chance to be heard. her delusional gaze is directed to her chromebook screen, and her head is faced forward, as she counts each and every tab one by one.
My piece was partially inspired by my own experiences. Last year, exiting the isolation of the pandemic while simultaneously entering my very first year of high school, my anxiety was skyrocketing; I desperately wanted to leave the best impression on my classmates and make the most of my high school experience. Now, currently midway through sophomore year, I’ve realized that doing so only led to an abundance of nights spent overthinking my every little move. Writing this piece, I unlocked memories I hoped to keep tucked away, but I also discovered my own fears, as well: the fear of being ignored, the fear of junior year, and mostly, the fear of isolation. Though the piece doesn’t entirely encapsulate my experiences and perspective, I definitely see myself in the protagonist.
From the beginning of this piece, I encountered serious writer’s block. I’d go days simply pondering on what my next piece should be about. Initially, I wanted to write about something lighthearted and warm, but when no ideas surfaced, I dug out my freshman-year journal buried in my closet and reread a couple of the entries for inspiration. And as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard, I just typed.
During the Friday Night Salon: Fill Your Sugar Jar & Nurture Your Creativity with Yasmine Cheyenne, I recalled Yasmine saying that when you’re in the mood to write, take advantage of that time – which is exactly what I did! I wrote the first draft of this piece in about two sittings, and when I finished, I was proud of myself, especially for writing in a genre in which I have little experience.
Navya Vasireddy is super excited to participate in the Girls Write Now program! She loves to write about and share her experiences as an Indian American, especially given the lack of representation in the media. Through the program, Navya hopes to explore different genres and craft her voice, as well as convey her story through her work.