Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who feels the pain of being in two worlds at one time. I remember thinking when I was in my twenties that finding a job with dyed green hair wouldn’t be easy-so I got a job as a barista, long before Starbucks surfaced. When I started teaching middle school, I learned how to balance my school persona with my “real” self, and although the green hair was gone, the green haired girl wasn’t. When I tell this story today most people don’t believe me. I’ve been wildly successful at wearing my teacher hat and keeping that other girl quiet when I’m at work. But those who know me well often get a glimpse at her- she surfaces when I see injustice, discrimination and sexism and has a hard time shutting herself up
But at least I don’t forget her. I remember her when I look into someone’s eyes that I’m trying to understand. I remember how much I wanted to have someone understand me, to think about the girl inside me who didn’t want to be ‘normal’. I think about all the masks women wear every day, and all the back stories that lurk behind our lashes. Green-haired girl is there, reminding me not to judge, not to assume, not to for a moment presume guilt before assuming innocence.
My quirky side pays off when I find myself in situations where I’m the “other”. Green-hair girl can show her courage and surprise me with her fortitude. She can connect with the unconnected, and sometimes even know the right thing to say when someone- usually a teen- needs it most.
Being normal, for me, is feeling like I’ve got both slices of myself at odds, and my fingers in too many things at one time. It’s normal to be juggling teaching and mothering and marriage and self, and not sure which one is going to take control. Being normal, today, is remembering that girl, the one who lingers inside, and letting her out once in awhile.
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