When I was in second grade, my friend Erica abruptly declared that she didn't want to be my friend. She turned her seat away from mine during art class. She hissed, "Ewwwwwwww" when I walked by. She wouldn't answer when I said, "Hi."
Just as abruptly as it started, it ended. One day, during band practice, she turned to me and said, "Do you want to come over to my house after school?" Just like that, we were friends again.
I know this is classic mean-girl behavior, a part of growing up female. Everyone has a story like this, or has done it to someone else. Possibly both.
But still, it haunts me. Not so much the Erica thing---I'm over that---but the idea that things can shift so quickly, so irreversibly. People wield terrible power, when you let them.
Sometimes I question if I let people in enough. I have a lot of friends, but I don't allow many to know my fears. I don't ever want them to see the little girl who sat alone in the school bus, biting her lip, willing the tears not to fall. I certainly don't want them to cause those tears.
I hide behind my own fences, so the arrows can't reach me.
I communicate electronically, and avoid phone calls. I say things like, "We have to get together," but I don't follow through. I twist my ring anxiously around strangers, and spend a lot of time examining the spinach dip at parties.
I don't think others perceive me like this. I think I come across as happy and together. But, like my shadow, my insecurity follows me. It steals my light. It prevents growth. It keeps me grounded, when I should be soaring. And, like my shadow, my insecurities often seem bigger than they really are.
It is an act of bravery for me to tear down the fences and banish the shadows. If somebody does not like me, my writing, my shoes, or my taste in music, so be it.
I need to take a breath, trust the wisdom of my thirty-five years, and move onward, and upward.