This Is Me

You’re about to enter a room full of strangers, where you will have exactly four minutes to tell a story that would convey who you really are. What’s your story?


 

I, like I am sure many of you, am the type of person who flounders when the conversation switches to anything along the lines of ‘tell me about yourself’. In brief, every exciting moment of my life seems to vanish the second someone questions me about it. Years could pass by since I last saw a person, and the instant the question ‘what’s new with you’ comes into the conversation I would still undoubtedly respond with ‘nothing’.

Throw me in a room full of strangers where I am forced to tell my story in four minutes, and you might as well have thrown me to the proverbial wolves. I will choke. It’s my nature.

If I’m given time to prepare, the results might be a bit different. After some prep, the story I would weave in my four minute time span would be one of growth.

“I have never been known as a positive person,” I would say to the masses. A deep breath would follow, as I amped myself up for the rest of my speech. “In fact, more often than not, people choose to comment on my dark soul or heart. Friends have even called me an ice queen, because I have a tendency to shut people out with what seems like little to no regard. That’s not really me.”

My eyes would be cast to the side, unwilling to face the people I am about to bare my soul to. “In fact, telling you about me isn’t something I’m prone to do. I may not cry as freely as those around me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel. Maybe I’ve avoided talking to a friend a time or two, but that has nothing to do with a disinterest in them. It’s all a mechanism of fear. Hiding how I feel is my mode of operation; it’s how I’ve learned to survive. The thick skin I’ve created is a wall, because only I can decide who is let in.”

As I continue, my story would include snippets of who I was and how far I’ve come. It would hold anecdotes about how I’m still growing and learning every day. The end would be a reflection of the beginning, as I state: “And it’s only when a person begins to see those little things about me, that they realize I’m not as dark as they once thought.”

~J. Spade

 

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Secondhand

Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life.


As the youngest child I spent a lot of my time dealing with hand-me-downs. Toys, books, clothes, and even sports seemed to belong to someone else before it came to me. At the time it really annoyed me. I was the only girl amongst my parents children, it didn’t make sense to me how my mother kept happening across used clothing for girls that were conveniently in my size. Of course, I had plenty of older cousins that helped out with her endeavor to keep me clothed in articles that were well past the point of worn.

Being as young as I was I just didn’t understand. Why did my brothers receive new things when I never did? Was it because my parents loved them more than me? Questions filled my brain and stuck in my mind, making me more confused than I had any right to be. Then one day all of that washed away. All pieces of hand-me-downs that were given to me were not merely objects that had previous owners, they had been cared for and loved in such a way that shouldn’t be looked down upon. The objects had lived, had stories of their own. That was beautiful, that was new, and the fact that I could create my own stories to go right along with the previous ones was an incredible feeling.

Once I had realized that, I ended up being happy with the things that I had. I was able to appreciate the value of them, and even to this day I still admire the quality of life found in hand-me-downs. That’s part of the reason I donate the stuff that I have outgrown, because maybe, just maybe, someone will have a place for that material in their own life.

 

~J. Spade