Stage Fright

When I was a freshman in high school, I ran for student body treasurer. If you ran for any position you had to make a presentation in front of the entire freshman class in the auditorium.
My dad helped me with my speech (he would have been a great politician himself) and my mom bought me a new outfit. The outfit was not cool, but I’m sure to her and any other parent it was absolutely adorable.
Unfortunately, adorable outfits and moving speeches don’t cut it to a group of 13 and 14 year olds. A really popular girl ran against me and it was a no-brainer, even to me, who would win.
But what I remember most was the terror I felt walking across that stage in the dark auditorium with the harsh white lights shining right on me. I don’t remember the speech, but I remember how hot the lights were on my face, how they were so bright in my eyes that I couldn’t help but squint, and how I could see from the corner of my eyes that my long hair had gone frizzy – my own Judas growing out of my head and proving furthermore that I was not fit to win this popularity contest. I mean, this was New Jersey in the early ’90’s. A teenager who couldn’t properly tease her hair was not at the top of the high school totem pole.
I was thinking of all of this last night as I tried desperately to find an outfit to wear for today, when I’ll be on a panel discussion at a conference. It doesn’t take much to turn me back into that terrified 13 year old, I guess. I want to have a cool outfit, I want my hair to be curly – not frizzy – and I really, really just want people to like me.
Clothes can be such an issue for people with stupid Crohn’s. My body changes all the time, not just from the Crohn’s itself but from the medication too. Am I losing weight? Finally gaining? Am I bloating? Are my joints hurting so I can’t wear heels? Is my stomach hurting so I can’t wear a belt?
It seems that no matter how I try to stock my wardrobe, half the things don’t fit for one reason or another.
It seems that the best clothes for me are the ones that are forgiving, such as stretchy skirts and fitted cardigans. Luckily, one such outfit was in my closet (a bit buried, but there) so it saved the day.
In a few hours I’ll be up there on that panel. I can already feel my hair taunting me. “It’s a rainy humid day, whoohaaaaa…”
But I’m bigger than that now. If I can fight Crohn’s, I can do this.


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