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Essay: Good Posture

“Stand up straight,” my mother reminded me almost every day during my teen years. I knew she was right about the value of good posture but as soon as I was out of her sight, I would slump again — letting my shoulders curve forward into a protective slouch.

Because slouching made me feel invisible, made me feel safe. I knew that standing up straight wasn’t just about good posture. It was about being self-confident.

Instead, I was self-conscious — painfully aware of being too skinny and too shy. I didn’t like the shape of my nose or the braces on my teeth. Didn’t like much of anything about myself — so why would I want to be visible?

I studied the girls who stood up straight, who had confidence. What was their secret? They weren’t necessarily beautiful or smart; they just believed they had a right to be seen, to have a body, have a self.

Then, in my senior year, I was asked to coordinate a class project — which terrified me. But I said yes and it turned out well, really well. And suddenly I could stand up straight without being reminded.

Because I had learned something about myself, earned something for myself: Confidence.

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.