I had always felt like I did not fit back in the formative lands of public education. I was made fun of for the clothes I wore. I was awkward. It was very very painful for me, and I remember feeling like the most ugly and unappealing being in the place. It is a visceral feeling, that experience. To not fit. To know other people don't think you're good enough. For someone like me, it cultivated a kind of desperation, that still echos today. I remember a group of girls sitting around me, trying to make me over. My hair, my face, my clothes. And the whole time I loved the attention and simultaneously knew my family couldn't afford to do any of the things they suggested. So I was just stuck. Being ugly. I know this sounds silly now, but I can honestly say it did me damage.
I know many many people who felt this way for a variety of reasons. And it affected us all in different ways. Permanently I'd argue. I see you all, and I'm sorry you went through that. No one deserves to feel that way. No one. It's hard to forget realizing for the first time that you are different and that the world isn't friendly to the ones who dare to be themselves. Or even to the ones that it just takes a little longer to find their own voice.
I myself didn't fit into one box, and I didn't feel brave enough to own who I was. Granted. I didn't know who I was either.
So, then, I arrived at high school. I traipsed into the art room. I remember my art teacher letting me go into the cupboard to get some glitter. The diamond dust kind. The white, silky, sparkly goodness that is glitter. That I still love and will never stop loving.
The important part of this pivotal point in my life was how comfortable I felt going into that cupboard, and I can remember my teacher telling me to feel free to get anything I needed from it. Whenever I wanted. I was hooked, and I spent most of my days in that room.
Somehow that autonomy was the beginning of finding my voice and liking who I was. Because in the art room people are kinder because they realize they are worth something. That the process is art, not just the shiny clean thing. The messy part that isn't perfect. That is why I teach art. And why I fight for people to rise above the noise.
And so, it was in that room that I gained the name Pixie. It was a pure part of me, and still is I think, something that is the most true aspect of who I am while I exist here. On this planet. I listened to Tom Petty and Jethro Tull on my pink walkman without apology, wore jeans and clogs and went on adventures to the ocean. I had glitter fights. I loved my friends. Deeply. It was a good moment in my personal history.
The first day I met Rudo in college a few years later, she told me "the woods here are enchanted." I believed her. And so our friendship blossomed and we are still friends today. I've drawn her many times over the years, and above is the most recent iteration.
I share it in the midst of my own self absolution, a time when I finally am fully self aware. And I wasn't quite before. For years I did not trust myself at all. I deferred. I figured most other people knew more than me. And I suffered because of it.
I also blossomed and grew, and had glimpses of light, but I doubted my name. And I questioned who I was. A few friends from high school and college always called me Pixie. Sometimes I wondered if that was who I was anymore. I was in a lot of pain and my past and my upbringing made me question everything. And for awhile I decided that the Pixie had to die.
I regret this. And I am trying to come to terms with its significance. It makes me sad that I couldn't bear to see myself anymore. I just wanted to feel like I was doing something right, and it seemed up until that point that I had failed. The days of high school and college were gone. I had no money. No real home. No family structure. And no vision. I just got pulled along. Because I had no idea what to do.
I found structure in a good person. And that person led me down a more solid path.
On that path I shed pixie slowly, and found different parts of myself I didn't know existed. In a way it was essential. I am grateful for the things I learned. I got a job that could support me. I found something I could do to both make money and help other people. And be creative. I'm a stronger more self sufficient person.
But along the way I realized something was missing. And suddenly I heard people calling me Pixie as if it was for the first time. That maybe I had made a mistake rejecting the parts of myself that I may argue were the most important.
The things that make that name what it is are the belief that the woods are enchanted. That liking glitter is OK. That my tattoo is beautiful even if people look down on it. And that loving people unconditionally is of value. That means through everything. That means without judgement. That means meeting them where they are and being kind.
The things that make that name what it is are having pure joy and appreciation for things that are beautiful. And listening. And being compassionate. Sometimes being that vulnerable makes me feel weak. Easily attacked and unsafe. I have found being in the world difficult and maybe being that person felt wrong. Silly. I wouldn't be taken seriously.
The truth is, in so many ways I was still that person. But I laughed at it as if it was just a joke. Not who I truly was. Not unapologetically. I thought I was just silly and needed to face the real world.
This started wearing on me, because its not really who I am.
Now, in the aftermath of walking away from everything I thought I knew, I crawl, fairly destroyed back to myself. And my name. Only I'm wiser. And older. And the world looks darker than it ever did. I look ahead into the future and I still hold fast to something good.
This reflection is dedicated to the people who always called me Pixie and didn't let me forget.
But mostly to me, for being smart enough to admit when I am wrong.
I just wish I didn't do it quite this way. It just feels sometimes as if the world rejects me. And I've tried to fit myself into it.
The answer I think, is rejecting the shape it requires of me. Creating my own space that fits me best, and not caring what the world thinks.
And that is my story of being myself.
No one asked me for advice. But if you did, I would say screw the world.
It asks too much of us to be synthetic versions of ourselves.
Call yourself by your own name, and never be ashamed of it.
I am pixie. I am tired. And most of all.
I am sorry.
And, in case you were wondering. Those woods?
They were enchanted. And still are.