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Ugly Black Bird: Shyness and Confidence Collide

For weeks they thought I was just sick. Some stomach bug preschoolers get because they share boogers like teenage secrets. I just complained my stomach hurt and I didn’t want go anywhere. My mom finally brought me to the doctor. It was there I confided a boy was chasing me around the on the playground and I didn’t like it. There he gave me some unconventional advice I still pull from at times. “Call him an Ugly Black Bird, and tell him to go away.”

See, I was incredibly shy growing up. Painfully so. I never wanted to have attention drawn to me and went to great lengths to make that happen. If you don’t know me, or haven’t stalked me on social media, I have red hair. The kind that gets ya noticed. It always has. So being the center of attention happened frequently. I remember hiding behind my mom in grocery stores because someone would stop us and comment on my hair color. I hated it. It made my stomach hurt. I did not know how to accept attention, how to verbalize my needs (given my personality, not because I did not have a great role model for assertiveness). I didn’t know how to be confident given my personality.

Some folks are naturally outgoing. They shine and radiate confidence even as a kindergartener. The teachers notice them, you notice them. They sometimes seem too precocious for their age, given their confidence. Me, that certainly was not me. But I was intelligent. Even then I didn’t like the world just “happening to me.” I just didn’t know how to make that work for me. My mom is and always has been assertive as HELL. No one steps on her without her barking at them. My dad is shy, easy going, and never has problems with anyone. I didn’t know how to fit. Then someone told me to call a boy an Ugly Black bird. It made me laugh. It gave me power. It gave me a platform for confidence that worked within who I was.

I don’t think I ever called that boy an Ugly Black Bird. I am not confrontational. I am less afraid of that now. But inherently, still hate people getting mad at me. It still makes my stomach hurt. I don’t like to get mad or make people mad or uncomfortable. So I didn’t call him a name. But I held that permission to do so, like a bronzed sword in a scabbard. I was given permission to speak up and was given a humorous way of doing so. It taught me two things, I can (and should) speak up regardless of my comfort and that humor can deescalate most things (when you’re funny I suppose).

Today, people usually laugh when I tell them I was a shy little kid. If my mom is around, she usually says something along the lines, “you really have no idea.” Inside, there are lots of times I’m still the girl grasping for the scabbard of the bronzed sword. Sometimes I have to hope it is still there to support me. And other times you have to call the boy an Ugly Black Bird and tell him to get away from you, then you move the hell on (even when it makes you uncomfortable).

All I mean here, is that there is always a way. You are never stuck in “who you are.” And it’s never a damn excuse. You don’t get to use your personality, your lot in life, you parents, or you’re what the hell ever. If you don’t want the world to just “happen to you.” Find a way. For me, I accepted the advice from a doctor to call a little boy an Ugly Black Bird. I discovered that I had a power I didn’t know I had.

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Raymore Mo

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