On Judging Books and Covers (But Not in a Literary Sense)

When I was in school, from elementary all the way through high school, I suspect most people thought I was not very bright and didn’t deserve a second thought, unless it was pity or scorn or, sometimes, a kind of fascinated curiosity (children and adults). MomsPics-Kim809073I was sickly and odd, and had stuff going on at home, and there were lots of things happening that no one really bothered to ask about. I had no talents or skills of particular note, and was not a pretty child, or a charismatic one. I wasn’t athletic, or clever, or well socialized. I didn’t wear the right clothes or have money to spend. My classmates, if they spared me a second thought, only seemed to remember me when I drew attention to myself, through something I did or said or how I dressed.

I read a lot. I drew a lot. That was my escape. I felt so alone most of the time, and like I had no future. No one took an interest in me or seemed to care what I did. Adults didn’t seem to like me but appreciated that I wouldn’t be the one who got into trouble. I kept my head down as best I could.

KimYearbookPicCroppedTo be fair, I didn’t have much interest in me, either. I didn’t even apply for scholarships, or to any colleges. No one asked me what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I was just… there. Kind of a tall, strange girl who stood out, but was also easily dismissed. Zero impact, but benign for all of that. Funny, because while I don’t think I’ve changed much, I think others’ impressions of me have. Sometimes old acquaintances are surprised by the person I am and don’t quite know what to make of it. Always an odd thing when it happens — it’s like they’re seeing me for the first time and they thought they knew me so well. People who meet me now would probably have a difficult time reconciling the two Kims.

If I ever do anything right as a parent or friend, it will be, hopefully, that I don’t dismiss people. That I don’t skim the surface and look no deeper than that. That I value people for who they are, and not the package presented to me. And, most importantly, that I get to know the people I care most about, and what drives them, moves them, makes them who they are.

At most stages in my life, I thought I was trying my best to keep it together. I never bothered doing more than that. Call it lack of confidence or a thousand other things, but IMG_0435it worked, and passed the time, and gave me room to breathe. I applied to the local community college because I had to do *something* as an answer to receiving a diploma. I had no direction, though, and could not even imagine being around in another decade, much less have an inkling what I might want to do. School was kind of the default, and I worked my way through it — literally. I stumbled through.

It was awkward and painful most of the time, and I had little in the way of street smarts or an understanding of human behavior or motivations. And I was a good employee and an excellent student who worked hard. That’s probably the best thing I can say. I did well, got very good grades, but never stretched myself. Got a Bachelor’s degree a few years later. Hated the field I was in. Made the decision to go back to school and become a teacher. Done and done. Got married, quit my teaching job and became a mom. FINALLY found my calling with that last adventure. It was the first time in my life I felt like I was doing something good and right, and getting it done well, even if I was the only person in the world who thought so. Time will tell.

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