I was that Ugly, Awkward 5th Grade Girl

When I was in fifth grade, I was the tallest person in my grade—and had been since kindergarten. I cut my hair short in the Dorothy Hamill (one of my idols and Olympic figure skater from the 70’s) style which was all the rage way back then. But my unruly cow licks made my short hair look like two, blond parenthesis framing my forehead. And I was one of the very few girls that had to wear a bra—yep, that started in third grade. Did I mention zits?

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So, when my teacher, Sister Josie, a short Hispanic nun in a white habit whom really didn’t like me, assigned us a short story to write and act out in front of the entire class, I was terrified. My worst fear had come true—my gangly, over-developed, pimply body would be on display. At first, I decided that I would contract some awful disease and not be able to recite my story. But I didn’t want to get too sick. I was on the basketball team, and we had game that week. Plus, I didn’t think I could fool my mom.

After several days of putting it off and trying to figure out how to get out of the whole thing, I just started writing. And I fell in love. OMG. I had been boy crazy and thought I knew what love was. But this was so much more. I fell in love with my character and the story and the way I wanted to share it with my classmates. I wrote and edited and wrote some more. I felt alive like I never had before. I practiced and practiced and practiced until I’d memorized every line and every gesture.

And then the day came when I stood up and delivered my tale of a fuzzy brown bear that felt all alone in the world but came to realize he had a special power to heal people and as he healed more people his power got stronger until it literally lifted him up into the sky, and he began to fly. With this super power, he could help more people all over the world. He was never alone again. He was a hero.

I was so in the moment that I didn’t care if no one liked it. I loved it. I loved everything about it, and I loved how I felt delivering it. I had the time of my life giving that performance. And as I finished with a Superman pose as if to take flight, I heard loud clapping even from Sister. Josie. I came back from whatever zone I’d been in and felt like I really belonged and that they liked me—all of me. Classmates asked me to perform it several more times over the next few days. That’s when I knew that I had to write. I had to share stories that made people feel uplifted and that they could have super powers too.

My self-esteem skyrocketed for the rest of that school year. And even though I struggled with (and still do at times) my body image, I knew that I was okay just being me. And that my biggest fear was my biggest teacher.

As for writing, my thoughts stuck to the pages of many diaries without ever seeing the light of day. Until a little over a year ago, I couldn’t resist any longer. And I wrote and wrote and wrote some more. Then I shared it. And the loudest applause came from deep inside my heart. My soul was lifted, and I’ll never let it land again.

What’s your super power?

Waters Rise, my first novel, is available on Amazon. Thanks for reading and helping me reach my dream!