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Butterfly Obsession

I've wanted to tell this story for quite some time.  Tonight feels like the right time.

When I was on my very last day of Kindergarten, the teachers all took us to an organized field day.  There were different activities we could participate in, from rolling painted marbles around in shoe boxes to make colorful abstract art to bobbing for apples.  Some of the activities took longer than others, so eventually there formed a spot for stalling the students.  I remember clearly as my group reached the "stall for more time" location and the teacher on duty there would have us sit in the Duck-Duck-Goose circle.  When we grew tired of playing that silly game, or when someone decided to throw a fit over being picked one too many times, the game ended and the teacher struggled to come up with a new activity. 

"Ok, Children, I'm going to go around the circle and ask each of you what you want to be when you grow up.  Remember, you can be anything you want to be.  You can be a fireman, a doctor, a lawyer, whatever you like.  I'll start here with you." She pointed to a little girl about twice my size (I was small for my age) with blonde hair.  I'm sure her family would've been proud when she responded that she wanted to be a nurse like her mommy.  The next kid said he wanted to be a fireman, another would be a lawyer.  On and on it went until finally the teacher got to me. 

"And what would you like to be," she asked of me.  I'd thought about it for the entire time I waited on other children to answer.  I knew from the first second she posed the question what my answer would be. 

"A butterfly."

She stared at me, rather shocked.  "You can't be a butterfly."  I stared back at her and began to cry.

"But you said I could be anything!"

"You don't understand," she started to explain.  "I meant as a job.  Would you want to be a doctor or a police officer?"

"No," I wailed.  "I wanna be a butterfly!"

"Ok," she finally relented.  "Maybe someday you can wear a butterfly costume for Halloween and be a butterfly for a day." I was more determined than ever to prove her wrong after that statement.

Years went by where I grew up believing I was ugly, stupid and trapped in a perpetual "awkward stage" I would never outgrow where I looked too much like an aunt my mother didn't like for her to ever be really happy with my appearance.  I grew a thick skin after years of being told how ugly I was when I cried, but never learned how to look anyone in the eye when I shed tears.  My sense of humor developed into a witty sarcasm, often misunderstood but mostly laughed at.  It was one of very few positive attributes I had, according to my parents.  I was proud of that.  Yet I still remained within my protective shell.  My humor was my mask that I had successfully learned to hide behind.  I didn't know what I wanted to be when I became an adult, though I had dreams of being an actress, a model, a writer and an artist.  I knew I wasn't good enough to do any of those things, so they would never be anything more than dreams. 

Then I became a model at 17 years old for a back to school fashion show.  It started a series of events, leading me to miraculous events I never imagined would happen to me.  I became an actress by mistake at 24 years old.  I started to actually sell custom artwork in my early 20's also.  There were only two last childhood dreams to have come true.  I wanted to be a writer and I had to find a way to be a butterfly.  I knew I'd never be a butterfly so that idea just seemed silly, so I focused on being a writer.

Another random series of events led me to flight attendant interviews one day, and much to my own surprise, they hired me.  I'd finally grown out of my awkward stage at some point, and as I stood there looking in the mirror at my new Flight Attendant uniform, I realized I finally had my wings.  I had become that butterfly I told a teacher when I was only 4 that I would someday be.  She didn't believe in me.  Nobody did, really.  Not even me.  But I did it anyway.

A butterfly can not be helped out of is cocoon.  Any that have been helped by having the cocoon opened for them have died with their wings still rumpled around their bodies, stalled out before they ever take flight.  The pressure and stretching of the butterfly wings as it tries to escape the confines of the old comfort zone is what causes their wings to stretch; to grow in strength.  Every trial, every struggle, every pain, every horror and ever nightmare I've survived have caused my wings to grow in strength.  I've become bright, full of color and life, eager to go new places, explore life, laugh and truly live in ways others might never experience or imagine.  I may not have become a tiny insect with iridescent wings, but I certainly became a butterfly. 

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