Remember when you were really little, maybe 7 or so? C’mon, you aren’t that old! You were sure of lots of stuff, your favorite colors, your favorite animal, your exact age, what you wanted to be when you grew up, how many times you’d been to Disneyland, or saw a certain movie or went someplace cool?                                                           

Now you can’t really pinpoint when exactly you started to back up, to retreat, to shrug. If someone asked you how you felt about something you probably hesitated, maybe you said you didn’t know although you did or even lied to get that person to move on. You no longer tell your secrets, your ideas or your likes or dislikes. Suddenly the world seems less safe and you wonder if the person you are talking to will like you if you have an opinion.

When I was seven or so I told everyone my family didn’t believe in God, that my father was an English professor and my mother was an architect. I said they both went to Harvard, that I had lived in London, that my favorite crayon was midnight blue and my favorite ice cream flavor was butter brickle. I owned my space. I beat boys at prison dodge, I raised my hand and asked hard questions and I read poetry aloud to anyone willing to listen.                                   

But after middle school, everything changed. I worried about how people felt about me and about what they were saying. There was no Face book back then but there were things called slam books. A slam book was a notebook with someone’s name on each page and people would write what they thought about that person on that page. If you were popular those comments tended to be flattering and kind, at worst, neutral. But if people disliked you they said terrible things and other people read them and, you get the picture.                                                                                                           

One day I decided I didn’t care about any of these judgments and I refused to be controlled or dominated by mean people. I did what I wanted. I wrote for the underground paper.  I was in a really corny musical and I played on the first girl’s soccer team. I took all these activities seriously and made friends with a people from every clique in the school.                                                                                                                        

Start owning your ground, your space, and your patch of earth. Try different stuff and write about it. Take some risks that remove you from your comfort zone and see how that feels. Write about it. Make a list of five things you have never tried-                       

          1) Learning a new dance

            2) Sitting with an entirely different group at lunch

            3) Making friends with someone completely different from you

            4) Going somewhere in your neighborhood you have never been and…


            Most of us get labeled when we are still babies. We are easy, fussy, funny, quiet and those labels stick. As we grow older we have the power to peel those labels off and become someone completely different, someone amazing, someone powerful and real. We become ourselves. Surprise someone! And write about it!

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