Write the one thing someone said to you a long time ago that still hurts.
That’s the writing prompt I discovered in a book. And I knew instantly, what that one thing would be.
Back during my high school days (we’re talking about the years 1991-1994), a friend of mine told me something that I have carried with me, locked away in my memory.
“Your sister is prettier than you.”
I didn’t doubt it. My sister is three years younger than me. She’s always been taller and thinner than me. She never had the same problems with acne that I did. She was pretty. No question about it.
To this day though, I don’t know what good can come of a comment like that. It hurt me then, and it still hurts, and it made me look at things differently. Because I realized then that people would look at my sister and I and compare us -- “the pretty one” and the “not-so-pretty one.”
I never felt my looks were my strength. I knew what my strengths were. My neat handwriting. My good grades. My reading speed. My quick math calculations. I was a good student. Studious, serious, and sincere. (And in all fairness, my sister was also a good student.)
I accepted, quite a while ago, that I would never be pretty in the way that beauty pageants describe pretty. I’m too “me” to be that kind of pretty. And by me, I mean “authentic.” I won’t wear clothes that aren’t comfortable. I won’t wear a bathing suit that covers less than my underwear. I won’t wear shoes that I can’t walk in. I won’t wear a bra that adds sizes to my breasts. I won’t wear gold jewelry or big diamonds.
It’s been more than twenty years since Sally spoke those words to me. They were mean and unnecessary (as I’ve found, most hurtful words are). And they’re just that -- words.
And I’m sure those words, like the Preamble to the Constitution (which I first memorized during elementary school), will continue to remain in my memory.