For years, there were distinct versions of Emily you could have known. I will never forget this story from my childhood.
My parents came to my school for parent-teacher conferences when I was in Kindergarten. I was a morning Kindergarten kid, and after lunch I would walk across the street to the Dartmouth College Child Care Center (DCCC) for after-school care. My parents scheduled both conferences for the same day, and walked across the street just like I did. At school, my Kindergarten teacher gave me rave reviews. They heard all about the perfect angel I was. I was reading fast, sharing well, and behaving myself. They were thrilled. Across the street, the report was slightly different. “Emily is wild,” they told my mom and dad. “She’s great, and so full of energy and excitement.”
When they came home, they sat me down and told me about the reports. They asked about the difference in my behavior, to which I responded, “Oh, they like when you’re bad at DCCC.” To this day, we tell this story and laugh, but recently I’ve begun thinking about which version of Emily was more authentic back then. I was mostly a quiet kid. I liked to read and color and build fairy houses. Perhaps I was only playing crazily and wild to keep up with the hippie, fun atmosphere of the child care.
For years beyond Kindergarten, I found myself morphing into the easiest version of myself to blend into my surroundings. I never felt like I fit in or had a lot of purpose, even through my teenage years. It wasn’t until college came and almost went, before I realized that I couldn’t “fit” anywhere if I wasn’t my most authentic self, my truest shape.
Prompt: Name an experience, or a moment, when you feel you let your truest truth shine out of you. Perhaps it was a moment when you so easily could have just gone along with the crowd, but you didn’t. When have you stood up and shown yourself more authentically than ever?