I was always the shortest. The most petite version in the classroom, in the home, and amongst my peers. In the second grade, I distinctly remember being taunted because of my height. On those days I stretched my neck toward the ceiling, covered my ears, and raised my shoulders high.

Teasing each other was not allowed in my family home, but we did it anyway. Always out of earshot of my parents, but nose to nose with each other. Relentless jabs were thrown regularly, especially among my three brothers. My sister and I often watched from the sidelines, too timid to join in, too afraid to laugh.

I loved to hang out alone with my sister too, but only if she allowed. We were the two girls among a sea of boys entering and exiting the revolving door to our home. But unfortunately, soon I noticed a difference between us. As my sister and I grew, we also grew apart—physically. Soon my sister was standing shoulder to shoulder with my brothers, each and every one of them towering over me. My height had betrayed me again, and as they grew, I seemed to shrink.

And shrink I did.

I always thought I alluded self confidence. Never shy about who I was, what I stood for, and what I did for a living. I’ve had many roles and hats that I’ve worn, some permanently in place and some for a season. Many of my previous roles I had trained for, had models for, or had experience in. I was comfortable. Comfortable as wife, mother, social worker, and friend. My roles fit well, they were worn in, adjusted, and even tailored. But this year I had been given a new hat and it’s tough to wear. And I discovered something new about me, the more powerless I feel, I tend to shrink and when my discomfort looms large, my heart becomes small.

This unwritten chapter in my life requires growth, something I was not able to master as a child. Something that had not happened in years. As I grapple with these newfound feelings, it brings me right back to my childhood stature, which has resulted in feeling a lack of power and control. Some days I feel like fear is capturing me, but soon as I escape it, I am captured by its best friend doubt. And soon as I get away from doubt, insecurity creeps in.

Growth takes effort, and in second grade I knew exactly what to do. I instinctively raised up the part of me that I could and refused to give voice to what didn’t feed my soul. So, I have decided in my adulthood to do the same. Raise up and nurse what I want to see in myself. I now declare over myself daily the vision that lives inside of me.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I remind myself of one of my greatest strengths.

I am capable.

I am capable.

I am capable.

I remind myself that I can do all things.

I Am.

I Am.

I Am.

I never thought I would have to explore a new way of seeing myself. A new way of navigating my uncertainties. A new way to stretch myself gently, one muscle at a time. I know that I am building something new in me and the growing pains are real—and so is the vulnerability. But, in this season in my life, I have decided to commit to the most uncomfortable path before me. Growth is now my non-negotiable. That way I know that in the face of my fear and doubt, I chose to lean into something greater. Myself.