These were the shoes I excitedly told my therapist about when asked if my Spring Break was a happy one. For the first time I went to the mall with a group of friends my parents didn’t suspect to harbor corrupting ideologies, nor exhibit improper behaviors. It was the first time I ate at a food court with people other than family, kids my age. It was the first time someone explicitly scolded me for being a tad bit judgmental. One of the girls caught my slight scowl as she told us of her makeout session in some abandoned house. She scowled back. “Don’t give me that look.” I smiled the rest of the day, bought a blouse because I liked how it cloaked the mannequin in the window. My therapist smirked at these shoes, nothing more to say than “Such exciting colors.”

The first time I went to a dance, I wore similar shoes, my shoulders covered by a black cardigan as I walked through school doors in a hot pink strapless dress. My ankles, strapped and pained by the morning’s cross country race, endured the robotic steps to a dance I knew nothing about. My improvisations were laughable, the only semi-creative move I had all too similar to the bend-n’-snap from Legally Blonde. My friends called it The Pen Drop, a proposed strategy to catch the eye of any high school teacher I crushed on. The silly things we fantasize about at fifteen years of age.

The first time I went to a slumber party was the day before turning seventeen. My friend was in a military family, and while they often voiced to me their disagreements with my parents’ insulating practices, they earned my mother’s approval as people who could never be culpable of putting outlandish thoughts into their daughter’s head. Here, an older boy slept in the same room, where we all watched The Butterfly Effect and some film on existentialism he was recently obsessed with. The first time I was told I was with The Wrong Crowd was eighth grade. The girls were bad people, introducing me to shows such as Gilmore Girls and Ivy League universities. It wasn’t the first time that I was told I just wasn’t smart enough for such things. The slumber party was a nice reprieve from the social hiatus (or grounding) that followed from those middle school friendships.

Come to think of it, the last time I felt accepted was at age seventeen. Still I had my self esteem and a confidence to help me prove to myself that I’m not as dull as was consistently told. But over time the disassociation got worse, the static of disconnect crackling as I try to do simple things, like ordering a pizza by phone. Maybe, more specifically, I haven’t accepted myself. Not in a long while.

Many firsts to follow. Getting better comes first.