One day I came home and I wasn’t a happy camper at all. That day somebody had made fun of me in school and I felt small, ugly and misunderstood. I was too tall and way too thin. I looked like a spider, with long limbs that I would grow into a few years later. A few kids had made fun of me that day, they had laughed about me and it hurt.
I was so upset. I can still see myself standing there in our kitchen, rambling on about what had happened in school, with tears in my eyes, because I didn’t feel pretty enough. I didn’t want to be taller than the other girls; I wanted to be popular and pretty. Why was life so unfair?
My Grandmother just listened and then she told me she would help me, if that would be all I wanted from life. I didn’t understand. She gave me a piece of paper, a pen and some cookies. She asked me to sit down and then she said, “Now you write down what you would like to read on your tombstone one day, after a long life”. If all you want from life is to be pretty, then that’s what you write down.
What a stupid idea that was. I knew what I wanted?
I sat there for the longest time, ate my cookies and thought about my future. I thought about what I wanted to be later on as an adult. Lots of words came to my mind and were scratched out. The final result -after hours of thinking- had nothing to do with being pretty, or with being popular. I gave her the paper and it said:
She was smart, witty and a good friend.
My Grandmother looked at me, “Well, then stop worrying about your looks and start working on who you want to be.” I never forgot that.
Now in my early 50’s I look back at my life and I wonder about the person I once thought I was. I can see a young kid, a teenager and a young woman way back there. All of them seem strangely familiar, but are strangers to me at the same time.
Was that me? What was I thinking?
Why didn’t I do this or that differently? I questioned many things in my past and then one day it hit me. Today is tomorrows past and the worries of today won’t matter tomorrow.
In just a few years I will look back and laugh out loud, when I will try to understand the woman I am today.
You know everything about me, inside-out, up and down and across. But you don’t really know me at all and you never will. I don’t even know myself.