We were always coloring. Painting. Making play-doh masterpieces. The smell of the art room summarizes a large portion of my childhood. It is where I started and ended my elementary days. My mother’s desk served many purposes for my brother and I; it was an after-school vending machine, a storage place for hidden treasure found on the school grounds, even a hiding place for when I was sick and needed a place to privately cry about how I wouldn’t get the perfect attendance certificate at the end of year now.
My mother was the art teacher, my art teacher. But not for long. They chose me to take some test and I answered a bunch of questions right involving patterns and shapes. I remember while I was taking the test thinking that I was getting all the answers wrong. And then one day they whisked me out of class and grouped me with the other kids who multiple-choice-guessed all the answers correctly.
We left our regular class to go to another class where we created art and figured out puzzles and riddles and puns. I never felt like I should have been in that class, but I was keenly aware that my classmates were the smartest kids in my grade, and I didn’t want to risk not being a part of that group.
She has so much potential.
My mother drove me every Saturday 40 minutes to a gym with more advanced instructors, equipment, and gymnasts. On the way to the try-out I recall feeling anxious that I would let my parents down. I knew it was expensive and out of the way. But the other gym said this is what I needed. At the beginning, I did really well. I loved it. The instructors suggested I move up a level and add weekday classes. I wanted to without a doubt. My parents decided that was too much of a commitment. And then, rather abruptly, I became afraid.
A back walkover on the high beam suddenly became scary. A spot for a back handspring became necessary.
So much potential.
That is how I landed partial scholarships for running. Not because of my amazingly fast times in high school (I didn’t have any, honestly). My future coaches believed in me more than I know how to believe in myself. They saw something, the same thing the art test and the gymnastics instructors saw, and believed they could crack open the potential out of the bottle and let it flow.
I stop it from cultivating. And the reason is simply that my potential requires a lofty amount of positive coaxing and nurturing.
I take myself only so far, and then I begin to question my own confidence and abilities. Unless someone is there to catch this imminent fall, I stop believing. And become stagnant. And never reach said potential.
This is exactly the same for staying healthy. I need so much reassurance that I’m doing what I need to be doing but I usually only hear things like, “wow, you look great” when I am totally engrossed in eating disorder behavior and have lost 10 pounds. They’re not looking at my eyes, they’re looking at my stomach, and I revel in the compliment and forget for a moment, that I previously wanted to drop dead from being so tired and miserable.
It’s not normal for people to comment on a women’s body if it is unchanging or growing. The latter frightens me. I walk by colleagues and friends and they haven’t said anything, so that must mean they think I’m getting fat. They are obviously thinking I must have forgotten where the gym is located.
Potential < Validation
I am forever searching for validation in all areas of my life from everyone that I know.
If nothing changes, I will live my entire life like this. I want my potential to finally be released into the world and not remain stuck aging, and collecting dust in the darkest corner of a wine cellar.
I want to add all 120 Crayola colors back into my life.