15 June 2015
All my life, I’ve struggled with my own self-image. I’ve been told time and again I’m unimportant. People scoff, saying I’m naïve in my hopes and beliefs, especially when I see the best in people.
As a little girl, I looked on everyone as a potential friend. I opened my heart and hugged hello’s, welcoming people into my life if they wanted to take part. Some did, and I treasured them. Many did not; instead, a large group targeted me for my sensitivity. They ridiculed and harassed with contradictions.
Every young girl experiences doubts about their looks, and my classmates dredged up every insecurity until I believed myself hideous and unlovable. Worse, I questioned my intelligence and worth, despite evidence to the contrary. My poor mother worked to combat my negative feelings. I hadn’t many friends, because believing myself worthless, I found no reason for others to like me. In a way, the bullies won for a while. Cowed, I kept my nose in literature and away from the society of my peers.
That is, until I peeked up from the books and found myself no longer as affected by their hurtful words and actions. I found role models. To name but a few, Sara Crewe, Dickon, Lucy Pevensie, Anne Shirley, Nancy Drew, Jane Eyre, Jo March, and comic book heroes became friends from whom I drew strength. I shook my head when a small-minded person threw vocal barbs. I pitied those who felt the need to tear me down when I only wanted to get along.
As time progressed, I forged some wonderful friendships and took chances in my personal life. Lately, though, I find myself back in a place where again my wisdom is questioned daily, my thoughts dismissed. My beauty has fled, and I struggle through sleep-deprivation and worries to find the right words. When I look into my heart, I question my competence as the result of outside influences and my own insecurities. I curl around myself like an armadillo, hoping to protect my delicate, vulnerable underside, and allow my tears to wash my wounded psyche.
My early rescuers were young people, heroes from loved volumes. Although in some ways I remain a child, I now reach for the wisdom of older protagonists to help me through this self-effacing patch. My heart cries out to Jean Valjean, Molly Weasley, Dr. Watson, and Minerva McGonagall. (Yes, I note the irony that two of those mentioned are from a children’s series, but I love them and their examples.) I need Ms. Marple’s moxie, Elizabeth Bennet’s biting wit, and Atticus Finch’s compassionate intelligence. I hope by their friendship I might borrow some of their might and buoy up my own.
I close this letter so that I might discover how the brave Charlie Gordon fares, though I fear he mayn’t have a happy outcome. Although I suppose not everyone finds happily ever after in this life, I will remain nervously hopeful.
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