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Looking Back – A Different Lens

2 Comments 13 May 2010

You can take the girl outta the small town…, or so the saying goes, but you can’t take the small town outta the girl?  Who the hell knows what that means, but it sounded clever to start this little post.  To say I was born and raised in small town U.S.A. is no understatement.  It was small and I was conspicuous, but not always for the best reasons.  I would not say it was like being a big fish in a little bowl as much as I would say it was like being a fish out of water.  My first couple of decades offered me a multitude of experiences that at the time, told me where I didn’t belong, however, looking back with a different lens, they were part of shaping who I would become.img_1042

I seemed to find trouble, or it found me on a regular basis.  It wasn’t that I wasn’t raised well.  My parents drug us to the First Baptist Church in town at every opportunity, although for years I never knew that the service started before the part where they take up the money.  I found out later that was the midway point of the service, but my family was perpetually late and therefore, perpetually unhappy by the time we made our always infamous entrance. I wanted to be good, do what was right and I found myself living in a perpetual cycle of trouble, fear, guilt and what I like to call campfire redemption.

In my family, there were three of us kids, I was smack dab in the middle, with an older sister and a younger brother.  My sister was was blond with blue eyes and my brother was brown with blue eyes and me, well, i was just plain ol’ brown with brown eyes.  (Kinda like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)  My sister was a pretty cheerleader and my little brother was a cute baseball player and well, and me…I was…skinny with a bad shag hair-cut from Fantastic Sam’s.

Ok, I know skinny is oh so popular now, but, when I say skinny, I mean skinny like turn sideways and disappear skinny, like snap you like a twig skinny, like kate moss would wanna be my bff skinny, you get my drift, huh?  But this kind of skinny, in the late seventies and early eighties, in small town Mississippi only brought me pain and suffering, not a modeling contract from Elle or Glamour.

I tried to follow in my sister’s footsteps and dance my way onto the Drill Team, but when I couldn’t do the “rock” to Funky Town it all went to hell in a handbasket.  I then unsuccessfully tried to be a cheerleader and finally ended-up playing basketball and running track.  I did love softball, and I am a hellava team player, but no “SuperStar” status for me.

So what becomes of a girl who grows up failing, skinny and filled with religion in the South?  Well, she learns a lot about the world in that small town.  She learns that the world is big and she wants to be out in it.  She learns what pain feels like at very young age.  She learns that guilt is a heavy load to bear and one that is very difficult to unload.

I also learned, for better or for worse, how to be independent.  This lesson came with great pain and heartache at times, as those who I thought were my confidants failed to be so.  However, just as a broken bone is stronger in the spot where it heals than it was before it was broken, so I too believe those painful spots in my childhood and youth serve even today as platforms for me to love and give and be who I am meant to be.

I was treated very poorly by boys when I was younger.  That skinny girl was an easy mark for cruel boys and their remarks about boobies and bras and any other gender jokes.  At the time, their words, their sneers and their laughter seemed a nightmare of which I could find no possible end.  However, as I stumbled along, watching my girlfriends, my sister and other girls in general getting the “positive” attention of these same boys, I learned a great deal.

Of course I didn’t see these things, or I certainly wasn’t aware of it, back then, but looking back, I see things through a different lens.  I was affected by what I observed and it shaped me.  There was something deep inside my little soul that was born from those years.  It gave me the fortitude on many occasion to steer clear of bad relationships later on in life.   But it also grew in me a deep sense of loyalty to my friends, to those I loved and to those who loved me.

I have said in other spots on this blog that I am an EMPOWER-er.  I don’t think that is a silly thing.  I think it was born in me in those early years.  The seeds of empathy were planted during showers of middle school tears and they began to grow.  I am fierce about fighting for those I love.  Yes, there are always obstacles to overcome from our pasts, failings to put behind us, un-teaching to be done in our minds, but we must look back with a lens that allows us to see the lovely things that end up growing in even the most desolate spots.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Chrissie says:

    Jorja: I’m so glad that Andy send the link to your new blog. I love it and will look forward to following it.

    I like this entry. It is full of universal truths,especially the idea that past heartache produced present compassion–and compassion is so important. I like the way you call yourself an “Empowerer.” Good for you for using your gift this way. The world needs more “Empowerers!”

    • Jorja says:

      so appreciate your thoughtfulness chrissie. i don’t have a red cape or anything (or at least i can’t say i do in public!) but i do love helping others get where they should be!

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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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