I just finished watching Penelope, starring Christina Ricci. It's a modern-day fairy tale about a girl who is trying to find herself. I'd love to recap it for everyone, because it is a charming and wonderful story, but I'll recommend that you see the film instead. There will be spoilers coming up, but this is what I want to write about today, so deal with it.
As the credits were rolling, I couldn't help but think how that film could be an allegory for my own life. Here is this girl, who has some pretty serious body-image problems. She feels repulsive, and she tends to repulse anyone who might love her. Over the course of the film, she figures out that there is a big world out there, and people just going about their lives. She eventually figures out that everybody has something about themselves that they don't like, something that makes them feel like a complete mutant. Once she figures that out and realizes that she likes the way she is, she stops being a mutant, and just starts being another person, like everyone else.
So right now, I'm in the stage when Penelope runs away from home and starts exploring the world. In the film, she's still hiding herself, but she's noticing that there's a universe of experience out there, just waiting for her to come try it out. Perhaps I'm not bursting out of my door, but I'm making my own exodus all the same. Once the character is finally discovered by the townspeople, she realizes that people like her for her, too. And I'm finding that out myself; those who have been with me from the start, and who see me trying to be true to the self that I see inside, are hugely supportive and loving, and happy that I can finally come out of the shell that I've been stuck in all this time, even for just a little while. I don't expect any parades in my honor, or to be the feature on the front page of the newspaper. I just hope for people close to me, to continue to be close to me, and that people will love me for who I am.
I also don't pretend that I'll suddenly become the same beautiful swan that Ms. Ricci is; I'm sure it will be a much more mundane transformation, and one which will take months, rather than moments. From ugly duckling, to kinda-cute duck, that will be fine with me.
But the most important thing about this whole journey, is that I'm starting to love me for me, and what I am inside, and what I know I can be outside.
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