Wow, she looks unbelievable in that handkerchief!

This week was a hectic whirlwind surrounding my niece’s graduation and prom. It was emotional and exciting, full of smiles and tears, pride and family, exhaustion and a little bit of envy. Watching young people just starting out is always a mixed bag. I’m so very proud of the young women my three nieces are becoming and I couldn’t love them more or ever wish them less than the moon and the stars, but…am I a little envious of the whole life they have in front of them? Do I look back and wish that I had been as courageous, adventurous, confident and comfortable in my own skin as all of the young men and women starting the next chapter in their life seem to be? There was a young woman in the bleachers watching her older brother graduate. She must have been 16 or so. And she was wearing a little halter dress. No, more of a halter handkerchief. She was stunning. The most beautiful part? Not the fact that she was tall and thin and had perfect tan skin. It was the complete effortlessness with which she wore this handkerchief. Like she got up, threw it on and went on with her stunning, effortless day. All I could think of was how I would lie awake at night and plan what I was going to wear to cover up my bulging middle and what shoes would hide my bunions and be comfortable, while reminding the world I was still young and hip. This handkerchief-wearer made me feel old and frumpy. And then I looked around at all of these young people and realized that not all of them, in fact most of them could not effortlessly throw on a handkerchief in the morning and walk out the door. That feeling strong and confident, deserving of the great things ahead and ready to take on the world, even if you were not born a handkerchief-wearer was the real beauty. This is what made them all so stunning. I admire them. They inspire me. I didn’t feel that when I was 16 or 17. Forty years later, I’m still not sure I feel it. But I’m working on it. It’s never too late to embrace your anti-handkerchief.

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Addison, Sydney and Molly Ronis

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