People are always telling me I’m special. I assume they’re talking about my unique name or my overall spunky personality. I even interpreted it as them being able to tell that I’ve been through a lot of strife in my life, a sort of pity they’ve turned into a compliment, which I’ve come to resent. However, I see now it’s more than that. They’re pointing out something that I’ve tucked away due to the fear that I’d look ridiculous showing it off for the world to see. Being called special isn’t always about someone trying to festishize my pain, 90 percent of the time it’s actually their way of recognizing all the good things about me that I refuse to acknowledge. When you have scoliosis, like I do, it’s as though you don’t deserve to really feel good about yourself unless it boosts the self-esteem of able-bodied people: “Wow, she’s brave enough to feel herself with her back looking like that? Then I can too!” Eww, no my confidence isn’t for your wack ass. Liking myself was never for me, but a performance to make people comfortable so they wouldn’t feel bad for me. I’m done with that. It’s already a part of my personality to not really care what people think of me, so there’s really no need to keep putting on a show. I’m not unique or special because of the way my foreign name bounces off someone’s tongue or because my life has made me “deep.” I am special because of my genuineness, beauty, and talent, and if someone disagrees with that they’re wrong.

I broke down crying in therapy last week then cried even more because I felt stupid for crying, I told my therapist, in the midst of my sobs, that I was stupid for crying because I felt like I didn’t deserve to cry. I’ve been made to feel like my feelings are a lie, that if I called someone out for hurting me I was just exaggerating, and they had every right to treat me the way they did. Why the hell was I denying myself the right to feel things? I am worthy of my feelings. I’m worth telling someone that they hurt me in a really terrible way, and being able to be angry about that without them telling me I’m lying because they don’t want to accept that they’re not this innocent flawless hero who just wanted to “take care of me.” I’m so much fucking better than that and deserve so much more. And you know how I know I deserve the best? In the moments I was punishing myself for being able to acknowledging my sadness I remembered the moment that me and my friend Amy met. We were shouting over music at a party. I said “respectability politics” and she immediately pointed at me and started yelling, “YOU’RE THE ONE.” She yelled it four more times then tapped her friend to let her know that I was the one, then proceeded to put her number and email in my phone. Ever since then I’ve received nothing but blessings.

The problem is I haven’t been treating myself like I’m the one. Nothing I do satisfies me. I could find the cure for cancer and still believe at my core that I’m some worthless terrible person who hasn’t accomplished anything. That’s not true. I am genuine, beautiful, empathetic, and gifted. I deserve to cry, I deserve love and respect, and from now on, that’s the standard I’m going to hold for myself and others around. A person should treat me the way Amy looked at me when she screamed, “You’re the one!” the night I met her. I am special, I am “the one” and it’s time I recognized it. And if not for me, then for Amy. ♦