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A child told me yesterday that I was beautiful, and I changed the subject so quickly that I forgot to say thank you.
I went to class today and kept my Zoom video off, not wanting to watch my anxious self live.
A man complimented my smile at the grocery store tonight, causing my left foot to turn 180 degrees and almost snap while I attempted to hide all my teeth.
When I got to the checker, she picked up my coffee and asked me what my plans were for the evening, and I was unable to say anything audible.
You seem to worsen as I age.
I feel you everywhere these days—in class, the grocery store, at work.
You seem to grab ahold of my throat and cut off the necessary oxygen for me to speak.
I sweat through my clothes.
I fear saying the wrong thing.
I want to be liked but not be seen.
I wish my feet remained parallel, but they don’t.
They twist into a French braid as my right shoulder raises high under my ear.
I wish I could befriend you, but you make life hard.
I don’t know where you came from, but I’ve known you a long time.
I remember you in the 1st grade, middle school, and that freshman dance.
I remember you when I was a college student.
I remember you on all those therapy couches.
I remember you, but I also remember that we survived.
We still went to class.
We still gave that presentation.
We still went to graduate school, and we still said our name proudly.
We may throw up often, struggle to speak, and scribble all over things in an attempt to escape the moment, but we still show up and we do it well.
I may live with you my entire life, but together, we are going to keep moving forward. As I learn to love my personality, I’m also learning to have compassion for you.
If I see you at work tomorrow, I think I’ll just let you be rather than stuffing you away.
Maybe we can learn to work together.
Maybe this is all we ever needed to do.