New to this series? Here are parts one and two.

When I got to sunny Miami, I was in for a few shocking realizations. One, everything outside of my part of Louisiana is HUGE. Two, water really does come the same shade of blue in the Crayola box. Three, I have a ridiculously thick Southern accent (and no, I don’t hear it when I speak.) Four, I am desirable.

Let’s look at that last part.

For years, I concerned myself with what others thought of me. I still did my best to march to the beat of my own drum, but it was still couched in trying in some form to fit in. And honestly, I had to realize that wasn’t going to happen. At least, it wasn’t going to happen on the level I’d hoped. All of the teen movies coming out showed that with faith and a bit of luck, any ugly duckling would blossom into a swan.

That’s bull. You’re already the swan, you just need the eyes to see it. I wish I would have.

While shopping for school clothes, with my mom before the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I noticed I was turning some heads. I immediately felt self-conscious. I’m thinking, okay, I’m so fat folks got to stare me down? Did I grow an extra head? Do I have yet another zit? What is going on here? What is this madness?!

Nope. Apparently, I ain’t too bad to look at.

I really wasn’t sure what to do with this news. For years, I’d been told otherwise by my peers, and made to feel otherwise by family at times (“I’ll pay you if you’ll lose 50 pounds!”) And now…I’m…pretty?

I wish I could say I was modest when this realization hit me. Nope. I went from having zero self-esteem to conceited. I would create outfits that today would make me cringe if I had photographic evidence of my wearing them.

But I rocked them with reckless abandon.

What’s interesting about this is that I’d always tied self-worth to weight. I dressed to look smaller. If I was quiet, no one would notice me or my fat. Blend in, be silent, keep the people away. Then I could be liked, loved even. I could be special.

And I discovered I could be all of those things and fat. Serious business, y’all.

By the time I made it to college, I understood I didn’t have to conform to be a part of a certain circle. There were plenty of circles to be a part of, and hey, I could even make my own! My mind continued to evolve, and I was a better person for it.

Whether I’m stepping in heels or sneakers, I continue to put one foot in front of the other. Time marches on; the world spins; I rise.

The Evolution Continues.

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