11 and a half years old.
I catch the summery smell of the freshly cut grass, the chalky dirt and the tangy, sticky, tropical scent of an icy pole, freshly spat at me through the basketball court wire fence.
As the insults splash down onto my shoes like the sugary syrup, I wonder to myself… why am I like this? Why am I different?
Well, as far as I know… I’m #JustMe
You’re gay! You’re a girl! You like boys, don’t you? Insults that came very easily to other 11-year-olds who had no idea in 20 years’ time they’d look into their own children’s eyes and swallow a lump before tracking me down on social media to apologise for their behaviour.
35 years old.
I feel the warmth of a spotlight on my face. My eye catches the sparkle of the sequin on my jacket, bouncing around, mimicking the butterflies in my stomach.
My gaze meets that of the Hollywood star I’m about to interview and the happiness erupts out of me as I realise, I’m doing what I always dreamt of doing.
It doesn’t take a special outfit or remarkable skills. I’m in this situation because I embraced what it means to be #JustMe.
I look to my left, I see a beautiful woman with a smile that makes me feel like I’m being hugged by my Mum. I look to the right and see a man with sparkly eyes that shine like glossy buttons.
Are they gay, straight, transgender, cisgender or non-binary? Are they ‘normal’? It doesn’t matter. We’ve redefined what normal is and we’re it.
We can be whoever and whatever we want. While we’re shaped by what has transpired before us, our future is not defined by it.
You don’t have to fit a certain stereotype or give yourself a label. You just need to feel comfortable in your own skin. You just need to be able to look yourself in the eye and say, I’m #JustMe.
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The #JustMe movement is a tool that can be used by all. If you or someone you know is struggling with how they want to present themselves to the world, the #JustMe hashtag is a living, moving, evolving online diary where we can leave our moments and our memories. It’s a place we can come to, to find inspiration and in turn, leave it for others.