Running, bathroom buddies, and soup

In fifth grade, I hadn’t quite gotten the whole “social tact” thing down. I was loud, incredibly obnoxious, childish, and dorky. Underneath all that baby fat (and yes, I did have a bit of that, which didn’t do wonders for my self-esteem), however, I was just a little girl longing to be loved and accepted by her peers. So, what did I do? I joined a running program.

Reread that last sentence. Some people are natural athletes, and others aren’t. I fall into the latter category. Aerobic activity has always been a real challenge for me, and a real point of low self-esteem. Somehow, though, ten-year old me thought joining the running program would make me popular. Guess what happened during our practice 5K? I thought I was doing really well, until I showed up at the finish line–the very last one. And guess who was the only one cheering for me? The teacher.

You have not experienced such humiliation until you have shown up dead last at a practice 5K. Guys, always cheer loudly for the last person. Just do it, okay?  We slow ones need encouragement, too.

 I’m not sure if this was the same day, or maybe our next meet, but I was quite down on myself–more than usual. I stood in front of the mirror, looking myself over. Everything looked wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I always felt so ugly. I must have muttered something under my breath, because my bathroom buddy (elementary schoolers had to have these everywhere, and they usually weren’t your buddy) looked at me a little confused, and asked me what I had said. In a casual manner, I viciously insulted myself and my appearance. That’s what it had become for me–casual. Just an everyday thing. I genuinely thought I was ugly; I believed that lie as much as I believed I was in fifth grade. Well, this girl didn’t think so.

“Don’t talk like that. One day, you’re going to be drop-dead gorgeous.”

The girl’s words brought me a sense of complete comfort and peace. It was like warm soup poured over my little heart; I lapped up every drop. Even after I’d finished it all, the taste remained in my mouth. I hadn’t experienced having anything like that said to me before. None of my other peers saw my potential to be gorgeous, and if they did, they certainly didn’t do a spectacular job of letting me know. This girl–this bathroom buddy–lifted my heart in ways she will never know.

That’s the power of a simple statement. Sometimes little things like that go so much farther than we could ever imagine them to go.

 

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