When I was a child

I always ever wanted to be able to compete with the boys
and each time I foot raced them I won every time at recess.
Because of my muscular frame, they called me names
and from the way I only ever wore soccer t-shirts and sweat pants.
After names were implanted into my brain like growing weeds,
I’ve only ever wanted to be feminine like the Chimamanda Ngozies.
I started wearing skirts and dresses
and in middle school they shrieked at the site done up hair like racists

But that weed inside of my mind only grew, and grew, and grew
until I became a mixed drink cocktail or an attaya brewed
with one part of me loneliness ensued,
I thought the definition of feminine began with the word frail.
No one ever realizes how greatly words affect us as we sail,
how simple nicknames can turn a pretty girl into a skeleton in a mail.

yet I still considered myself a girl of substance at that instant
just trying to cut through the flesh of judgment.
Even you could see my ribcage through my t-shirt
and my spinal cord protruded loudly through my weathered skin,
as if somehow my bones were dirty knives or a fin
As I grew older I became the girl that was never enough.
Not good enough to speak poetry.
Not good enough to lay paint on a canvas.
Not good enough.
Not tall enough.

Not primped to perfection.
Not undeniably straight.
Not smart enough.
Not dumb enough.
Not ditsy enough.
Not cool enough or fun enough.
And I began to believe, too, that I wasn’t enough.
I never told my father, for he, too, thought I wasn’t enough.

I only ever wanted to be strong,
and as a child I thought strength was only about being able
to lift a bar stool above your head with dices.
I thought that strength was only about being able
to beat the boys in bare foot running races.
I was told that strength was something only
a man possesses.
But as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that strength is nothingness,
That it’s not about weakness,
But the ability to overcome the social anxiousness.
It’s about carrying around a lifetime of baggage
on your broken back like a luggage
because the ones that kicked you when you were down
are going to be the ones that were ultimately wrong.
I thought that the definition of woman
began with the word disappointment.
And I became a mixed drink cocktail that instant
with one part freedom
and two parts doom
We will never be the ones who gave up on hope.
We will never be the ones who gave up on each other,
or our mothers.
We will always be enough;
enough for the ones who shunned us
enough for the ones that cursed us
enough for the ones that hurt us
destroyed us,
beat us when we were covered in bruises.
But you see, bruises fade
and the scars of our flesh are only stories
things we have overcome
and there are things out there that we will overcome.
When I was a child, I only ever wanted to be strong.

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