I remember a distinct moment from my childhood, a moment of realizing that I was quite different from the other little girls. That moment was followed with a thought of “I never realized how many things were wrong with me”.
My skin was pale, my hair was red, my arms were long and gangly. I loved to read, was terrible at sports, and spent my afternoons in the backyard playing imagination games. I wish I were a blonde soccer player. I wish my skin were darker. My sisters and I wore hand-me-downs. We played the piano and ate whole wheat bread that mother baked herself. For vacations, we went on camping trips. I wish I could eat a wonder bread sandwich for lunch. I remember wearing pants because I despised my pale legs. I remember hating fancy events because I didn’t like the way my arms looked in dresses. I remember being terrified of gym class because I always seemed to be the worst at everything.
I wish I were like the other girls. It’s funny how things change, how the things that make us different become what we love most about ourselves.
Now, red hair is my favorite part of my appearance. My gangly arms pull me above rock walls and power me through ocean waves. I treasure my love for reading. My lack of athletic ability is something to laugh at.
All free moments in my mind are imagination games. Now, most of my clothes are hand-me-downs from strangers (thank you, goodwill). The piano is my greatest joy, and just like my mother, I bake my own bread. All my vacations are willingly camping trips. I never wear pants and love fancy events. I still hate the gym.
In that time, from then to now, I’ve realized that becoming who you want to be is not about changing yourself.
Becoming who you want to be starts with welcoming who you are.
Article & Photography by Madeline Long