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Reading More Than Books

by Stephen Izzo about a month ago in college

Freshman year of college

There is no logic to me judging or analyzing besides it being an instinctive defense technique. I judge because how I’m perceived by others is one thing that I always think about. My own overthinking is my greatest weakness and I combat it by being the first to “strike”. Now I could always take the easy route and blame my judgemental nature on my parents and say that everything toxic about myself is their fault. However, it’s not their fault. It’s my own.

I think I remember when I first began to judge others. My family and I just moved to Phoenix, AZ from Chandler, SC. About 4 months prior while we were moving states we were in a big car accident on the interstate. We were in a four door 2000 Saturn LS, packed to the brim with all of our stuff. I was in the backseat with my little brother in his carseat on my left. My father was driving while my pregnant mother and older sister sat in the front seats with him. I remember waking up from a nap to my mom smacking my dad on the shoulder and asking him, “Do you see it?!” I saw the fear on her face and the determination on my father's. Then, a blackout.

Maybe it’s the cause of me forgetting, or maybe the impact was too much for eight year old Stephen. I blinked my eyes, awaking from my blackout, and then looked down at my clothes. I was covered in blood. I was confused and eager to find out where all of this blood came from. I looked to my left to check and see if my little brother was okay. However, I couldn’t see him because one of our body pillows had fallen over his face (I later found out that he was fine). I became worried and then looked forward to examine everyone who was in the front. My eyes looked at my father first and they noticed a tiny cut on the back of his ear.

“No way all this blood came from that!” I thought to myself as I scanned over from my father to my mother and sister. They both seemed fine and had no signs of blood on them at all. “Where did it come from?” I thought.

Right after this thought ran through my head a drop of blood fell from my forehead and landed on my lap. Without thinking I placed my hand on my forehead and pulled it back into view. It was painted with blood. A tsunami of emotions washed over me; the most prominent of all being fear of death. I began to cry because I couldn’t think of anything else I could do. I was helpless and I felt like my life was already over. My crying got the attention of my sister who then screamed a blood curtling screech making me cry harder. My mother and father turned around and looked at me with wide eyes. My dad opened his door immediately afterwards and within seconds swung mine open and pulled me out.

He held me in his arms and all I could ask was, “Am I gonna die?!”

He reassured me saying, “No! You’re gonna be okay. It’s not that bad.” I knew he was lying. All of the blood confirmed it for me. Eventually a crowd formed around us. I was scared and I remember feeling like I was a dying bull on display for the world to see.

Long story short, I received 15 stitches and a nasty scar on my forehead that I still have to this day. I’m telling you this because it was the start of me being self conscious and my defensive nature. I was scared of being judged because I felt ugly and broken. I didn’t want to be a conversation piece, but I always felt like I was.

School became a stage. A circus act where I was the clown. I started to develop hate towards people who I never even talked to. I was tormented by my own deluded thoughts of myself that I believed everyone pointed out immediately.

I remember the first day of 6th grade. It was a cold and dark morning which was the sign of a storm and it gave me an excuse to hide under my black hoodie. I had just gotten a haircut, and when I say haircut I mean I was shaved almost bald. This was a huge deal to me because of this beacon I had resting on my forehead. Walking through the gates of my elementary school felt like a slow motion scene. Each step I took the worse my tunnel vision became. I pulled the strings on my hoodie to tighten the only defense I had from a bombardment of comments and questions.

My defense worked for the most part until I got into the classroom. The lights inside the room made me squint and want to hide even more. The fluorescent spotlight of the classroom set the stage for me to remove my shield. Right when I started thinking, “Maybe I don’t need school, I can survive without it.”

My teacher asked me to please remove my hoodie. I thought to myself, “This is it. This is where I die.” as I slowly pulled my only cover away from my head. I felt the eyes of everyone in class look at me and I even heard some kids giggle.

I felt a lump growing in my throat as eyes examined my head. At that exact moment I had a surge of rage and clearance. So instead of crying and hiding I decided that I would find their biggest faults while they were all focused on my biggest physical fault.

I began focusing more on ways I could make peers cry with words or non-harmful actions. Lets just say I got into a lot of fights because of my decision, but I loved knowing that I had completed my goal of knowing how to get under others skin. I knew what button would make them laugh, cry, or hate me. For example, I focused on my classmates’ physical aspects rather than psychological. This later changed, I now focus more on psychological because it cuts deeper. This always worked whenever someone really pissed me off as my offense and defense. It was a very rewarding feeling.

Reading people is something that I’d like to say I’m very literate in and if you give me enough information I’ll eventually put two and two together. I have lost a few friends because of this defensive “hobby” of mine. I have also lost contact with family members because they get the worst analyses out of everyone. I don’t want you to read this story and think, “Wow this guy is an asshole.” Even though it may be true, all I want you to gain from this story is that some people, most people, think they’re more complicated than they really are.


Stephen Izzo

I like to write.

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Stephen Izzo
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