“Smile! Chin up! One, two, three, one, two three… I said … CHIN UP!” shrieked the infuriated ballet master. Her icy blue stare glared down at the tight-lipped ballerina; who was staring blankly at the ground.
“Claudia! Are you even listening?! If you can’t even pretend to belong here, you should go!” screamed the stern instructor. The room instantly erupted into laughter and judgement, as Claudia sprang for the door.
As she descended down the long staircase towards the locker room, black mascara streamed down her face. Her tight hair bun was pulled off, and her face was suddenly hidden behind a thick veil of black hair.
As she frantically stuffed her clothes and ballet shoes into her bag, she could still hear voices in the locker room whispering softly, “What is wrong with her? Why does she always have such a temper? She is not a nice person.”
Swinging her bag over her shoulder, she made a dash to catch the next bus home. As she crumpled into her seat, her hair continued to shield her from the other riders. Even though she quickly stuffed her earbuds into her ears, she could still hear voices on the bus murmuring, “Don’t sit so close to Claudia! She doesn’t have any friends. Why does she have such a terrible attitude?!”
Even as she scampered into her home, she heard a voice yell out “Claudia! Why are you home so early? Are you skipping ballet classes again? I wished you were more disciplined!” But when she finally pulled back the curtain of her hair, she realized no one was home yet. The judgement and voices she heard all day, were all…. her own.
Sometimes in life, all we can seem to hear is criticism. No matter where we run or hide, we can’t seem to get away from it. But the alarming truth is that sometimes we hear criticism that isn’t actually there. We can’t seem to escape it, because the harshest critic of all is often the one that is always with us. For the harshest critic is often… ourselves. It is only when we begin to embrace our imperfections and wholly accept ourselves that we are able to pull back the curtain and see that others accept us as well.