Inspiration and Borrowed Strength

Welcome back to the Monday Inspirations series. This is the first post of 2016 and on this new site. I’ll be slowly transferring old posts, in the meantime, you can check them out here. Today’s post is written by Kerry E.B. Black.

Inspiration and Borrowed Strength

All my life, I’ve struggled with my own self-image. I’ve been told time and again I’m unimportant. People scoff, saying I’m naïve in my hopes and beliefs, especially when I see the best in people.

As a little girl, I considered everyone a potential friend. I opened my heart and hugged hello’s, welcoming people into my life if they wanted to take part. Some did, and I treasured them. Many did not; instead, a large group targeted me for my sensitivity. They ridiculed and harassed with contradictions.

Every young girl experiences doubts about their looks, and my classmates dredged up every insecurity until I believed myself hideous and unlovable. Worse, I questioned my intelligence and worth, despite evidence to the contrary. My poor mother worked to combat my negative feelings. I hadn’t many friends, because believing myself worthless, I found no reason for others to like me. In a way, the bullies won for a while. Cowed, I kept my nose in literature and away from the society of my peers.

That is, until I peeked up from the books and found myself no longer as affected by their hurtful words and actions. I found role models. To name but a few, Sara Crewe, Dickon, Lucy Pevensie, Anne  Shirley, Nancy Drew, Jane Eyre, Jo March, and comic book heroes became friends from whom I drew strength. I shook my head when a small-minded person threw vocal barbs. I pitied those who felt the need to tear me down when I only wanted to get along.

As time progressed, I forged some wonderful friendships and took chances in my personal life. Lately, though, I find myself back in a place where again my wisdom is questioned daily, my thoughts dismissed. My beauty has fled, and I struggle through sleep-deprivation and worries to find the right words. When I look into my heart, I question my competence as the result of outside influences and my own insecurities. I curl around myself like an armadillo, hoping to protect my delicate, vulnerable underside, and allow my tears to wash my wounded psyche.

My early rescuers were young people, heroes from loved volumes. Although in some ways I remain a child, I now reach for the wisdom of older protagonists to help me through this self-effacing patch. My heart cries out to Jean Valjean, Molly Weasley, Dr. Watson, and Minerva McGonagall. (Yes, I note the irony that two of those mentioned are from a children’s series, but I love them and their examples.)  I need Ms. Marple’s moxie, Elizabeth Bennet’s biting wit, and Atticus Finch’s compassionate intelligence. I hope by their friendship I might borrow some of their might and buoy up my own.

I close this so that I might discover how the brave Charlie Gordon fares, though I fear he mayn’t have a happy outcome. Although I suppose not everyone finds happily ever after in this life, I will remain nervously hopeful.

Kerry E.B. Black noticed middle age popped past without so much as a hello, leaving tale-tell signs in wrinkles and grey hair. Entering the age of the crone will not hold her back, though, and she’ll hope some wisdom might accompany the accumulated years. Born and living in Western Pennsylvania outside of the city of Steel and 450 bridges, Kerry borrows strength where she might and appreciates beauty in the simplest of sights. Please follow at and Twitter @BlackKerryblick

(This essay is an adaptation of a contribution to the “One Year of Letters” project.)

3 thoughts on “Inspiration and Borrowed Strength”

  1. Thank you for this post, Kerry and Ula. I’m sorry, Kerry, that people are questioning your wisdom, as you are clearly wise. And your beauty shines through. There will always be cruelty in the world, but goodness is stronger, and I believe the good people will come out on top. I also find strength in literature that shows the kindness in human nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.