The envelope was red, white and blue just like the flag
Betsy Ross spent days with bleeding fingers over so many
years ago. It was addressed to me from an unknown sender.
I was giggly, jumpy. Who would write to me? I wasn’t important.
Just a seventh grade nobody stuck in a sparkly purple wheelchair.
Mom said I could join. She secretly wanted her outcast
of a daughter to have a sense of normalcy during her
last fading moments of childhood. I just wanted to have
fun. I wasn’t ready to accept that I was different. I knew
that I was. The stares told me so but I didn’t want to be.
The letter said that I could represent my fine country
as America’s National Teenager. Me? All I had to do was show
my ability by competing in a scholarship pageant. You know,
a beauty pageant except it wasn’t being called so because adults
are trying to be sensitive to teenager’s feelings because we’re
more likely to be sensitive, emotional and prone to disruptive
and potentially harmful outbursts. The perks of being a wallflower.
Teenagers, we know this. We’re also not stupid. I and every
other girl who would participate knew this pageant
was nothing more than a beauty pageant; a popularity
contest. That didn’t keep us from dreaming of becoming
rich and famous, stop the crying fits, hormones from raging
or acting like drama wasn’t our life’s goal and college major.
Four days in Southern Idaho and an eight-hour drive
to and from gave me plenty of time to practice my talent,
an essay. Even then, I knew I had no real physical attributes.
Instead, I shoved my fears aside and wrote, rewrote and polished
my essay on America until my parents, teachers, and friends
repeatedly had to tell me “that’s enough already. You’ll do great.”
I made friends, told stories, laughed until snot came out my nose
and answered the ever cautious “What happened to make you look
that way?” I had the time of my life. I knew I wasn’t going to win
because let’s face it, I’m not pretty enough. And just as predicted,
I left with “Most Inspirational” and cried ugly tears when I
didn’t come home as America’s National Teenager. Looking back,
I was a real American teenager. I don't need a pageant to tell me so.