Sometimes I'm not sure who I am. I can look back and see who I was. Where I've grown. And where I faltered. Hindsight truly is the gift of the wise. I can look back and see what everyone else saw. But what I can't do is see what everyone else sees.
Every morning, I dress up. I play the part of a mature, educated, confident woman. But when I look in the mirror, all I see are the freckles.
Who am I?
I know that I am a collection of all the things I have done, all the places I have been and all the experiences I carry with me, but the answer, the true answer alludes me. Like I'm chasing a shadow, watching it turn a corner far ahead. And when I get to that point, the shadow is even farther away.
I've always been a rare form of shy. Life and education have taught me a golden message, to know when to keep my mouth shut. And for the most part, I oblige. If I speak up, I have a reason. A good reason. And typically, I don't back down. But I've found most people don't care for my level of persistence, so I fight back once and pretend to drop it. For me, I can't really drop it, but for everyone else involved they can consider it dropped [usually].
Does that make me forceful? Does that make me appear to be a pushover or a threat? I don't know. For me, I feel dedication and passion. But when combined with my quietness, does it appear as brash and snotty?
I've come to the decision that I think I'm cute. Visually speaking. Small frame, little nose, slightly above average height [for a girl], on paper, I know that should add up to an attractive person. But I don't know that I see it. Growing up, I was told I was smart, but never told I was pretty. I was kind of dorky. It's been something I've struggled with. Despite my years in retail, fashion never came easily to me, nor did hair and make-up. My mom drove a cherry-picker and is now a CDL tester. (Commercial Driver's License, in case you were wondering). So there has never been a 'womanly' woman in my life. I did what I could to get by.
I didn't grow up in 'the hood,' or in any type of terrible situation where I questioned where my next meal would come from or wonder when I would see clean water. It was nothing like that. But I can look back and see that I did live a hard life at an early age. My childhood was stolen from me in multiple ways, creating a broken, confused, insecure teen who grew into an equally-confused, insecure woman.
The problem is, the freckles faded [mostly], the awkwardness has subsided and hopefully, the transformation (forgive the gagworthness) to a swan is complete.
Except, I feel like a fraud.
To many, I'm 'that girl whose MIL has cancer.' And although that has been the majority of my life recently, it's just the tip of the iceberg of who I really am.
In school, I was 'that crazy woman's daughter.' (from the teachers) and 'the handicapped girls sister.' (from the students) And laughably 'that girl in choir who sings off-key and too loudly.' (yes, I was told that.)
I don't know who I am. Somewhere between the then and the now, I feel like I lost me. That part of me changed while others didn't, creating this confusing, off-putting person. I try to look and act confident, but I'm not. I see awkward. I feel pain. I am confused.
On paper, I'm well-educated, dedicated, creative, loved and organized. But inside, I feel none of that.
Do I want to be the timid 12-year old who lacked confidence to such a degree that she hunched her shoulders, begging the world to ignore her? No. Of course not. But she's there, with me. Still scared, still confused. Hurt by the careless comments.
But I created this facade, and maybe I'm the only one who can't see it. But if that's true, is there anyone who can see the little girl inside me? Because she stares at me in the mirror every day.