Monday, August 22, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

It's a beautifully painful story.  Angst ridden, heart wrenching--the truth about every writer who has ever breathed oxygen on this place we call Earth.

Wait, you thought it was about being accepted?  Well, that's true too.

This story truly can apply to any life, anytime, anywhere.  For me, it applies dually.  The Ugly Duckling speaks to my heart as a writer, and my insecurities as a woman.

Walking through life, we all fit into "groups" or "cliques" whether or not we want to.  Most of us swim throughout the pond, even though one type of waterfowl may not be like us.  We get along best with our own type, but we can be friendly with those that don't look or act quite like us.

For a writer, getting along with others is sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, but always a bit different than it is for other people.  We interact (most of us) just fine, have friends and family we love, but we are never fully in "this world".  A writer's mind wanders--far and wide, to places unknown to those around them.  I bet you've seen it, especially if you know me even a little.

The eyes glaze over, and though she nods her head, you know she's going to have to ask you to repeat that last sentence.  She isn't hard of hearing, she's hard of concentrating.  You said something that clicked her writing mind into overdrive.  They don't mean to ignore you, they were merely inspired but whatever it was you said!

Sometimes, a writer feels like an Ugly Duckling--they just don't fit in.  Then one day, that sad little duckling full of stories with no one to tell them to, sees a flock of beautiful swans--feather pens in hand.  With a glance, they notice the duckling and beckon him over with a wing, handing him a pad and pen and telling him to write as he's never written before!

That's what it feels like when you group a large amount of writers into one room and tell them to interact.  It's so wonderful to feel like someone gets you in a way that others couldn't.  Now, truth be told, the writers I have met don't get me in the way my mom does, but they DO get me in a way she may not.  Meeting writers isn't an end all for me to interact with all of those I loved before I had that chance.  On the contrary, it simply broadened my horizons.

That being said, despite the swan that I am told I have become, my insides still feel like that little Ugly Duckling.  It's so funny to think, because I am so used to it, that when I put myself down (mentally or verbally), I'm going against the beliefs of several of those who love me.  Is it because they love me? Or because what they say is true? (Rhetorical question).

I had an experience recently where I felt I had made a FOOL of myself in front of a rather attractive young man.  The friend I was with marveled at my sudden insecurity and social awkwardness.  He remarked that he'd never seen me so "out of control" when it came to my cool steely personality.  He'd never seen me flounder and fluster and blush as insanely as I did in that moment.

"No matter what anyone says, I still feel like an Ugly Duckling on the inside.  Like I open my mouth to speak, and all that comes out is a ridiculous 'hooonk'".

He laughed jovially and told me that wasn't the case, that no one would have thought me a fool in that moment but myself.

Isn't that the point though?  I think I am the fool.  I think I am still the awkward Ugly Duckling whose "best friend" would reference to herself as "the pretty one" and to me as "the funny one", and sometimes "the smart one".  I still get caught up in those moments where I am attempting to sound sane when speaking to an alluring gentleman, and all I hear is "hoooooooooonk".

When I look in the mirror, I don't see a confident Swan smiling back at me--knowing full well that she is beautiful, inside and out.  That she is a talented writer who will one day be published.

I see an awkward little Duck, trying her best to stay strong and look confident when on the inside she's squirming and squawking.  A little Duck who knows she should see the Swan, but somehow can't.  A little Duck who looks at her writing and wonders how  she'll ever be what she's always dreamed to be, and then speaks to a man and wonders how she'll ever find anyone who sees her for what she can't.

And every Swan, Goose, and Mallard alike smile at her sweetly, telling her that in time she will have these things.  In time she will be published, seeing her books on the shelves in Barnes and Noble.  In time and only in God's time, will she meet the man of her dreams--despite her desire to have at least one notice her once in awhile.

In time, my little Duckling, you will stare into your reflection and you will see a Swan.  It takes hard work, patience, and perseverance.  Have the tenacity to succeed, and no one will be able to feel like you've failed.  You are beautiful as you are, in both writing and in person.  "Don't let the bastards get you down."  They aren't worth it in the end.  Concentrate on what God made you to be and eventually everything else will fall into place.

Those are the things I have to remember.  If there are any other little ducks reading this, know that I mean that for you as well.  Birds of a feather...well, you know the saying.


Garrett Heide said...

Oh, Kelsey-- we both know that everything you say there will come true with God's perfect timing. And this will be true, whether you see yourself as the out-of-place duckling or the beautiful swan that you really are. ;)

Andrea said...

I love the way you use words... It really expresses the way I think you were feeling... and I can totally relate.. God has a plan and a purpose for you.. and for me.. and I am excited to see how it all pans out. :D