Pulling Together the Pieces
I’m writing this not because my story is special - but because it’s all too familiar. Almost everything I share is in the hopes that it helps others to open up or feel less alone. Please reach out to me if you’re struggling and share this if it resonates.
When I flip through my childhood photographs the little girl with golden curls and brown-black eyes is nearly unrecognizable. Glossy prints of her wearing red leather jackets, thrifted rainbow sweaters and striking a pose in a spider costume slip through my fingers. A weathered trunk back home is crammed with bizarre art projects and stories about giant yellow canaries and rope made of lavender. Somewhere along the way, that little girl was reduced to what remains now – someone afraid of herself.
Whether it was catty comments from middle school friends or mass media drilled into my head shame began to shape how I moved through the world. My surroundings encroached on me and sanded down the aspects of my identity that stuck out. Fragments of myself slowly slipped away.
The girl in those photographs became compartmentalized because it was easier to fit in than feel alone. I contorted to squeeze into spaces and cherry-picked which version of myself would be accepted. At first, it was uncomfortable, but over time my identity was fluid. I became whatever people expected of me.
On social media, I was the party girl who went out three nights a week and had a close-knit group of girlfriends. In Newhouse classes, I was the aspiring journalist who diligently worked towards a dynamic career. In political science lectures, I was the loud-mouthed activist with an opinion on almost everything. At magazine photoshoots, I was the makeup and fashion fanatic with the latest trend on-hand. At the gym, I was the fitness freak who lifted weights among brawny boys.
Chances to pick up the pieces passed by, but I kicked them under the rug. Relationships crumbled under me as secrets and self-doubt bubbled to the surface. Anger rose in my throat when professors and friends reduced me to a one-sided figure. But I had perforated my edges before others came in to tear me into the size that suited them.
Loneliness led to sleepless nights spent awake wondering why I was so unlovable. A thick shroud of insecurity hovered over my head. It felt stitched to my shoulders.
So, long story (sort of) short, that’s why I’m making this blog.
I’m taking a sledgehammer to the shell of isolation I’ve built. Hopefully, I can show others that the confines constructed around you don’t have to be your castle. A lot of people probably won’t like parts, or any of it. Some messages I’ve received still send twinges down my spine. I don’t expect to move forward with rose-toned glasses shielding my vision – but hope I can build the strength to stop breaking myself down.
In 20 years, when I dust off faded childhood photos I want to be proud of the woman I’ve become.