I am violently warring for peace. I know this is a paradox, and I'm
rather proud because it is true. Passivity has been a lifelong threat,
laziness a constant lure in my search for identity. This world begs me to succumb to
existing in the image of someone else, it asks only that I slip silently and
blindly into the niche it provides instead of carving my own. I required a
long time to work up courage to fight for the serenity I had glimpsed in hot
summer woods and in lovingly handled books read late until the early
morning. Doubt had established itself in my mind at some early age, when
or why I do not know, and I could trust any person or group more than
myself. Doubt begat fear, and fear gave birth to obscuring myself from the
eyes of the world while I was a child.

Now, I am dedicated to the fight, after over five years of fear and
immobility. I rejected the easiest way out of life, and demanded truth. I
strengthened my body as I strengthened my mind against the attacks I
faced. When I was fifteen I started Tae Kwon Do, the martial arts class that
was offered through my school. I learned more about blocking, kicking,
and punching in the first two weeks of that class than I had known my
entire life. My once powerless body, petite and thin, could knock the wind
out of someone with a well placed punch, and I could kick people taller
than me in the head. So what I could do, I did, and now my friends
instinctively block when they see me grin mischievously in their direction. I
am content to know I have taught them something useful.

Last spring for the third time in a row, I shakily accepted my
teacher's hand as he congratulated me on second place in women's division
sparring. It was a bittersweet triumph, three times now I have lost to the
same girl. She has become an icon for everything I wish to triumph over in
this world. She is beautiful, hair like black silk, impeccable taste in
clothing,makeup like a Renaissance painting, and average when it comes to
everything else. I watch her silently stride into art class on three inch
heels, skirt above her knee, no runs in her stockings, and manicured nails
smoothing invisible wrinkles from he shirt. I look down at myself, one of
my shirt buttons missing, securely replaced with a safety pin, my
comfortable green pants provide freedom of movement if little style, and
my sturdy black shoes have been with me for three years. I hear my voice
laughing almost too loudly, physics notes are sticking out of my
sketchbook, and I am well aware of that I am not average.

I fight this opponent I have created and what she represents not because she
chooses to live her life by the beauty standard, and not because I feel
inferior. We are at war because no one outside of Tae Kwon Do class ever sees
what she is capable of. They don't know that those perfectly moisturized hands
can break through boards or leave your head spinning. No one knows that those
feet captured in three inch heeled prisons can leave you hurting for days,
bruised where you blocked, bruised and bleeding where you failed to. I fight
her because she is a symbol of how I tried to hide myself and my potential.
I'm tired of being afraid of how the world will respond to me, and I war
against the part of myself that would rather just please fashion magazines and
popular concepts. Peace comes from accepting my identity, not from hiding it.
I will laugh loudly at outside ideas of who I am supposed to be, kick down the
opposition to my goals, and I will continue to fight until I have my peace.