Column: Living life as an Ugly Duckling

‘I always spent life wondering why everyone I cared for didn’t care for me back.’


Artwork by Madison Ward.

A block away from home, I’m reading a book on my phone when an ad for children’s books appears on the screen. It shows an odd baby duck surrounded by other ‘perfect’ ducklings as the cover. Quickly I label it as the Ugly Duckling and decide to make a joke.

“Hey mom, look it’s me,” I laugh.

She glances at the slightly dim screen while gently pressing the brakes arriving at our home. Shaking her head in disapproval, she sighs deeply knowing that I’ve always felt this way.

“You know that’s not true right?” she questions.

Ignoring her, I turn off my phone while hearing yet another deep sigh from my mother. I hear the fumble of the keys as she takes them out of the ignition.

The car engine stops. My mother grabs her pink purse and gets out of the car. Following her, my thoughts start to flow through my mind as I think about being unwanted by people who I always believed loved me. The jingle of my mothers keys break me from my train of thought as she searches for the correct key to the house.

I watch her finally find the lost key when a question slips out.

“Mom, why don’t they love me?” I sigh.

A quick breeze blows the ice cold air making me shiver as I patiently wait for my mothers answer as she inserts the key in the doorknob.

“They do,” my mother said. “We just have to be more involved.”

She walks in leaving the door open for me as I try to think of why my mom believes we aren’t as involved in family events as everyone else, but we are involved as much as everyone else.

Finally, walking into the cold silent house I make my way to my room as my eyes start to get glossy and my vision becomes blurred. I grab the freezing cold metal doorknob and quickly force myself inside.

A tear finally drops from all the painful memories of my ‘loved’ ones and their hard glares that always seem to pierce into the weakest spot of my heart. Leaving my thoughts to run wild.

Thoughts from the back of my mind begin to flow like a broken dam after a heavy storm.

They don’t like how different I am.

I’ll always be outcasted no matter how hard I try to fit in.

Rivers of tears start to flow as I recall the memory of trying to distract myself from the ignorance of my ‘loving’ family by making it seem like I didn’t care for their love.

My back hits the dark wooden door as I slide down to the floor, bringing my warm hands to my tearful eyes.

I’m not technically a part of this family, so why should they care?

The tears soon stop and the numbness overwhelms my body after I’ve drained myself of all my energy.

Reaching for my phone and seeing the ad still open makes a smile appear on my face as I remember the ending to the story.

With all the troubles the Ugly Duckling had to face, he realized he wasn’t ugly as everyone saw him to be. In fact, he was a beautiful swan and I will become my own perception of the beautiful swan the Ugly Duckling became.