without labels, there are no walls – free to create and discover

through pain i learned to transform.  high school was painful for me, as it may have been for many of you.  i was hiding behind the labels of ‘shy’, ‘nerd’, ‘different’.  books were my closest friends.  my family moved from the midwest to new york just before my junior year in high school, to a community where people were judged by what they wear and what cars they drive… at least that’s what i thought.

you see, so much of my experience is based on the perceptions that exist within my own mind.  as a person labeled ‘shy’, i entered this new setting feeling judged and out of place.  if i wasn’t going to make the first step to say ‘hello’, then all those people around me must be thinking i’m not worth talking to…they must not like what i’m wearing, or how i look.  i was stuck in my own head.

life happens and prepares me for growth.  as i found myself alone, i found comfort with my books and perhaps this move prepared me for my admission to college, who knows for sure.  what i do know is that during those painful years of high school, i had time to reflect, and in those times of reflection, i learned a lot about myself and others.  while painful, those years in many ways were a blessing.

when i left for college, i made a conscious decision, a conscious choice, to step out of my label of ‘shy’.  i didn’t want to spend the rest of my life afraid to speak up, afraid to be wrong, afraid to try new things.  so when my mom dropped me at my dorm – literally dropped me…she didn’t even get out of the car for fear she might have to talk to some stranger – i was on my own, without labels, ready to be the person i wanted to be.  i remember feeling like that butterfly breaking out of the cocoon she had so carefully created for herself and hidden inside for so many years.

i stepped out from behind all labels, and began the journey of discovering and creating the person i was to be, and not the person i thought i was.  no longer trapped within a shell, i opened my wings, and took the leap.  i’ve fallen lots along the way, but it sure has been worth it.  there’s an astounding world out there, and i could have missed had i stayed stuck in my own head.

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