When I was six, I vowed to be the fastest in my class. It wasn’t for a bet or anything. But it was because during the first PE class I ever had, the teacher said, “Usually boys are the fastest in running.”
So for many years I was the fastest runner.
Unfortunately, puberty hit me early. When I was 11, during a race, my chest hurt so much that I collapsed after passing the finish line. The teacher awkwardly told me it was because I pushed myself too far, avoiding the puberty talk or the fact that I was already on training bra.
That day I finished the race a tie, with a boy, and I cried when I got home in my room.
When I was 14, I heard people talk about male musicians. That boys were better at focus and it gave them the upper hand when it came to music training.
So I spent at least two hours a day on piano, weeks to months, obsessing over winning a piano contest in which my main competitor was a boy.
I finished second place and was bitter for a week.
Nobody ever told me to be that way. My mother never once preached competitiveness to me or my sister. My dad never asked me to be the first place.
It just happened that way. That my blood boiled at the declaration that “Boys are better” in things, and I went out of my ways to prove the world wrong.
Even if my actions were irrational.
And for awhile I asked myself why I was so quick to answer people’s questions on how women needed men to be complete or how women had to be married at certain age. On “A woman needs a man” statement even more so. I wondered why I had to feel bad, and why I had to hear others tell me, “You could have just nodded or smiled.”
Why did I have to feel like I’d done something bad after explaining to people that they did not have to submit to the societal pressure of finding partners if it wasn’t their choice?
And when I asked myself why couldn’t I stop? Why couldn’t I just smile and nod?
I remember my beginning.
I didn’t smile and nod when the teacher said boys were faster when I was six. I said to them,”Girls can run faster too.”
I was mad that I was informed that girls, those with my biological builds, weren’t even given a chance in an opening statement. That I, who had been born one of them, was already limited.
I was always quick to say my point. Always ready to fight. Always ready to prove people that they could be wrong. That possibilities existed everywhere. That not one group could succeed, but both.
I had always been the same girl.
So why should I feel bad for simply being me?
If I had not been angry and decided to prove people wrong, I wouldn’t have heard my teacher go, “Look at that. That girl is the fastest. Y’all boys can’t beat her.”
Or my Muay Thai trainer going, “You boys suck! You’re only doing half her routine and you’re slowing down?”
I always responded to challenges. And for my whole life it had been so, why would I beat myself up for being the same person all these years? Sure, it could be of a different matter. But my response are still the same.
So I was remembering my years and it hit me. That I was not sorry.
And I don’t think I would be anytime soon. Or ever.