Friday, November 25, 2016

On The Struggle to be More

Somewhere – floating around in this world – is a picture from my 11th birthday.
My friends and I were all crammed on the single set of monkey bars that were behind our row of townhouses. The paint was chipping off the red metal bar; the neighbors watched from their own adjoining backyards while we laughed. My Mom stood back in the grass under an overcast day while the ten of us scrambled to keep our gangly limbs from dropping to a tiny patch of concrete below.
Somewhere – floating around in this world – is a picture of a perfect moment. My perfect moment.
For as long as I can remember, there has been a tension inside of me between who I am and who I want to be. There has been a struggle, a battle, that I could never quite resolve. It was there when I was eleven years old and it was there for the twenty years that followed and it was there every day in between.
The struggle was there telling me that the person I was would never be as good as the person I wanted to be. The person I thought I should be.
I wanted to be popular. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be asked to prom. I wanted bigger boobs and I wanted smaller teeth. I wanted the boy that broke my heart to tell me he was sorry and I wanted the girl that tormented me to tell me she was wrong. I wanted long, luscious locks that didn’t have a mind of their own. I wanted to be a world-class athlete. I wanted to feel pretty. I wanted to be delicate and I wanted to wear pretty dresses. I wanted to eat chocolate without feeling guilty and I wanted to wear shorts without feeling ashamed. I wanted skin that didn’t have freckles and I wanted a laugh that was cute. I wanted to be able to sing and I wanted to soar. I wanted narrower hips and I wanted wider vocabulary. I wanted phone calls from friends and I wanted dates on Friday night.
I wanted to matter.
And I remember – during my 11th birthday – feeling that way for a little while. I remember it so very clearly. 
As friends joined to celebrate the day, as I ate cake with reckless abandon, as I thought about the year to come I forgot for a brief moment that any part of me was lacking.
Somewhere – floating around in this world – is a picture of me feeling that way.
This time of year always makes me feel nostalgic. A new year is just around the corner and for me, it has always felt like an opportunity for renewal. It is a time where I  hope for authenticity and a chance to try – one more time – at “getting it right”. My goal, as each year passed, was to lessen that gap between who I am and who I thought I needed be. I was convinced that the more “right” I became the less isolation I would feel.
If you had asked me – at this same time last year – if I still carried this desperation around with me. I would have said no. I would have told you that – with age – I had stopped even thinking about it and that I had indeed grown out of it. And honestly, I believed that to be true at the time.
But it’s been a tricky year for me. It’s been an even trickier last few months for me.
It’s been a year of letting people in and of letting people go. It’s been a year of feeling invisible yet being fully seen. It’s been a year of finding my own security and discovering other people’s lack of it. It’s been a year of healing old wounds and, of course, finding new cracks.
And all of it has made me realize that, perhaps, I wasn’t over it at all. I had simply found new measuring sticks with which to determine my worth; my skills as a parent, the words I wrote, the number of likes on Instagram, the number of Instagram followers I had.
Here's the thing…
They never added up. Which meant that – given the philosophy of life I had subjected myself to for so long – I never added up.
And it recently hit me. Like a bulldozer. Like ten thousand pounds of unbearable truth knocking the wind out of me all at once. And when a bulldozer hits you…the harsh reality is that you’re out of commission. You’re done. It’s over. There is nothing left to do but let yourself be crushed by what is real.

The reality is I'm just not one of the cool kids. I’m not a china doll that is easily dressed up and I’m not a handful of flawless features. But I am a great friend with age spots and ruthless hair. I am not the girl that all of the boys liked in school, but I am the girl that one boy loves for life. I am not an athlete that the world will remember but I am someone who one student will remember for changing their life. I’m not someone who pulls off red lipstick very well and sometimes my past hurts like hell. I don’t leave my impressions with my lips, I leave it with my heart and sometimes I leave it behind in pieces. I’m not the girl that stands out in a crowd for being pretty but I am the very definition of beauty for two little souls that see nothing but magic when I walk in a room. I’m not the girl with perfect legs but I am the girl who walks with purpose and love every single day. I’m not the girl with the most ‘likes’ or the most followers but I am the girl that will make you feel special and loved. I’m not necessarily the person that people notice but I am the person is on the right path.

As I enjoy these last few weeks before another year rolls around, the truth is, that all the things I've been struggling with won't be wrapped up with Christmas ornaments. I'm not sure I'll ever be done.  I'm determined to make things different - to be better - to be more. 
The biggest truth of all is that somewhere – floating around in this world – is a picture of me on my 11th birthday being the only thing I’ve ever needed to be

1 comment:

Dan Deveau said...

:) always keep moving forward