As a child, I never was quite comfortable being me. Insecure and riddled with allergies, lack of beauty and poor math skills, I would always compensate by trying to be the class clown. I wasn’t good at that either. I always loved those folks who could make people laugh without being silly. Those whose genuine humor was not manufactured to make others like them, but who used their brand of comedy to invoke happiness. When I began seventh grade in McMinnville, Tennessee, a new girl joined our class who moved from Oklahoma. Kay was outstandingly beautiful, sweet and was also excellent in math. When she walked by all heads turned to see this stunning young girl. I can recall attempting to emulate her in every way. She was slightly pigeon-toed, causing half the class to start walking with their toes turned inward, including yours truly. By the end of seventh grade, my insecurity became problematic, and my silliness was even getting on my nerves. Kay and I were on the same junior high basketball team and became good friends. I don’t need to mention she was also one of our best forwards who could outscore me every scrimmage. I wished with all my soul to be Kay, or Barbara, or Phyllis, or Betty. I wanted to be anyone but me. One day after a game, 12-year-old Kay began changing the course of my life. I was in the locker room, acting goofy when she asked to speak to me privately. While her eyes gazed thoughtfully into mine, she took my hand and said, “Lynn, you don’t need to act silly or try to be someone you’re not for us to love you because we do. You just need to become comfortable being you.” By eighth grade, I was on my way to discovering who I was and learning that being me wasn’t as bad as I once thought it would be.

I moved away a few years later and never saw wise Kay again, but to this day when a feeling of insecurity floats into my soul, my mind returns to the locker room off that Tennessee basketball court when I first decided I needed to live with the person I was meant to become.

How many of us go through times when we feel we are not capable enough or riddled with insecurity that keeps us stuck in silliness? To feel inferior in any way is most likely comparing ourselves to another instead of realizing our potential is not found in comparisons but in finding the person God intended us to be. How many times have you compared your life with another’s whose world appeared perfect only to find out later how imperfect it indeed was?

We all can reflect on friends, teachers and family members who influenced us to excel because they believed we could even though we didn’t. I don’t believe they walked onto our path by happenstance, but rather by divine road assistance. I can name each person who, without their sage advice, thoughtful criticism, and instruction, I would have strayed way off the road I was supposed to travel.

The other day, I received a long letter from a reader who had experienced several unfortunate blows in life and wound up in seclusion. Her purpose in life was lost in the quagmire of loneliness, mixed with bitterness and distrust. There had been few Kay’s in her life to take her hand to remind her she was loved as the person she was. Excuses, resentment, and distrust of others is a sure-fire way of not making the most of our lives. That is not what God intended to happen when he molded us, is it? When we harbor feelings of doubt, unworthiness and insecurity, we fall into isolation and depression. We must let people into our worlds daily and be open to their advice and counsel.

Sometimes my self-doubt returns, especially regarding my writing. When my ego gets in my way, here comes my friend, who proceeds to tell me to quit my whining and continue typing. This beautiful Kay-like person loves me enough to remind me not to be silly and keeps my eyes focused on the mission. God made each individual person with individual strengths. He had a plan for us when we were born and a road map for us to follow. No matter how old we are, we must pick up the guide, find the aid needed and prosper. It is a gift to be unique, extraordinary you.

Thank you, Kay, wherever you are.

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart. She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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