I remember coming home from second grade and staring at my crooked legs in the mirror. I had watched my classmates on the playground that day. I stood back, quiet and still amidst their shouts and laughter, part envy and part curiosity as they effortlessly ran and skipped and jumped, their bodies obeying the secret language their neurons spoke to their muscles. A language my neurons did not speak.
My brain was good at reading, at writing, at numbers, I thought. Maybe if I tried hard enough, I could learn this too.
But I found that it didn’t matter how long I stood in front of that mirror; it didn’t matter how long I tried to get my legs to move like theirs. My muscles clenched. My knees caved inward. My ankles collapsed. No matter how long I studied their movements, it didn’t matter.
Two years later, in one of my countless physical therapy sessions, I stood watching my therapist as she mimicked my stiff gait.
“I want less of this,” she had said, knocking her knees into each other with each step. “And more of this.” She straightened up.
A pang in my chest. There it was—the language I had tried to learn. The language my body could not speak. I felt my cheeks burn as I tried in vain to match my movements to hers.
I don’t remember what she said after that, but I remember what I felt:
I am not enough.
No matter how hard I try, I will never be enough.
It would be nearly another decade before I found people who moved through the world like I do. People whose muscles clenched and knees knocked, whose bodies spoke the same language as mine.
These people taught me a beautiful lesson:
I didn’t need to give less of who I am.
If I could go back in time to eight-year-old me—to ten-year-old me—first I would wrap her in a hug.
And then I would tell her
You don’t need straight knees and fluid movements to be whole.
You are enough.
Just as you are—
you are enough.