I am a product of my upbringing. I have been conditioned my entire life to be a good, friendly girl who smiles and does as she is told. It’s rude to say no, it’s rude not to smile, so I have endured being used and put down with a smile.

I wasn’t shy as a child. My flustered smiling is a learned habit. Speaking up when a bully said something mean got me in trouble. Speaking up when someone made me uncomfortable was rude. Speaking up when men commented on my looks got me in even more trouble. There have been many times in my life where I wished I was invisible. But I am tall, blonde and busty, and many people seem to want things from me.

Until my late twenties, I was that good girl the world told me I should be. I thought that if I would just try to fit into that box, life would sort itself out. If I just changed myself, ignored the parts that didn’t fit, the mold would become comfortable at some point, and I’d be a happy mommy like everyone wanted me to be. Then I woke up and realized how unhappy I was.

In the past years, many people have helped me realize that life is a journey of self-discovery. That I have something to teach and inspire in others. That I have a right to feel what I feel, to think in my own way. I feel liberated, as if the mold has broken and fallen off.

So here I am, naked in the sunlight for the first time. Without the mold, I’m not quite sure what shape I am. But I’m curious to find out.

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