L. wants to time travel.
She talked about it in her speech at the Wakulla County Tropicana Speaking Contest I judged recently.
She lacked comfort with speaking (don’t we all?). She lacked comfort in a noticeable way. Her body language spoke of her unease. Her well-crafted words got a bit lost in the trepidation of it all … the nerves. The judges (sorry…). The audience. The other contestants.
I loved her NASA shirt (of course I did).
I loved her courage, her gumption to get herself to the contest, stand up behind the podium, speak into the microphone about her desire to time travel and meet the scientists she admires so much.
L. got honorable mention out of four contestants, with the others scoring higher and getting 3rd place, 2nd place, 1st place.
I watched her after the contest, as the contestants were assembled for post-contest pictures.
She tried to shrink into the background. She looked so uncomfortable and miserable.
But she stayed.
She stayed … and this happened (please take the time to read this brief Twitter thread from my friend Rachel, who directed the contest).
She also stayed in my head.
***end of five minutes***
As the Twitter thread attests, L. is a beautiful young woman, in the way many sixth-grade girls are. She had no way of seeing that in herself, but she was gorgeous in a way that was all promise and no awkwardness. Beautiful face, pretty hair, total lack of awareness of how pretty she is.
Even though that point is important, the part that struck me was how her demeanor changed when she wasn’t *giving a speech*.
After the speeches, the emcee would chat with each contestant as the judges tallied our scores.
L. lit up, talking about her favorite scientist in a relaxed, articulate, engaging way. She lacked nothing. Whatever the opposite of lack … is what she demonstrated. ABUNDANCE … of intellect. Of promise. Of worth.
That’s why her comment after being told by two adult women that she is pretty and very smart: “People usually tell me I’m trash” is so devastating.
I have a daughter. I’ve been a daughter. I’ve tried to instill confidence in my own daughter and I’ve fought my own battles with trusting my intellect and knowing what I have to contribute to the world is enough.
I believe Rachel when she says, “I’m going to follow up & figure her story out & see if I can help nurture her love of all things science,” because a) I know Rachel has never said “I’m going to follow up” and failed to do so and b) she won’t lack for help.
I’ll be first in line.
*NOTE: L. obviously has a full name and it was a public contest, but it doesn’t seem fair to her to use it. Let her represent a legion of bright sixth-grade girls just like her.
Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.)