Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Already Taken
Yvette Greene stole my eyeglasses when I was in the fourth grade (her name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).
I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine years old. The teacher told my mother I was squinting to see the blackboard, so my mother took me to the eye doctor on Fordham Road in the Bronx to get them checked out. Sure enough, I was extremely nearsighted in my left eye and a bit nearsighted in my right. I was given the privilege to choose the frames I wanted for my glasses – and I chose a pair of light blue cat-eyeglasses; I guess we’d call them retro today – pointed at the top edges with silvery accents right at the tips. They gave me an eyeglass case, and my mother printed my name and address on the inside flap with a black magic marker. I was told I didn’t have to wear them all the time if I didn’t want to – but that I should definitely wear them to see the blackboard in class so as not to strain my eyes.
I was soooo proud the next day when I got to class and showed my eyeglass case to Yvette, who sat next to me in Mrs. Gold’s class. I popped open the little snap on the front of the case, and with so much flourish it would make Vanna White jealous, I displayed my sparkling brand new glasses inside. I placed them on the bridge of my nose, and was so excited because I could see the blackboard (and everything else) with such clarity! I looked around the room to see who was looking at me, because I just knew I was looking good!
The details of the how it happened and the what the heck happened is fuzzy — somehow I arrived home a few days later without my glasses, the case, the glasses, everything – gone. I would imagine I was nervous about telling my mother they were gone (“I lost my glasses…”), and I can also imagine she wasn’t happy about it, and I was in deep, deep trouble…
But this I do recall: the following day when I arrived at school and walked into my classroom…there was Yvette sitting at our desk with my eyeglasses on her face. I was astounded and bewildered – as I gazed at “Yvette’s glasses” and noted they were just like mine – light blue cat-eyeglasses with silver accents at the tips. Yvette sat there, wearing my glasses and looking around the room to see who was looking at her (even though I’m sure she couldn’t see worth a darn), just like I did when I first showed them off. “How do you like my new glasses?,” she asked me. What did I do? Well, I was a lover, not a fighter, so I said nothing, until I arrived home after school when I told my mother that Yvette had accidentally “borrowed” my glasses.
The next day, my mother went up to the school to report this egregious act of thievery and Yvette was taken to the principal’s office where she was interrogated as she sat in a chair with her hands tied behind her back and water dripping on her forehead until she confessed (not really, but it sounds good and dramatic, doesn’t it?). In the end, my eyeglasses were returned and all was right in my nine-year-old world.
The years have passed and I’ve had Lasix surgery – so no more glasses and I have no idea where Yvette is these days. In looking back at this life event, two things come to mind. First, I suppose my gloating and shoving my eyeglasses under Yvette’s nose probably egged her on to “borrow” my glasses. I guess I should be flattered that she was so impressed by them that she had to try them for herself. After all, as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery! But, I also know that even though she probably thought she looked really cute to everyone in the outside world, actually, she really couldn’t see or focus on a thing while wearing them! They weren’t made for her, they were made for me.
Sometimes you may envy someone else for something they can do, or something they own – so much so that you may decide to “borrow” it. But guess what? Just like Yvette, you’ll find your “focus” is way off and not right at all. You know why? It’s because whatever you’ve decided to try on for size wasn’t made for you, it was made for them. It may look shiny and perfect when they show it to you, or tell you about it, but it looks that way because it’s only for them. Besides, you have no idea what that person had to endure to get where they got. I wore glasses because I couldn’t see clearly past a hand in front of my face. And even if I did look really cute wearing my glasses, Yvette was a “far sight” more privileged because she could see clearly without assistance – I think…
Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” I have learned that when you take the time to explore what’s for you, you’ll feel so much more comfortable in your own skin, doing your own thing. And it can never really be taken from you. What’s for you is for you; and if it’s worth having, it won’t come easy. What you envy has not come easy to the object of your admiration either – you may see that girl on the street who looks just fabulous wearing her glasses, but also remember she probably can’t see who’s waving at her from across the street without them.
Hi, it’s me, Janine Lattimore and I want to inspire and encourage you to #keepgoing! Based in the Atlanta, Georgia area, and among the many other hats I wear, I’m a writer, mother and Editor in Chief for Classy Living Society, a women’s only national community service organization. I’m here to share philosophy, inspiration, humor, a bit of inside info and tidbits I learned along life’s beautiful journey. Welcome!