“You’re the ugly, cool one.”
My feet hit the sun warmed stretchy leather and shot me straight up as my heart dropped straight out the bottom of my feet.
“Well, you know, you’re the kind of girl that guys like being friends with because you’re cool. But just not pretty. It’s not a big deal.”
We were facing each other on my oversized trampoline. He went up, I went down. I went up, he went down.
Ultimately that day, I went down.
He was one of my close friends boyfriends.
She was pretty.
She was cute
and kind of quiet, with an amazing laugh when she let it out.
He announced these words to me when she went inside to go to the bathroom.
I can’t recall asking or even wondering, much less wanting to hear that kind of harsh reality.
I didn’t respond much, and instead silently endured a first, very certain kind of heartbreak.
Not from a lover, or even a friend, but from an acquaintance who might as well have been a stranger – from a nobody who’s made themselves an immediate somebody “looking in.”
That outsiders perspective is terrifying…
… because … what if everyone could see that truth?
What if I could never really be loved?
(There are a thousand beautiful things about youth, but overflowing confidence isn’t usually one of them.
For me, it certainly wasn’t.)
After he (and my friend) left, I went to my room and laid on the floor.
I rolled over to the stacks of books and “Highlights” magazines sitting on my floor that my mom made sure were always in eye shot.
The book on top was “14 Women Who Changed the World,” complete with black and white photographs and their stories.
I cracked the book open and read a few.
The pain eased a little bit.
Little did I know then, these women were paving the way to show me who I really am at my core — a woman who can choose to change the world with her daily actions.
I don’t recall the rest of that day.
I was 14 at the time and getting ready to go into high school.
That next year as a freshman, I wrote “U R FAT” on the inside of my hand everyday in math class, but I wrote it backwards so no one could read what it said.
“TAF R U” in black ink, everyday for months.
This was a reminder to eat less and do something about the seemingly unfortunate way that I looked.
I joined volleyball, basketball and track.
I started on each team.
I bled, I sweat, I ached and I rose.
I was relentless.
I felt alive. Fully, and completely, ALIVE.
By the end of the year, I was in great shape and had lost all of my “baby fat.”
My grades were nearly perfect and I was voted “most likely to succeed” by my peers for the yearbook.
I identified less with caring about being the “pretty one” and more with being strong and driven.
I didn’t join athletics to lose weight, but I did as a side effect of playing my heart out.
I didn’t suddenly have date invites from the hottest guys in school, but I did have confidence.
I did have health.
I did have drive.
I did have… myself.
The dichotomy of life is that we are simultaneous beings.
We are simultaneously THIS and THAT.
We exist in the light & the dark.
The salty and the sweet.
The intensely passionate and the completely peaceful.
We can transcend above this – into complete non-attachment (spoken about in many cultures and religions), but attaining this is a practice.
A practice that we can be in devoted PRACTICE TO while SIMULTANEOUSLY living and experiencing the dichotomies of reality.
We practice by observing more and more that our emotions, our thoughts, our desires do NOT control us. In fact, they aren’t US.
They are simply fabrications from our minds and programming from society / culture.
It is simple. Not always easy, but most certainly simple.
Pema Chodron remarks in one of her books, “Take a moment and imagine yourself above the clouds looking down. The storm is real. It is there. But you are not the storm. Rise above it.”
(This is paraphrased:)
Today, I wonder how your life is calling you to “rise above” the storm?
What are the gifts in the challenge?
When you settle into the stillness, what’s there for you?
Is there a past pain that’s ready to be released so you can be ALL here?
We’re in this together.
I love you,