So I’ve been contemplating my existence on FB and whether or not to continue or just chuck it and delete my account. What keeps me going is contact with a select few… one of whom is my sophomore English teacher. Holy cats, this woman is one of the funniest, kindest, smartest people I know. Love her.
So I log into FB this morning and she has one of those goofy cartoons posted… I rarely find them amusing, this one I thought was hilarious. First, I refuse to call her by her first name and she refuses to answer to Mrs. T— because I’m going to be thirty-seven and she hasn’t been my teacher for, um, twenty years. As such, we came to an agreement. I offered a selection of goofy names and she selected Gert. Ever since, she’s been Gert to me. This is what Gert posted this morning:
I’ll be honest… usually I find myself wishing the creator of these things would fall down a manhole because I think 99.9% of them are stupid. This one, however, brought about a far different response. As I told Gert, it was more of a howling-with-laughter-and-covering-my-mouth-to-hush-up response.
Gert, is to me, one of the most wonderful persons I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I was a very overweight, withdrawn teenager when I was in her class. She looked at me one day and said, “Never try to be anyone other than yourself. We will love you for who you are.” That profound statement has been with me all these years and has influenced my life more than I can say. And I’ve always thought Gert was lovely and hysterically funny. She’s not thin, but to me she was beautiful. You’d have to know Gert, but there’s just something about her that’s infectious and you can’t help being drawn to her and loving being around her.
Part of me reacted strongly to this image because I could just hear her wisecracking it.
The other part of me could relate in a twisted way… It was a pain in the butt to be overweight and have my wit, beauty, and intelligence overlooked simply because my shape was less than perfect. There’s more to a person than the wrapping paper… it’s the contents that matter. Now I’m thinner, but I’m still overweight according to the insurance carriers and doctors. Whatever. I’m happy and in a territory that’s sustainable. My body was never meant to be skinny. At size 6 I’d be disproportionate and look ill. And I’d have to exist on a diet of crunchy water and rice cakes or something equally appalling. I’d rather be a bit lumpy and healthy-looking. I’d rather be a person who is comfortable to hug and not all elbows and ribs poking out. I’d rather be comfortable to the nieces and nephews I snuggle. And that’s okay.
I’m a heckuva long way from the overweight, withdrawn teenager who was blessed to walk into Gert’s English class. Sure, she made English bearable (nope, this bookworm has never enjoyed English as a class), but she made a far greater and lasting impact on me by encouraging me to be the person I was designed to be. And to not apologize for it. I am who I am and that’s who I was designed to be… a smart cookie with an off kilter sense of humor, a highly introverted (but not shy!) tendency, and a big heart for those she loves who is sometimes a little too cerebral for her own good. And while my outsides are a lot healthier than they used to be, it’s those insides that matter.
P.S. She’s the first person to have me take the Myers-Briggs personality test… I was, and still am, a hyper-ISTJ. I’m abnormally far over on the scale of all of those identifiers. Crazy. Don’t try to be me, it’s not without its challenges!