“You’re a potato, Aviva”, she said. “Most people are eggs; when you drop them, they break. You’re not like them. You’re like a potato; you can fall, but you don’t break.” I was eight years old at the time and sitting across the table from my elementary school guidance counselor – a seat I already knew well. I spent a lot of time through elementary and middle school in the guidance counselor’s office. I think I needed it. Among all the preteen hatred, I needed to be understood by someone. As I grew, playground teasing turned into real bullying. At the time, I thought manifesting my pain in clothes was the solution. It wasn’t. It was more of a reason to be rejected for thinking, feeling, looking, and being different.
It took me until college to realize I had been living a lie. I am not a potato; I am an apple. On the outside I look clean, shiny, and new, but on the inside, just below the surface, there are bruises. I have always been different and outspoken, but taking chances often led to more rejection. They told me I’m not big enough, smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, or I’m just not the right fit. Each “no” takes an unnoticeably small toll, but after years of hearing “you’re not enough” – the bruises start to show. I wonder will I ever be good enough? Do I have what it takes?
It wasn’t teen angst, it wasn’t just a phase; it was something I felt and still feel every day. Learning to accept myself and allow my true colors to shine is sometimes the hardest part. I just want to know someone believes in me. I want to know my faith in myself isn’t a lost cause. But self-worth can’t be based on verbalized praises from others. Rejection is my greatest insecurity, but it is also the motivation that drives me forward. I’ve learned that by following my heart, I will find my way and prove myself.
I can’t be confided to someone else’s idea of who I need to be. My experiences have led me to always choose the road less traveled – maybe because I am used to walking alone. I have a burning curiosity to discover, create, and overcome challenge. At the end of the day, we all want to be accepted for who we are – the good and the bad. No one is going to tell me I am good enough until I defy the odds. And that is just what I intend to keep doing.