I get a secret thrill whenever someone thinks I'm a vapid, gossipy Valley Girl.
It's not the most flattering description, but it nevertheless evokes the same sense of wonder in me as when someone mistakes me for a glamorous fashion model. Or considers me a vivacious optimist. Or expresses admiration for my outgoing, bubbly personality, sure that I am beloved everywhere.
I'm always amazed that these people are talking about the way they see me. Me.
I try to hide the surprise and muse to myself, "So this is what it feels like." To be someone else, I sometimes add, even though it's not true.
This is how I remember myself:
She's a gangly tomboy with glasses, braces, and zits — the triumvirate of dorkiness — and dressed awkwardly in jeans and a worn hoodie. The tall one, not the beautiful one. The smart one, not the popular one. Serious and quiet, she'd rather escape into a novel than suffer the inane conversations of those girls as they chatter about clothes or music or parties. Her parents worry she's antisocial; she rarely bothers to ingratiate herself to others, preferring the solitude of her own thoughts.
Sometimes I forget that she has changed, that she’s no longer limited by the stereotype she'd pigeonholed herself into.
And that's why I love being confronted with any view of myself, complimentary or not, that challenges the one I've held for so long.
It reminds me that the-girl-I-was can, and did, stretch herself beyond what she'd once thought possible.
And so, I let myself dream — of how she will continue to expand her repertoire, wider and wider, until it encompasses everything she's ever wanted to be.