Recognizing Myself

Photo of a tree on water at sunset. Sky and reflection have purple undertones

When I was in 6th grade, I really wanted to be selected to be our elementary school’s representative to the 7th grade leadership class. I worked so hard all year and when graduation came along, I sat up in anticipation, only to hear Amy G’s name called as the 6th grade representative to junior high leadership.

I have always wanted to be (seen as) a leader.

I have always wanted to be seen.

I decided to avoid leadership until my junior year of high school. Then I tried again. I ran for a senior class office.

I lost again.

Growing up (in a predominantly white suburban community), I wanted to be a cool kid. I wanted to be seen as something more than a stereotype.

I was never the cool kid.

I was always the smart girl (and eventually the valedictorian who lost her mom).

I want(ed) to belong.

I want(ed) to be seen.

I want(ed) to be valued for the things I value(d) about myself.

Many beautiful and good things (have) happen(ed) (even) in a state of invisibility.

Many people love(d) me in spite of myself.

I thought if I accomplish(ed) more, maybe then I would (will) be a cool kid. Maybe then I would (will) be seen.

I have accomplished many things.

I decided I could not wait for things to come to me.

I took unconventional paths. They were not easy. I created ways when there were none.

I did things in spite of what should have been possible.

I am proud of myself.

But 12 year old me, and 16 year old me, and so many parts of me, still are afraid that I will not be seen, that I am not good enough, that because I am not one of the cool kids, I am not anything.

These parts feel these things most when my heart wants something bigger than I know myself to be.

If I play small, if I stay safe, I will not get hurt.

Thankfully, there are people who see me, who remind me that I am not 12, that I am not 16, that I am a leader, that I am enough, even when I am grieving, even when I am scared, whether or not I get the big things I want.

They see me and that allows me to peek at myself.

I will try again.

For them, and for me, and for the me who is still waiting to be chosen.

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