I wore the red dress.

I had hoped it would make a difference.

But I blended into the darkness.

I shouldn’t have come to this place.

 

It took all day to get ready.

I had thought about every piece of clothing I would have on.

I had spent more money on my accessories than I could afford.

 

He smiled in my direction, but not at me.

Linda laughed.

She laughed at something he said, and he paid more attention to her.

I wanted to laugh out loud like she did, but I was afraid of what my laugh would sound like to these people.

 

I crossed my legs to make me look more feminine, I guess.

I crossed and uncrossed them.

Could they tell that I was nervous?

 

I had something to say, but I didn’t complete my sentence before someone else jumped in.

I settled for smiling and nodding my head.

I even dared a few well-timed chuckles.

I prayed to God to just open the floor and let me be swallowed up.

I wanted to die.

The tears started forming but I sucked them in.

I decided to fake a headache and leave.

I didn’t need to do much faking because I really was beginning to have a headache.

 

They all turned to me in pity and bid me farewell.

I knew I would not be missed.

What a fool I had been.

 

I was very unattractive even after all the work I had put in.

I was boring and plain and undesirable.

I had nothing going for me.

What an idiot.

 

I had forced myself to go to my classes the next day.

My Sociology class was over and I would be heading straight for my room which I shared with a few other students.

Someone noticed the novel I had in stack of books under my arm.

She thought it was nice.

I told her I had a collection of the author’s works.

She was impressed and she asked me if she could borrow them.

 

I said yes.

She said cool, and got my number.

See ya later.

See you, I said.

 

That was very simple, I thought to myself.

There I was spending so much time and energy trying to get the attention of people who didn’t care a thing about me when there were good people all around.

I didn’t need to try too hard.

I could just be myself.

 

It took much longer to figure out who ‘myself’ was.

As I had to peel away layers of who I thought I was supposed to be.

I changed my tastes and I decided what was worthy of pursuit and what was not.

 

I tried to talk to my mom about it, but she didn’t seem to understand.

You see, she raised me all by herself.

And she wanted me to have the chances in life she never did.

I realized that her good intentions cost me.

I grew up thinking that there was something wrong with me.

I always needed something or some people to make me better and more acceptable.

I wish she told me that I was amazing.

I wish she told me that I was beautifully and wonderfully made by God.

 

But I also realized that she didn’t know.

No one ever told her these things.

She gave me her brokenness because that is all she had.

Mother to daughter.

 

Daughter to mother,

Teach me better.

Love me.

Show me how to be.

Show me what a real woman looks like.

Pay me some attention.

Give me good opportunities to be a better me.

Teach me, mother.

You’re a great teacher, you just didn’t know it.

If you show me what’s important, I’ll believe you.

If you teach me what counts, I’ll know.

 

I’m going to be like you when I grow up.

I’ll have a part of you whether I like it or not.

 

My mom had bought me that red dress.

She said he would notice me in it.

Especially if I did my make up well.

 

You see, I had never really thought I could be someone important.

She never told me.

She never showed me.

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