Yesterday, I was a girl with two white socks and no self-esteem. I was the girl who wrote in secret, dreamed of tomorrow, and obsessively chased Perfection. Never second best, I pushed too hard to be a top student, a musical prodigy, a prima ballerina.
Which brings me to - what is perfect? As quickly as white socks faded to pink tights, I was faced with a new obsession: The Perfect Body. With every skipped meal and misplaced pound, I jumped higher and glided smoother. Ribs began to protrude from tight-fitting leotards, but I only pinched my underweight stomach with disappointment, assured that it would be just One More Pound. Boys gaped at my lanky legs and playfully toyed with my growing vulnerability, but I saw them only as distractions.
Though the destination remained unclear, the horizon was brilliantly lit with the reds of a glorious sunset that I vowed someday to claim. But the closer I got to the vanishing sun, the more obviously the splendor faded out of Technicolor. Blacks painted my pain; whites, the hospital walls. The rest was shaded in gray, and once-defined lines blurred. My paintings withered to become only distorted mirror reflections, and I almost drowned in an endless sea of bones and pointe shoes.
And then, as gradually as it had gone, the light filtered back in. Slowly at first, creeping with shared ice cream cones and midnight phone calls, then it bounded with accomplished Mozart concertos and passionate kisses under a blanket of stars.
Eventually, pink ribbons were unlaced after a final pirouette and treadmills retreated to the basement. Hands invaded my desolate tunnel of isolation and, though I walked out on my own bare feet, I cannot say I walked alone. The light seized food logs and hospital beds, infectiously and undeniably ruining the life I had been resigned to follow until it, too, yielded to the infinite darkness of death. It had no shape and certainly no color, and though I hear it goes by many names, for now I shall simply call it a pure shade of Faith.
Yesterday, I was a girl with two white socks and no self-esteem. I no longer fit that constricting mold. White socks are One Size Fits All, and pink tights are too far from it. I am not the prima ballerina, nor am I perfect.
I am a burning passion with ideals and limits. I try and sometimes fail, I love and sometimes am hurt, I believe and sometimes fall. I think, I speak, I feel from the powers of a well-developed mind; no brainwashing society can capture and cage me. And I am beautiful.
Yesterday, I was a girl with two white socks and no self-esteem. Today, I am a woman with mismatched rainbow socks and independence. My baggage comes with a passport and, for better or worse, I cannot be confined to Perfection. I move forward with nothing but two new socks and the unanswerable question of what my feet will wear tomorrow.
*Teen Ink '04 London Writing Experience Participant
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.