Middle school is arguably the most awkward time in anyone’s life. You’re no longer a child, but you’re also not a teenager or adult. Puberty has graced you with its presence, and navigating your identity is a daily struggle.
A 7th grader from Arizona is being praised this week for shedding some honest light on what goes through the mind of a 12-year-old girl.
Olivia Vella was assigned the project of creating a slam poem about something she was passionate about. Her performance, “Why Am I Not Good Enough,” became a rally cry across the Internet after her raw and honest words resonated with people far beyond her classroom walls.
“One. Take a shower. You don’t want to smell.
Two. Pick out an outfit that will fit in with the latest trends, and won’t make you the laughing-stock of the school—more than you already are.
Three. Put on some makeup so you can actually show your face in public and be a little bit pretty.”
Olivia broke down the inner struggles of what it’s like to be a girl in this world with just 12 steps. Twelve negatively fueled conversations with yourself that start at a young age—and for many women, don’t ever stop running through our heads.
They say the loudest voice in your head is the one you listen to the most—and more often than not, that voice is yours.
“You can’t even recognize yourself, and your face tingles with an unbelievable itch you can’t satisfy, otherwise you will have ruined the hours of meticulous painting you applied to your hideous face.”
She continues her slam, referencing the must-have “elegant curls” and painful Converse you have to squeeze your feet into, because “you cannot be the odd one out.”
“As you gaze into the bathroom mirror, you see a stranger that somehow stole your reflection and replaced it with a completely different girl…why am I not good enough?”
Olivia emotionally divulges the peer pressures of hanging out with the “popular” crowd—knowing full-well that it isn’t leading to life-giving relationships, or the kind of friendships that will help you find yourself.
“You are in the stocks as people throw judging tomatoes and hating-heads of lettuce at your insecure little head. You cannot stand up for yourself because you are alone, trapped and defenseless.”
My heart breaks hearing her words—seeing this beautiful 12-year-old girl on the screen in front of me, thinking how much she doesn’t even realize how wonderful she is. Like the millions of other people who have listened to Olivia’s words, my heart breaks for her, but my heart also breaks because her words are my own. The Bible says we are perfectly and wonderfully made. But so many of us live our lives believing that we are not “good enough.”
“You take each comment, each judgment, each assumption, each opinion, each strange look, each remark, each criticism, each review, each report, each assessment, and with it your self-esteem plummets like a sinking ship,” Olivia continues. “Why am I not good enough?”
After breaking down the desire to exceed academic expectations while keeping nicknames like “nerd, brainiac and human calculator” at bay, and unwinding at the end of the day only to realize how much you legitimately hate yourself, Olivia admits, “This is my life every day. I can’t control it.”
“Going through your middle school years, you are on your own journey to find yourself, on a small jet, and sometimes you cannot control what happens to you. The turbulence will throw you off course.”
Her brilliant words are true for every age and stage of life—we’re constantly on the journey of finding ourselves. She drives the presentation home with a powerful declaration:
“Society is wrong. You are loved. You are precious. You are beautiful. You are talented, You are capable. You are deserving of respect. You are one in 7 billion.
And most of all, you are good enough.”
Olivia’s composure, honesty, transparency and confidence have taken the Internet by storm. Her performance has been viewed more than 24 million times, and the comments are loaded with much-deserved praise for this beautiful young woman who is truly wise beyond her years.
According to Queen Creek Middle School, Olivia’s performance “had several students in tears, shocked and more empathetic than ever.”
This girl is a #WorldChanger. I’m grateful for her reminder today, and I believe it’s one that we all desperately need to hear: You ARE good enough.”
Share her powerful words with someone who needs this reminder too!!