The Girl in Stripes - My Family Travels
My cousin and I at the Beach
The First Time at the Beach

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege of going on my first, actual vacation. We were going on a road trip all the way to the Gulf of Mexico so my grandmother could see the ocean before she died. So, we packed up my family, all eight of us, including a toddler, and set out. It sounds amazing right? Anyone would be so excited to go and see more of the world. I was terrified. I haven’t worn shorts since I was a young child, I hadn’t worn a bathing suit since some boys made fun of me back in middle school, and I most certainly hadn’t worn any dresses since forever. I was dreading the vacation.


We had to take two cars and I somehow got in the car with the two year old. She was fine most of the time, but, at certain times, she would cry for things that she already had in her hands or throw her favorite baby to the front seat and then demand it. This went on for twelve hours. Twelve hours of “I WANT MY CHOCOLATE MILK! I WANT MY MOMMY!” Needless to say, I was ready to get out of the car when we arrived. I was ready for relaxation and not caring about the world.

We managed to stay at a beach house for our vacation. We arrived at Gulf Shores at about six in the afternoon. The sun hadn’t quite set, so we decided to just go and look at the beach. No harm right? Not get in, but get a pretty view. Well, that didn’t last long. The ocean was so blue and if you looked off into the distance, you could see dolphins jumping as if welcoming us to their home. The sand piled against my toes—a sensation completely new to me. My two cousins and I dived into the ocean looking for shells. We got soaked:  my cousin in her dress, and my other cousin and I in capri’s and t-shirts. But, while finding shells and getting completely soaked, I realized that this was the first time I actually felt carefree. I didn’t care what anyone thought about me, despite the hundred or so people that walked by and stared.  

The next day, we decided to go to the beach—decked out in bathing suits, not pants. I am not the most confident person in the world. Despite yesterday, I didn’t want to go to that beach barely wearing clothing. It’s just too much for me. So, as a compromise, I wore a swimsuit cover-up over my striped  bathing suit. I started by sitting on the beach. I looked out into the ocean, longing to be there, but unwilling to show my skin. But then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the most beautiful girl. She was average height, red hair, and about my size. She walked around in her bathing suit and owned it. She walked with such grace and confidence:   I envied her. But then I thought, why envy her when that could be me? I took off my wrap, and walked down the sandy path between tourists to my cousin waiting for me. Nobody pointed their nose up at me, no one commented on my extra fat, no one said anything. I never felt so good about myself. I truly felt beautiful.

So, the moral of this story is that you shouldn’t deny yourself enjoyment just because of how you look. It took a vacation and seventeen years to learn it, but, no matter what, love yourself. 

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