This I Believe

Olivia - St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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Words Hurt as Long as You Let Them

I believe that I am different and have been designed with a purpose. I believe that commonalities between people should be just enough, not too much and not too little. I know that everyone in their lives has been hurt by words, especially as a child, but I believe words hurt as long as you let them. Hurtful words don’t always have to be marked by hurt. I believe that the things children are taunted about can be embraced and glorified later in life.

In first grade, I was riding the school bus. At that time I had begun wearing my hair in small twists. I liked wearing my hair that way. As an African American girl, most of my peers wore their hair straightened or in braids, so wearing my hair “natural”, and in a different style made me a target. As many of us know from experience, standing out as child often makes one an object of ridicule. As I was on the bus talking with my friends, someone shouted out “DON’T LOOK AT HER! SHE’S MEDUSA! SHE’LL TURN YA TO STONE! DON’T AT HER EYES; SHE’LL TURN YA TO STONE!” Angered and embarrassed, I replied with a harsh, “Shut up!” To which the teaser attempted to get me trouble for. I turned back around in my seat angry and hurt as their words echoed in my mind. I remember coming home and telling my mother what had happened and hearing her cover my scars with her soothing balm of reassurance, reminding me of my beauty and uniqueness. Going to school the next day was no problem because I knew who I was.

Years later in my freshman year of high school, we were making masks in art class. Our instructor encouraged us to think outside the box and do something different, something unique. Immediately a light bulb went on and I began to construct my masterpiece, a reflection of myself; Medusa. For me, Medusa was a symbol of originality, of something different and maybe even shocking, yet a precious creature unmatched by any other that has walked this earth.

I believe that it is possible to let go and turn away from the memories that hurtful words have accompanied. But I also believe that it is possible to embrace these words and redefine them with a positive meaning that can be carried on to make future memories. I believe in embracing the Medusa in all of us and showing her off to the world without care or hesitation. I believe that if the world looks into my eyes and turns to stone, it is not my hideousness that does so; but rather my overwhelming originality and lack of conformity that stops them in their tracks.