Via Erica Leibrandt for Elephant Journal
Scene: I am in the hall outside the seventh grade lunch room. I can hear the voices of my peers shrieking with laughter, smell the unique combination of pheromones, tater tots, bleach and erasers which is exclusive to middle schools.
I retrieve the brown paper bag containing my lunch from under my sweaty gym uniform in the bottom of my locker, sniff it, sigh and balance it on top of the stack of books in my arms.
I stare down at my shoes. I hate them. They are not Tretorns. Nothing I wear has the right label or the right fit. I slap my locker door shut and start my death march to the cafeteria. Inside my stomach, acid churns.
I clamp my clammy hand around the lunchroom door, heave it open and…
How many rooms in my life have I entered like this?
Despising myself, terrified, letting fear, panic and self hatred stifle me like heavy woolen blankets. Too many to count.
At some point during high school I said, enough. I am not going to be the shrinking violet anymore, slouching in the corner, trying to squeeze my six foot frame down into invisibility.