I have always been a fair little girl, whether or not I otherwise appear to have grown into a young woman. Although “submissive” was not a word included in the dictionary of my personality (I was, and still am very open, loud, and overly, even inappropriately comical), I still felt afraid of my surroundings: the people and places that made me feel unbearably uncomfortable and unwelcome, like a myotonic goat, powerlessly falling over because of its crippling tendency to buckle its knees when confronted by fear, or an ostrich frightfully burying its head into the dirt. Such a trait, most likely enthused by my early discomfort found in fighting my inability to be on amiable terms with my albinism and those that refuted it consistently, drew me towards big cats. Lions and tigers, as I had read and seen on various television programs and movies, chose their territory, they didn’t allow it to choose them. I craved such environmental dominance and fearlessness, to be so unafraid of taking charge and determining where I stood on the food chain. But the one big cat that aided me the most significantly in taking steps towards my acceptance, and eventual pride of my appearances, as well as gaining the ability to be unafraid of atmospheric discomfort, was a lion that I could relate to more than any human being that I had ever come across; his name was Kimba, the white lion.
Kimba was the protagonist of a very early cartoon that had originally aired years before I was born. But the reruns that I dragged myself out of bed early in the morning to watch drew to the character, though not solely because of the physical disposition we shared; not only were we both strikingly fair (he was the only white lion in his pack as I was the only albino among my friends and family), but the both of us were teased relentlessly by our peers. Watching Kimba in his social struggles made me feel less alone in my fight against oppressive antagonists. But Kimba was something that I was not: although he had difficulty in promoting his appearance as a positive quality, he was able to find pride in what made him different. He was only minimally affected by social negation, and in the end, his ability to accept his appearance and hinder it from affecting the paths he chose earned him ultimate happiness and acceptance and a position of leadership among his peers who looked up to his optimism. What kept me emotionally afloat against my growing propensity to retract myself from society was the inspiration I drew from Kimba’s story. When faced with hardship, in nearly any form, I would repeat to myself internally, “I am a white lion.” It became my mantra, and I still occasionally use it today. And as embarrassingly ridiculous as it sounds, its effectiveness in galvanizing my willingness to look beyond social discomfort and mockery has kept me from becoming the ostrich or goat that I always feared I was destined to be. When faced with intimidating situations, I don’t buckle my knees or bow my head. I remember Kimba and his pride, perseverance, and positivity. I remember that to be proud of one’s beauty is more beautiful than the beauty itself. But most importantly, I remember that I am only as brave and in control of how I take charge of my life as the lion, tiger, antelope, goat, elephant, or ostrich that I choose to be. And I am a white lion.
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