From Nadia Colburn’s 31+ Day Meditation and Writing Course, Day 21: Write about some way you have felt different or you feel different and how that can be seen as a strength, perhaps something you didn’t see before as a strength.


When I was young, I wasn’t cool or cute or sought after.
I wasn’t thin or dimpled or flirty
or the girl every boy wanted to date.

I couldn’t sing or play an instrument or draw or paint or master a sport. In fact,
I had no hidden talent,
Unless you count the ability to read books
for hours on end and imagine being swallowed up inside them.

I was the brainy chubby girl with the awful short-haired perm
and the knee-length plaid jumper
fighting zits and anxiety
and loneliness
hidden so well behind a smile in a junior high filled with

Cool Chicks whose mothers taught them
how to put on makeup
They followed beauty tips from Cosmo,
rolled their long blond hair on orange juice cans,
And wore mini-skirts above shapely legs
While mine went unshaven.

My brilliant campaign to change my image,
To fit a square peg into a round world
included losing myself
and my despised idiosyncrasies
within a myriad of drugs and pints of alcohol.

By high school, I was the stoned out girl with
the long brown hair and torn hip-hugger bell-bottom jeans,
shod in men’s laced-up work boots,
brains successfully hidden under a large floppy hat
skipping school in a field all day
and kissing boys who didn’t love me.

I had blurred my peculiarities and quieted my confusion
in a fog of pot smoke and hallucinogens. I was saturated in avoidance.

I finally solved the problem of
tests and classrooms, anxiety and peer groups,
people asking about future plans I had no courage to achieve
by dropping out two weeks before I turned sixteen.

To face a world outside school that was just as scary.

That was 50 years ago. I want to go back and hug that girl
fold her in my wrinkled arms and tell her
to embrace her differences
to read her books
to put down the joint and
pick up a pen.

To discover her own voice.

I want to look into her confused and vacant eyes
and convince her that someday
everything will be alright.

That in a few short years,
she’ll have a child to pour her love into,
earn an English degree,
meet a man who adores curvy brunette eggheads,
find a satisfying writing career.

And when her son has been raised,
her husband has died,
and she has retired,
she’ll be 66 and alone again.

But not lonely this time.

She’ll still be immersed in books
But now, pen in hand, she has her own story to tell
Having eventually discovered that
her idiosyncrasies
are simply what makes her unique.

I long to tell that girl all these things,
And save her some pain
But without the pain, she’ll never become
the woman she’s meant to be.


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