May 26, 2011

A Wonderful Feeling

Today, my grandparents got back from their winter in Florida, so, of course, they had to come over for dinner. Mom made something yummy, and Grandma found a way to make a dessert that Mom wouldn't object to.

My grandparents, having been in Florida, naturally had not yet seen my prom ensemble. So I left when we were about halfway through washing up to zip myself in and slide (or, erm, wrestle) on my shoes. I love the way the dress feels when I put it on---just the right weight, just enough give in all the right places, the perfect shade of purple. And it's soft on me, and light, unlike the layers I've been piling on for lab every day.

I went into the kitchen and did my best imitation of a model's strut. I stood still and twirled while they preened, Papa being his typically skeevy self and Grandma being nothing but kind. It was nice to be preened over, nice to be the center of attention. When I was, at length, dismissed, I went upstairs rather than back to my room---the closest full-length mirror to my room (discounting my younger sister's, which is small enough that I can't see my entire person in it) is in the exercise room upstairs.

I clacked up the stairs, and I stood on the rubberized mats, and I looked at myself, and I was beautiful. That's how I looked to me, anyways. The right balance between legs and curves, the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, the somewhat glowy smile---perhaps I wasn't wearing glasses, so I couldn't see the flaws, but, in that mirror, I was as sexy as sexy could be. I looked at myself and I saw that ugly duckling daydream, of the great nerd---who is really only nerdy because of her glasses and involuntary participation in some variant of Quiz Bowl---showing up at prom and being suddenly beautiful, suddenly breathtaking, and leaving them all in awe. It's ridiculous, I know, but I felt like I could be Taylor Swift at the end of that cheesy, cheesy music video.

And I didn't care. Seriously. I was more excited about getting into Harvard than I was about this---which is saying something, since the only reason I was even glad I got in was that it meant that Bryant hadn't fared any better than me. I looked at myself, and I could see the dream existing, that little thought in the back of my nerdy mind that I was the belle of some imaginary ball, and I didn't care.

I liked the way I looked, sure. I hopefully will still like it once I get through the actual event (with any luck, it'll be enough to allow me to survive prolonged contact with Peter's mother). But it paled in comparison to my academic accomplishments. RSI, MIT, April 30th, Thiel, even last night's High Honors dinner, was worth more to me than the discovery that someone pretty lurked underneath my cargo shorts. What matters to me is exactly what I have.

It's a triumphant feeling, somehow. I'm not at all certain that I'm expressing it properly, though maybe it doesn't matter. I feel, to use something Meg Cabot liked to have Mia worry about in those Princess Diaries books (the books, mind, not the movies), self-actualized. I'm not sure Mia ever realized what it was---or maybe she did, and I wasn't old enough to appreciate it, so I've forgotten whatever life lesson she picked up---but it was something about knowing who one is and being excited about it. And being an adult, or mature. But I think it was understanding of oneself and satisfaction in that understanding. And right now, I feel like I get it.

It's a wonderful feeling.