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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 from Writer

This community has helped me get over a fear of showing people my writing, and an inability to take ownership and pride in what comes out of my mouth and fingertips.

I can't thank any of you enough for that.

I welcome any feedback or criticism that you have to offer. You're here because you at least found something of mine that sparked interest, so thank you.
I want to improve.

The Butterfly

August 20, 2018

    When I was a baby, my pastor prophesied that I would be a butterfly. A beautiful metaphor, if you don't think about it too much. Butterflies are essential. They pollinate 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 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 friendly, and I did my best to be the most likable version of myself. They got bored of me quickly. My family didn't have the money for brightly hued Justice clothes; I was a tad overweight, and didn't have a crush on anyone particular 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 church. We all went to different schools, but despite our clashing personalities were raised similarly, so we were all family. They grounded me, and we were all each others' support team and confidants. I learned that butterflies are safer in groups.
    Otherwise, I started my fourth grade year alone.
    And then I met him.
    I always had stories and fantasy worlds in my head, but he brought plot, conflict, into my formless ideas; I‌ attribute most of who I am as a writer today to our games together. We would weave between 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 became the kings of our own world. We were thrilled when we got into the same middle school. I was convinced that, despite the change of scenery, he would still be my best friend.
    He changed.
    It wasn't noteworthy 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.
    "He told me this, is that true?"
    "Hey, I heard that you...."
    When I asked, he said I was crazy. I believed him; I had no reason not to. The rumors didn't scare me off, so he tried a more confrontational approach. Now being near him was an offence. I didn't belong there. I was an egocentric goody-two-shoes. I continued to show up at the table to eat with my new friends, but most of my break period was now being spent dodging noxious 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 painstaking process of recovery and reconstructing my self esteem, I started forming new friendships, ensuring 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 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 facade became a part of me, and I was comfortable in my fake skin. My close friends were nice, and the person I was really liked them. I was genuinely heartbroken when we all went to different high schools.
    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 glaring when we left our church. I had known most of the other kids for more than a decade, and leaving them left me feeling exposed. Vulnerable. We migrated 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 group of girlfriends. Still, I couldn't shake the sarcasm, the witty and borderline mean humor that people apparently liked.
    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. 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 to protect myself. 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.

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