In time, I would begin to envision myself as a fair rose hidden inside metal armor. Afraid to grow, afraid to feel, staying inside a metal cage meant to protect. As far as appearances went though, you’d never know I felt that way. I don’t think my own family knew how I felt, when it comes down to it. Appearances were very important – we always had to look perfect, the house had to be spotless, when we were moving we had to be all happy about it (even if we weren’t), that way people wouldn’t think there was something wrong. The worst thing that could happen would be for someone to wonder if there was something wrong/ someone wasn’t “happy”.
I joined a speech club when I was 13, and for the first time in years, I felt like I was going to make friends, my own friends that wouldn’t be impacted by my family (because, we were a debate club learning how to think for ourselves). Just as I felt like I was making some progress and was beginning to allow myself to know people, our situation changed and we prepared to move out of state – somewhere we’d never even been. It was a house my grandparents had bought and offered to let us stay in until they retired. I was not happy about the move. I was stressed, and I had no qualms about letting people know that I was less than thrilled. My mom took me aside one day and talked to me about my “bad attitude” basically explaining that I had to be happy (and I had better be!) because we don’t want anyone to think something was wrong – we should be excited instead.
So, by all appearances I was happy and excited about what God was doing for my family. Only Him and my journal witnessed my true feelings and felt my tears pour down and stain the pages. I still have that journal, and I can go back to those pages and thoughts, and the giant handwriting to express my anger and sorrow and stress of it all, and the pressure of having to put on a false front to keep my family from potential damage. It felt wrong, I was lying to myself and I knew it. Back into the box my emotions went as I prepared to say goodbye to the almost-there friendships. When we moved, I completed my tough-girl persona by dawning camouflage and a marine hat.
Becoming even more engrossed in politics and debate, refusing to cry, and trying desperately to purge emotion, I still longed for friendship, and eventually I found it. This handful of friends would be the first people to really know me, the people I could turn to and actually be myself with.
I did great things when we moved. After being there only 3 months I took on a project as an event coordinator. At 15, I managed to make contacts and spearhead a military rally, become a keynote speaker at a patriot’s day event, and over the course of a few years I would work on different local and out of state campaigns as a volunteer. I even had some experience working as a legislative aid for a month.
So again, to all appearances (even my parents) I seemed like a content over-achieving homeschooled teenager. I got good grades in school, wrote articles, and did all those cool hard things that homeschooled teenagers should do. I guess it’s no wonder that in light of that and my persona, even my family didn’t realize that inside deep down, I was hiding.
Hiding behind a wall of appearances, because deep down, I was afraid of myself. I didn’t want to let myself feel, I became afraid of differing with my parents because of the consequences. So I was the daughter they wanted, I took their words to heart, I defended them, I agreed with them, and I was their arrow. Made to pierce the bubbles of well-roundedness. To the observer, I was my father’s daughter…
Preparing a Visionary Daughter to Do Hard Things by Kiery: