Motivational Mondays: Smile…

Smile_Walter Scott Quote

My high school friend Tara posted this picture on Facebook and I was instantly flooded with emotion…..

My sophomore year of high school, I did something totally bold at the time.  I decided to run for Homecoming Court.  Having spent my freshman year trying my best to simply blend into the walls, I told myself I would make this year count and be more outgoing.  To my surprise and as well as much of the school’s I won a spot on Court.  Excited, I rented a tux, got a date and picked out my outfit for the parade where we would be driven around the field in a convertible.  At 15 this was the pinnacle of cool.

The day finally arrived and I was a nervous wreck.  When they finally made the announcement for the Homecoming Court to make their way to the driver’s ed range, I was  excited beyond belief.  Right before we pulled out onto the field, they slipped the sash over my shoulders and put the crown on my head.  For the first time, I left accepted by my peers and I was ready to party.  This was teenage equivalent of winning the lottery.   As the car rounded the corner, the chanted started.  It grew louder as I got to the stands where the majority of the jocks were in the front yelling “woot woot, get the f*g off the field…”  My heart sank and I fought the urge to cry because honestly, the only thing worse in high school besides being gay was being gay and crying in public.  So I did the next best thing.

I smiled.

I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  I smiled until I felt like I was going to cry from the pain of smiling, not the pain of being embarrassed for being gay.  I waved and smiled as we drove past and it was over.  I got out of the car, slipped the sash into my bag along with the crown and waited for the bus.  And I waited.  “Did they vote me into Court with the intent to embarrass me?  Do they hate me that much and why?”  Buses came and went, but I didn’t notice them because I was too busy wondering if I had the guts to walk into traffic and end it all.  I had never felt so low, so alone, so unhappy in my life. Eventually, I did get on the bus and got home.

I locked myself in the bathroom and I had a good cry.  I looked at myself in the mirror and saw for the first time is what I think was “me”.  I wasn’t the “fag” that they chanted.  I was Courtney.  I was smart.  I was funny.  And I spent the next 10 minutes listing all the things that I possessed.  And I smiled.  So I put on my rented tux that was a bit too big.  I put on my sash and the crown and smiled.  I picked up my date and we walked into the dance and I smiled.  It wasn’t because I felt amazing.  It was because I knew I had to do it.  I knew that I had to show up, no matter how horrible it was going to be at the dance.  I knew that if I didn’t go, they won.  I knew if I didn’t smile and show up, the me I saw in that mirror would never full mature into the me I am today.  I had to smile and “show up”.  So as the pic shows, I smiled and walked down that long aisle with my heart beating a mile a minute.  And when it was over I swore that I would never give another person the power to make me feel less than what I know myself to be.  Never. Ever.  I am me.  I am all the things I know myself to be and those things yet to come.

So I smile today remember those things of years past and knowing that I am the best me for them. And I smile also knowing that many of those folks have not aged well…..sometimes it’s the little things 🙂

[photo credit: tara graves]

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7 thoughts on “Motivational Mondays: Smile…

  1. I knew you always were strong and could make the best of any situation – this story is a testament to your awesomeness and to the reasons you are such a kind person.

  2. Wow, what a powerful and moving story. Good on you for knowing you have what it takes, and holding your head up high. Bravo!! And enjoy those last laughs too. You certainly earned them.

  3. This is such a powerful moving post and you have me in tears and I’m work! So amazing & brave of you to share your personal story with all the gritty hurtfulness – I’m so happy you were able to remember at a low point how amazing you are. One of my best friends told me, never let anyone steal your joy and I live by those words daily

  4. Pingback: Life in Oz According to Instagram! | Apartment34 | Food + Travel

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