Rae is beyond socially awkward.
Since she was a little girl, Rae Swiggett knew something was different about her. The sound of planes flying overhead could spark a panic attack. Being called on in class was enough to push her over the edge. She feared the unknown, life, death, people . . . even fear itself.
By the time she reached ninth grade, Rae was muddling through life in relative silence, convinced everyone was mocking her, judging her, picking her apart, bit by little bit. Rae knew she couldn't keep going on this way. She knew something had to give.
'It's a game of catch-22 I constantly play with myself. If I keep acting normal, I hope one day I will be, but every time I try, I just let myself down. I'm so entirely sick of this game.'
Because Truth Is More Fascinating Than Fiction
About the Author
Chelsea Rae Swiggett is eighteen years old and will soon be heading to college to major in English and immerse herself even further into the world of books and writing. She currently serves on the Ypulse Youth Advisory Board. Visit her blog at http://thepageflipper.blogspot.com/.
Read an Excerpt
THE CLICK OF MY VAN DOOR IS SIMILAR to the monotonous beeps of an alarm clock. You know how, after you've heard the same incessant noise day after dayalways with the same dreaded awakeningyou begin to cringe at the sound? That's what our van door, sliding open, does to me. It's the bugle of yet another school day.
Since I'm totally into mythology, I'll relate how I feel about school by referencing a well-known tale of a fellow named Sisyphus who, for doing something punishable to the gods, was forced to push an extremely heavy boulder up a hill day after day. Once he got to the top, the boulder would roll back down and he'd have to start all over again. School is my boulder. And I have no idea what I did to piss off Zeus.
I think it has less to do with school and more to do with the people occupying it. I'm, under no lesser terms, the opposite of a 'people person.' I'm a loner, and I like it that way. But humanity is kind of a nationwide epidemic, as any die-hard Buffy fan would quote, so I hobble myself down the sidewalk and into the glass doors of my high school.
I walk down the halls, watching my admittedly ugly tennis shoes clomp themselves over shiny tiles. I try to stay on one line as I make my way to my locker and on to homeroom. When I get to my seat and classes start, the evaluation begins. You know how people say you are your own toughest critic? It's totally true.
I zone out once the teacher starts talking, and the only thing I think about is how people view me. I check my breathing to make sure I can't be heard. I yank my shirt and pants so there's no way anyone can see an inch of me. I bite my lip and suffer through what I'm sure is just an assessment of how I look, cleverly disguised as 'Homeroom.'
Everything comes down to how I act, too. I know I'm quiet, but I'd rather go unnoticed than say something wrong and be insulted for it. Right now, I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting for my name to be called for attendance. Waiting, in dread, to speak out the word 'here.' When I quietly do, I wonder if I said it too silently or if my voice pitched awkwardly.
Everyone starts talking in whispers while the rest of the attendance is called. I hear everything I'd ever want to know about X's party or A's concert. People always talk like nobody's listening in. It's not like I eavesdrop on purpose, but if someone's having a conversation right next to a ghost, that poor ghost can't help but pick up a few disjointed words.
'The football game was . . .' 'I can't believe she . . .' 'Were you at . . .?'
Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to be someone else, like the girl two rows up and one seat over who had 'an awesome time' this weekend. If we somehow pulled a Freaky Friday with our minds, would life be easier? I'm not naive enough to think other people don't have problems . . . we all do. But I know it'd be nice to not care so much. To just let things go and be happy and carefree.
I made a promise to myself that this year, my freshman year in high school, would be different. I moved from my last school in Berea to get a fresh start here at Avon Lake. I was done being labeled 'mute,' and I thought with a new school I could make myself over and be a new, outgoing person. As it turns out, it doesn't matter what school I'm at; I'm still chronically shy. While everyone else is busy talking like normal teenagers, I'm doodling. It's pretty depressing when someone who can't even draw a basic stick figure is resorting to 'art' just to busy herself. There are lumps of mashed potatoes where my clouds are supposed to be.
The bell rings, and I'm five minutes closer to the end of the day. Welcome to my life.
©2010. Chelsea Rae Swigget. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Rae. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Going into this, I refused to let the fact that I know Chelsea sway my opinion on her book. If anything, I knew I was going to be harder on it, more nit-picky about things. I shouldn't have worried. Girl can write. Rae is rather like getting a phone call from your best friend. You get on the phone and she rants about her day, because she needs to get it off her chest. And you listen, because that's what a best friend does, and by the end of it you've forgotten that you were just doing your best friend duty and were actually waiting with bated breath to hear the end of the story. Sure, she gets off track sometimes, and backtracks, but it makes the story just as entertaining. I have to admit: books that aren't linear annoy the crap out of me. I mean, for fiction, I NEED things to be linear for a plot, so I give biographies like this a little leeway. But Chelsea had a tendency to jump back and forth between times, which made it a little hard for me to keep up. However, like I said, girl can write! The entire book was very well written - the quotability factor was skyrocketing through the roof - and her analogies were fantastic. I liked learning (more) about her as the book went on. The one thing I wish she had made more clear was, actually, her love of reading. Yes, I know she loves to read, and I know she's involved in the book blogging world, but she only mentions it once or twice - and then brings up that she met Kristi as part of the blogging world. You never mentioned you blog! *tear* But I think everybody can relate to what she went through, at least on some level. Yes, what she had was extreme - which is why it makes such a good story. But she presents herself in such a way that everybody, on some level, is going to connect to her story.
My Rating: 4.5 Rae was a meaningful and moving memoir written by our very own blogger The Page Flipper. Chelsea's vulnerability and raw honesty was commendable. It takes a lot of guts to reveal hidden fears to others. There is always that chance that people might not accept you for who you are. I for one, respect and can somewhat relate with Chelsea. Over the years, I also struggled with anxiety and the fear of death. Like Chelsea, my imagination can somewhat be overactive and I tend to worry too much. Also in comparison, I'm also afraid of plane crashes, car accidents or anything that doesn't look safe. The part where I sympathized most within the story, was her social anxiety. So many teens and adults deal with emotional discomfort and fear while interacting with others. I believe now a days, this plays a huge role in bullying. I hate people who scrutinize individuals and make them feel insecure and worthless. Who are we to judge? This memoir has the ability to touch a lot of lives who suffer with the same phobias. The part where Chelsea mentioned her anxious feelings in class brought back so many memories for me. I despised participating in class and always made it my business to sit in the back. I always felt like people were observing my every imperfection, so I figured no one could see me besides the wall. To this day, I'm not really sure why I have these feelings, but I've learned to hide them very well. I appreciate Chelsea for opening her soul to readers. She's taught me that I am not alone and can have the strength to surpass my fears and live in the moment. Not only was there intense stories, her writing was also impeccable. She has great story-telling skills that will hopefully one day grace the pages of a YA fiction novel. Overall, I'm glad to have had the chance to understand Chelsea more as a person. I recommend this memoir to those who want to read a touching and enlightening book.