1. A person who keeps someone or something safe; a protector.
A Safeguarder named Shame.
Chapter 1 - A Promise of Forever
The show must go on. That's the number one thing the teacher said to remember. And, as I climbed on the creaky stage, I recited that until my shaking body obeyed. Although my feet created a horrible slabbing noise on the floor, the noise was covered by a few encouraging cheers. I joined my classmates on the stage, my heart beat in anticipation. A swift melody calmed the pulse yet ignited it at the same time. Gaudy lights shined on the audience and the performers. A sudden beat dropped and I twirled as if the music had me wrapped around its finger like a beautiful ring. A promise. My eyes nervously glanced at the dancer besides me, and I flicked my arms accordingly. I was now standing right in front of the audience. A pink light graced the audience and shown on me. I bathed in it like an energy drink. My whole body shook like a fizzy drink about to explode. And my heart did just that and soared as I spun. My hands were sweaty and red. And the chubby arms waved messily. But it was okay. The audience was smiling...I was smiling. When the music finally stopped we hit a pose. We staying like that for a moment as the audience roared and clapped. The noise erupted and caused my breath to shake and my lips to twitch into a wide grin. I felt like a statue of a hero being admired by the city.
The lights slowed down and stopped functioning. They were robots that had reached their limit. The audience was suddenly hidden by nothing. Or a lack of something...
Chapter 2 - A Human Chain
After my primary school show which celebrated my leaving. I moved to high school, a new stage (pun intended) in my life.
I felt uncomfortable. It was another one of our dance classes, but this had never bothered me before - in fact, I thrived in it. Until now.
My classmates surrounded me. The new teacher had instructed us to get into our places. We were a human chain. Except, I was too tall. It threw the rest of the chain off balance. If you were to move the chain, the big metal (me) would cause an earthquake that would disrupt the rest of the chain.
My eyes snapped to the teacher. She had clapped her hands and music was blasting out of the speaker. I hadn't realised the music had started. She began moving in demonstration, and everyone followed. One human chain. I looked at the full-screen mirror that had crawled and attached itself onto an entire wall. The mirror reminded me of a movie in a cinema displayed on a massive screen. The person beside me coughed and I jumped. Everyone was dancing and I wasn't. I tried to keep up but I was horribly entranced by the mirror. It showed my reflection in gory detail: my acne - infested face and swollen face and body. I quickly glanced away. I was unaware of the audience I had attracted. I looked back at the mirror for some reason - and I saw her. Shame looked back at me in the mirror. She had taken a seat and was watching me. The music skipped and so did my body, so did the screen. I gave a swift glance to the other students. No one else had seen her...
I rushed out of the classroom as soon as the bell rang.
I didn't expect to see her again. The first time had been too rough and raw. I had no idea that she would soon become my safeguarder.
When the lockdown was announced, I started seeing Shame more often. I glimpsed her in the mirror and at first, Shame was only there for my dance shows, but then she started appearing backstage. At first, she didn't say anything, just made me glance away from embarrassment. I saw Shame when I brushed my hair, washed my red face or simply glimpsed the mirror. We had formed a bond which at the time, I didn't register was toxic. We had become so close. At some point along the way, she had become my safeguarder. I'm not sure how it got so out of control. It started small. She said it was okay if I stay indoors, isolated, even when the lockdown ended. Shame wasn't anything physical for me. It was a feeling that kept me rooted to the spot. It was a feeling of wanting to disappear. I saw Shame in my eyes. In my frown.
Suddenly, I felt like I was doing the wrong performance. Somehow, I was trying to perform an invisibility act than a dance.
I knew I needed to flip the screen and switch my act.
So I started dancing again. I had neglected it for a while. I danced to a mixture of music. Some had lots of beats that my body attempted to catch and play with. Others were more swift like the music in my primary school performance. The performance...My dance had been messy and so unprofessional. Then, I remembered the other dancers, their happy smiles. My grinning face. Cheers flooded my heart until it was hard to breathe. The audience hadn't turned up for our expertise. All those families, friends and teachers had shown up for our happiness. The ultimate experience.
With that realisation, I started focusing purely on happiness. Nothing else. The first few times, I had got caught. I had been enjoying myself too much to notice. I twirled and when I did my eyes flashed and saw Shame in the mirror.
She kept making an appearance for the first few weeks. Until other audience members had started turning up. It turns out some of the members had always been there but where hidden. Happiness had been seated behind Shame, hidden in its shadow. Love had taken Shame's seat, forcing Shame to leave the metaphorical building - my mind. Shame had warned Excitement against coming. Curiosity hadn't shown up before because it was too scared of Shame. Now, I have been experimenting more with different moves. With these new members - emotions - I have something else to focus on. I still struggle with seeing myself.
So my new year's resolution is to film a video of me dancing. Every single day. I've been doing it for 25 days so far (as I'm writing this) and it has helped. I enjoy seeing my favourite member, Happiness, appear. It makes everything worth it. It makes me enjoy seeing myself. When you're happy, you're beautiful. Life shines in year eyes like precious stars that appear in the night. I've shown a few family members who are now also regulars. I'm hoping by the end of the year all the tickets have sold out so there won't be any seats left for Shame.
Chapter 3 - The Future
For me, Shame was only a mental state, a feeling. But for you, it may be physical people in your life. I referred to Shame as ''she'' because shame is something I created. She represented me. Shame was my Safeguarder because Shame seemed like it was protecting me. From embarrassment, being laughed at, hate. And it did, in a way. But it also shielded me from things such as friends, family, love, happiness etc. This year for me, and maybe for you, is about letting go of the safeguarder named shame. We often don't fulfil our passions, hobbies and dreams because of Shame.
2021 is about pursuing our dreams. We're all leaving 2020 behind and focusing on our goals that we were too scared to do before. This year is about happiness.