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It's Just Fine

For the first eleven years of my life, I was a straight up tomboy. Until about fifth grade, I could easily pass for a boy. And that suited me just fine!I had a few girl friends, but most of my buddies were boys.I spent most of the school day with them, laughing and arm wrestling. After school, I hung out with my neighbors, Matthew and Jakey. I played basketball, went skateboarding, and once I beat up another neighbor, David, for borrowing my Ripstick without asking.My mother occasionally reprimanded me about my clothing choices, since all my stuff was from the boys section in Old Navy, but it went in one ear and out the other.I had a good life.

Then, I entered middle school, expecting everything to be the same. But it wasn't. The boys there weren't as nice and didn't seem to want to be friends with a girl. In P.E the girls were expected to get out of the way when the boys were playing basketball, my favorite sport. And for a few months I was miserable. Then, I discovered some of the upsides of middle school. I made friends with two really nice girls, Alexia and Marie, who didn't talk endlessly about clothes and make up. I made friends with a couple of boys, Jojo and Nathan who were funny and didn't mind being friends with a girl. I joined the basketball team. I thought everything was settled.

But then it started shifting again. For the first time in my life, I had a crush on a boy. Until that point, boys had just been friends to me, but now I was " a normal teenage girl" (according to my mother) who actually LIKED one of them. As I was dealing with the confusion of having a crush for the first time, I received invitation to THREE Bat Mitzvahs and a sports banquet. My mother told me it was time to buy a dress. Grumbling, I sat slumped in the car as we drove to Ross while my mother tried to reassure, saying it was only for a few months and by summer the dress wouldn't even fit. My mother perused the racks while I stood sulking, then whisked me off to the changing rooms.
I expected to hate them all, and I deplored the first three I tried, feeling uncomfortable and awkward. But then, as I slipped the fourth over my tangle of curls, I felt different. I looked into the mirror and instead of seeing a gangly girl looking miserable, I saw another side of me. I looked tall, pretty, and shockingly, feminine. It was almost scary.
In that moment, I realized that maybe it was acceptable to feel this way. Liking a boy didn't make me superficial and obsessive, as I had always assumed. Feeling pretty in a dress didn't make me a loathed girly-girl. I was allowed to play with the boys in P.E, and I was allowed to wear a dress to a Bat Mitzvah. It didn't make me any less ME. It didn't change me.
It's not wrong for me to like a boy. It's not bad for me to wear a dress. It's just fine.

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