I am violently warring for peace. I know this is a paradox, and I’m rather proud because it is true. Passivity has been a lifelong threat, laziness a constant lure in my search for identity. This world begs me to succumb to existing in the image of someone else, it asks only that I slip silently and blindly into the niche it provides instead of carving my own. I required a long time to work up courage to fight for the serenity I had glimpsed in hot summer woods and in lovingly handled books read late until the early morning. Doubt had established itself in my mind at some early age, when or why I do not know, and I could trust any person or group more than myself. Doubt begat fear, and fear gave birth to obscuring myself from the eyes of the world while I was a child.
Now, I am dedicated to the fight, after over five years of fear and immobility. I rejected the easiest way out of life, and demanded truth. I strengthened my body as I strengthened my mind against the attacks I faced. When I was fifteen I started Tae Kwon Do, the martial arts class that was offered through my school. I learned more about blocking, kicking, and punching in the first two weeks of that class than I had known my entire life. My once powerless body, petite and thin, could knock the wind out of someone with a well placed punch, and I could kick people taller than me in the head. So what I could do, I did, and now my friends instinctively block when they see me grin mischievously in their direction. I am content to know I have taught them something useful.
Last spring for the third time in a row, I shakily accepted my teacher’s hand as he congratulated me on second place in women’s division sparring. It was a bittersweet triumph, three times now I have lost to the same girl. She has become an icon for everything I wish to triumph over in this world. She is beautiful, hair like black silk, impeccable taste in clothing,makeup like a Renaissance painting, and average when it comes to everything else. I watch her silently stride into art class on three inch heels, skirt above her knee, no runs in her stockings, and manicured nails smoothing invisible wrinkles from he shirt. I look down at myself, one of my shirt buttons missing, securely replaced with a safety pin, my comfortable green pants provide freedom of movement if little style, and my sturdy black shoes have been with me for three years. I hear my voice laughing almost too loudly, physics notes are sticking out of my sketchbook, and I am well aware of that I am not average.
I fight this opponent I have created and what she represents not because she chooses to live her life by the beauty standard, and not because I feel inferior. We are at war because no one outside of Tae Kwon Do class ever sees what she is capable of. They don’t know that those perfectly moisturized hands can break through boards or leave your head spinning. No one knows that those feet captured in three inch heeled prisons can leave you hurting for days, bruised where you blocked, bruised and bleeding where you failed to. I fight her because she is a symbol of how I tried to hide myself and my potential. I’m tired of being afraid of how the world will respond to me, and I war against the part of myself that would rather just please fashion magazines and popular concepts. Peace comes from accepting my identity, not from hiding it. I will laugh loudly at outside ideas of who I am supposed to be, kick down the opposition to my goals, and I will continue to fight until I have my peace.