Never in my life have I felt more out of place than I did an hour ago.
Currently, I’m celebrating an early Christmas with my in-laws at a ski resort in Utah. They own a timeshare here and invited me to join them on their annual trip to the slopes. I accepted the invitation with enthusiasm; I’d only been to Utah once for a high school speech trip and even them I never ventured into the mountains.
I haven’t seen anyone else who looks like me here either.
The scenery is breathtaking. The mountains take up the entire skyline, coated in a think blanked of pearly snow, dotted with toothpick trees. Sunny, cloudless, with air so crisp you could bite into it. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.
Technically, that isn’t true. I did see three other Black people…working on the property. But I haven’t seen any other Black guests just enjoying their time here.
Definitely not surprising, but absolutely disappointing.
I knew this would happen. I honestly wasn’t even expecting to see the Black employees (and was was pleasantly surprised when I did). But that doesn’t make it any less isolating.
My in-laws are wonderful people, welcoming and supportive. But all their efforts don’t lessen my fears that someone will decide I don’t fit in. I’m terrified people are laughing at me, wondering why the hell this Black girl is here. Asking themselves, “Who brought her? Who does she belong to?”
Have you ever felt like this? Utterly defective, entirely out of place? It is so hard to explain unless you’ve been there. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone. It makes me want to stay in the room, hiding from people who might judge me.
But I won’t hide.
Instead I’ll do my makeup, just enough to make my eyes pop and my skin glow. I’ll style my hair so it looks perfect, but still natural. I’ll put on my cutest casual outfit, something that highlights my figure and makes me stand out in the sea of bulky coats and snow pants. I’ll pretend I belong here until I feel like I actually do.
I may feel like an outsider, but I sure as hell won’t show it.
Who knows? I may even start to believe it.