As the end of the semester winds down, a lot of us find ourselves reflecting over what happened over the course of the semester. From memories made, those laugh-until-your-face hurt moments, to maybe even those that you wish you could forget, now is the time a lot of us do that. And I was doing that today as well. After I took my one and only final of the day, I started thinking about this semester, how it all began, and what I thought at the beginning of the semester, compared to what I think now.
The first day I was on campus, I had told myself that I wasn't going to let anyone know that I was any different than any other student on campus. I wasn't going to let them find out I was 26 years old. I wasn't going to let them find out that I am a single mother to two kids. I wasn't going to let them know that my college history of getting to the point where I am now was a rough road. As well, I never thought that I'd make real friends here.....
So what changed? Shortly after the first few weeks, people started coming out of their shell. As did I. I still wasn't able to open up to a lot of people, but there were starting to be cracks in my cover-up and conseal. I met two other students who were moms. One of them confided to me that only a few other people knew. That's when it struck me. Since when is being a mom so bad? Why was I trying to hide my children from this part of my life? When did having children, suddenly seem like the worst thing ever?
As time progressed, I lost my mask that I was so adamant about having the first few weeks of school. I told people I was a mom to two wonderful children named Emma and Luke. After I let them know, they could see that I put them as a top priority in my life. I brought them to a football game, and brought them to trick-or-treat off the street. And these people that I had been going to school with, were treating my kids as an extension of me. They treated my children with the same kind of kindness and respect that they had treated me with.
And suddenly, I felt like a fool for trying to cover up who I am.
I took off the mask, and started being me. Me...Mallory. Mallory with the kids. Mallory with the curly frizzy red hair. Mallory who is 26, but still feels like I belong here. Mallory who has more than her fair share of blonde moments..... And I came to find out, that people still liked the real Mallory, 26 with two kids, and all.
And I have the students to thank for that. Thank you for making me realize that the shell I had put up to "protect" me, was in fact hindering me from my Bethel experience.