United States


Over the past year, I defeated a fear of other people, learned the value of clarity and brevity, fought writer's block, and developed pride in my words.

Now I am a writer with a love for onomatopoeias and an affinity for semicolons.

Message to Readers

This was hard to condense. Please let me know if anything needs work.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

The Butterfly

August 16, 2018

    When I was a baby, my pastor prophesized that I would be a butterfly. A beautiful metaphor, if you don't think about it too much. Butterflies are essential. They pollenate our world; bringing a small piece of their light everywhere they go, and in return picking up a piece of the world to take with them. However, butterflies are very fragile. And most importantly, they never stay in one place for long.
   I changed schools after first grade. I ran around and told everyone for a week, looking for a reaction other than an "oh" or "yeah, Olivia, I heard". Well, won't you miss me? My transfer to an elementary school 40 minutes away was unceremonious and uneventful. My first friend at my new school moved away a year later.
   I tried being friends with the other girls in my grade. They seemed nice, an I did my best to be the most likeable version of myself. Eventually they got tired of me. My family didn't have the money for brightly hued Justice clothes. I was a tad overweight, and didn't have a crush on any particular guy in our grade. I was dismissed, the only reason given was that I was "too nice". What the heck does that mean? I learned that butterflies are mostly ignored.
   My only close friends were at my church. We all went to different schools, but despite our clashing personalities were raised similarly, so we were all a family. They grounded me, and we were all each others' support system. I learned that butterflies are safer in groups.
   Otherwise, I started my fourth grade year alone.
   And then I met Duncan.
   I always had stories and fantasy worlds in my head, but Duncan brought a sense of plot, of conflict, into my formless ideas. I honestly attribute most of who I am as a writer today to our games together. We would weave between the trees in the schoolyard, saving the world from an evil fire queen one day, chasing after an interdimensional outlaw the next. Even when kids in lower grades started sending us judgmental looks from their games of handball, we didn't care. I had my best friend, and we were the kings of our own world. We were thrilled when we got into the same middle school. I was convinced that we would be friends forever.
   He changed.
   It wasn't noticeable at first. A mean comment here, a backhanded compliment there. But as time went on, my friend turned into my tormentor. We started our sixth grade year sitting at a table with other kids from our school, and we both made friends with people we had known but not been close to. Then I started getting questions.
  "Duncan said this, is that true?"
  "Hey, I heard that you...."
When I asked, he said I was crazy. I believed him. When the rumors didn't scare me off, he tried a more confrontational approach. Now me being near him was an offence. I didn't belong there. I was a selfish goody-two-shoes. I was still showing up at the table to be with my new friends, but most of my break period was now being spent dodging toxic glares. I started eating lunch by myself when he said he would "kill me if I came near him again". I thought we were friends. One day I walked up to him, asked him why he hated me. He did nothing; he stared right through me.
   I learned that butterflies can be trampled and broken.
   Through a long process of recovery and reconstructing my self esteem, I started forming new friendships, making sure to keep them all superficial. I was hurt, so to protect my heart, I kept it to myself. I operated under a false personality, a slightly more acceptable version of who I wanted to be. People can't reject me if I'm not myself. I had a group of friends that all liked who I became, so the fa├žade became a part of me, and I became comfortable in my fake skin. My close friends were nice, and the person I was really liked them. I was genuinely sad when I moved to a different district for high school.
   I learned that butterflies are subject to wherever the wind takes them. I accepted that I wouldn't keep a group of friends for more than one or two years.
   This became very apparent when we left our church. I had known most of the other kids for more than a decade, and leaving them left me feeling unprotected. Exposed. We jumped around to different churches for most of my freshman year, my morale and will to connect with other people decaying with each one. By the time we landed, I was distanced and apathetic.
   High school, however, was supposed to be a fresh start. Nobody from my middle school went there, so I could start over as the authentic, open person I wanted to be. I joined a sports team. Was the secretary for a club. Found a close group of girlfriends. Still, I couldn't shake the sarcasm, the sometimes witty and borderline mean humor that people seemed to like.
   I'm sick of it.
   I want to be known. I want to put who I am out for the world to judge and to see what I find with it. The teasing and the witty humor will forever be a part of me, but I want it to come from me, not from the person I became. Putting myself out there is the only way for people to like me, because they aren't becoming friends with me If I don't. They are making friends with the wall I built in front of me. I don't want to hide behind a self-fulfilling prophecy anymore. I want to flash the colors on my wings and shine in the sun.
   Because I learned that God protects the most colorful butterflies. He made them poisonous.

Login or Signup to provide a comment.