Growing up, I have always been labelled as quiet and shy. More like I was only quiet if you didn’t know me or I didn't feel like entertaining you. However, I'll admit, I can be reserved and rather observant. Sometimes introverted and sometimes extroverted...that depends on who you are and what vibes I get from you.
When I was in elementary and middle school, I was very sensitive and I pretty much cried anytime I got something wrong, did something wrong, or forgot to do something. Of course, I was labelled as the cry baby. Not only did I have thick eyebrows but thanks to my dad’s side of the family, I also had VERY dry skin . I was called Snow White, asked if it was winter time (because of my outbreaks of psoriasis), and every other cruel flake joke. Simultaneously, I was participating in beauty pageants, fashion shows, excelling at spelling bees, making the best grades, active in everything, but I never felt good enough or pretty enough. People would always tell me how pretty I am or that some feature of mine was incredible. That means nothing to the girl who doesn't believe it. In a way, I was socially awkward because I wasn’t confident in myself or comfortable in my own shoes.
In high school (Western High School....best high school ever...hands down), I remember someone telling me, “Jess, you are the nicest pretty girl that I have ever met. Usually they are all stuck up.” I never classified myself as pretty. I just wanted to be nice to people because I knew how it felt to be picked on.
After joining the answer to my prayers, I had a conversation with some of my friends about possibly moving from Maryland to Tampa, except I was afraid to be alone in another state. One of my....associates.....laughed at the idea because he remembered my social awkwardness and how I preferred not to talk to strangers. My beloved friends encouraged me to take the vacation, even if it meant going alone, so that I could learn to get out of my comfort zone. The sensitive, nice girl was now becoming this courageous, travel warrior. I looked at the trip as a pursuit of peace, a chance to talk to God without the noise of my everyday life, a time to get to know myself....and possibly scout my new apartment.
It was weird to experience 75-degree temperatures a few weeks before Christmas. I'm used to frigid temps with a chance of snow. There I was, laying pool-side in my bathing suit listening to Christmas carols. I had traded my Christmas sweater for a pair of shades and sandals.
I woke up the next morning and took a jog around Tampa's Riverwalk. With each step was a quote engraved in the bricks. Some caught my eye and I smiled. I watched a Christmas bike-a-thon make its way down the street and then I found myself sitting on a bench observing the scenery. As I sat there thanking God for his creations, a group of Christmas carolers came paddling down the river. I couldn't help but to giggle as Rudolph's nose lead their way.
Although there weren't many people around for me to talk to. This trip taught me to get out of my shell. Even though I had traveled alone, I had an amazing time blowing in the breeze and resetting who and what I thought I was. It's an amazing feeling when you start to get to know yourself. #WhereInTheWorldIsJessP