The Skype window opened and my therapist’s face appeared on my computer screen. My sigh was heavy and deep, and I didn’t know where to begin so I just did. “Kurt, I’m a thirty-one-year-old woman, and I am still dealing with insecurities I thought I silenced years ago,” I said, only giving him half a second to say hello. I was frustrated more than I was anxious because I knew I alone creatively assembled the insecurities in my brain, and I thought being a year and a half into a new decade would have produced rust and cobwebs on the insecurity gears. Yet here they were, packaged neatly underneath high-waisted jeans, a marigold crop top, and Huarache sandals.
When I was young, one of my favorite movies was Troop Beverly Hills. I looked at my mom as the credits rolled, asking her, “Mommy, do groups like that actually exist where you can get patches?” So you can naturally assume that my mom enrolled me in a Brownie Girl Scouts troop as soon as I was old enough. I could only focus on one thing: earning patches. I would flip through the patch book every night, trying to find patches that would be easy for me to earn on my own without the help of an adult. One-by-one, my maw-maw sewed the patches on my little, brown sash. I was proud and would wear my sash to first grade with a huge smile on my cute, round face.
I told the story of my love for patches to my therapist, as he patiently listened knowing I was about to make a point (he’s been listening for SIX years; God bless his soul). “Patches look so different now,” I said with defeat in my voice, “And being 31, I sometimes feel I don’t know where I fit in because I don’t have certain patches i.e. marriage patch, kid patch, own-a-house patch, have-15k-followers patch, own-a-small-business patch, maker patch.” I felt like my little, brown sash of mix-match patches wasn’t good enough. I didn’t dare tell anyone how I felt other than my counselor and a close friend because I was embarrassed for having and feeling those thoughts, especially at 30-something.
A week after the therapy session, I met a new-found friend to walk in 93% humidity around the art museum. She and I connected over our similar empathetic nature, and she was finally able to steal away from her kids and husband for an hour. As we walked, I felt safe to tell her my recent plight with insecurities and how I felt I needed certain patches to be heard or fit in. She spoke with great empathy and said, “Taylor, I am married with two kids, and I sometimes feel I don’t fit in. You will always feel that way. Everyone feels that way.” Daggum, she was so right.
At the end of our light jaunt, I realized that the only person I needed to fit in with was myself. I am who I am. I am 31 years old, and I have a ton of patches. I can provide for myself. My expression wrinkles are lovely and here for the long haul. I have many friends from different backgrounds and of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Even though my insecurities sometimes tell me I’m not, I am very secure in who I am as a person. I am a dog mom who over loves her dog at times. I can grow beautiful flowers and vegetables from seed. I have travelled the world. But my favorite patch is the one that reminds you that I am always your number one fan. My patches may look different than others, but that's the fun part. We can all get together and talk about our unique patches, how we got them, what they mean, how long we’ve had them, etc. As women (and men), we can guide each other, learn from each other, and remind each other that our patches aren’t all what they seem.