When I got to school, though, everyone asked what I was. I was shy - painfully shy- and to suddenly get all this attention for something that I thought needed no introduction, I panicked. I took off the Flo-Jo characteristic tights. Garbed in simply a leotard, I let my classmates believe that I was a gymnast or a swimmer even a dancer- it didn't matter which. The vagueness of it allowed me to escape anyone's notice.
When I got home, my mom asked me how the costume party went and I admitted I hadn't been Flo-Jo at all. I think she was a little disappointed.
While walking to work this week, the memory of this Halloween came to me. It surprised me how recent it felt - the shame and embarrassment of not being Flo-Jo in public, of talking with my peers. You know what? I'm disappointed too. Sad even. Because Flo-Jo was awesome! And a little seven year old girl being her for Halloween? Even more awesome!
So, why was I afraid of being awesome? Why was I afraid of being myself?
It's simple: I'm afraid of rejection. If you have an opinion, a thought, a personality, at some point someone is going to disagree with you (or worse). It's just the way it works. But for someone who is ultimately afraid of being rejected in any form, this means remaining as neutral as possible and even then, still hurting from the people who dislike people who have no opinions, thoughts or personality.
I'm doing myself no favors this way, though. Honestly, I'm not doing the world any favors either. My elementary school missed the opportunity to have a Flo-Jo in the Halloween parade. Hopefully, the world could use an original, thinking, acting, motivated Erin today.