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I often wondered what kind of slip I would be written on if I was a word. Something too long, certainly. Probably the wrong color. A scrap of paper that didn't quite fit. I worried that perhaps I would never find my place in the pigeon-

holes at all.    ~from The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams.

“Oh, what a beautiful bracelet! Where did you get it?” she loudly exclaimed for all to hear. She barely listened to where I got it as she grabbed my wrist and proceeded to parade me around the classroom. This classmate of mine loved to be the center of attention. Her interrogation continued as she asked if this was my first social work class I

had taken. When I informed her that we had been in several of the same classes, she gave me half a glance, dropped my wrist with a flick and declared, “oh you must be one of those nondescript type of people.” She left me standing in the middle of the classroom and went on loudly onto her next topic to keep the class entertained.  I think it was something about her next fur coat from her husband.

  Words. Words. Wonderful words.  I've always been a word girl.  I was one of those that enjoyed looking through the dictionary. I loved diagramming sentences in Miss Gentilini's portable classroom at Brookpark Middle School. Every story is just a different combination of 26 letters. Being called nondescript is part of my story.  I remember feeling angry, annoyed, upset over this woman's treatment of me at the beginning of one of our social work classes.   But.  I probably was nondescript to her. I was in my early 20s, shy, a cheechako…s

omeone new to Alaska, and rarely raised my hand or spoke in class.  As were many in my social work classes, she was an older, returning student who already had a career, a life.  I often wondered what kind of social worker she was going to be.

  I've always been shy and awkward. In high school I used to think that there was always just the right thing to say but I never knew what that was. It probably came from reading too many romance novels and being in love with the idea of being in love.  Part of my journey as an educator has been finding my voice. Once I found my voice, I worked hard on making it louder.  Recently I've been working on sharing it in my writings and on my podcast. Currently as a woman in her early 50s who has struggled with insecurities and negative self-talk for most of her life, I am thankful I can now say I am a lot of things.  I am still awkward, although not nearly as much. (my apologies to the hotel manager maintenance guy a few weekends back! nothing personal!)  I am still shy.  Sometimes in big groups I don't speak up or share my ideas. I am an introvert.  It takes a lot of energy for me to do the things that I do even though I love it.  I have to be prepared. Many times, I have not gone into a store or a place because there are more people there than I expected and was not ready.

In Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth by Eric Carle many animals in the jungle questioned the sloth as to why he is the way he is. They ask him why he is slow, quiet, boring, and lazy.   He responds with a list of traits he may be…slow, lackadaisical, languid, boring, impassive, sluggish…and slothful!   But he says he may be all those things, but he is not lazy.

I've had many people come into my life, men and women, to encourage me, challenge me, make me a better person and as always, those words speak to my soul.  I can describe myself as many things …. lifelong learner, passionately curious, fun loving, gullible, ridiculous, compassionate, easy to scare, goofy, awkward, introverted, and sometimes maybe vibrant. But.  I am not nondescript.

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