By: Lime Green Giraffe Copy Editor, Lillabeth B.

It is so surreal to me that I am writing this. Right now, it is the middle of September, and I cannot believe that I am writing an article for my last issue of the Lime Green Giraffe. I joined the LGG at a transition point in my life. I was old enough that I can remember life before LGG but young enough that I cannot quite picture my life without this group of girls. My time on the LGG staff has been a period of coming of age, cheesy as it sounds. When I first joined, I was a middle schooler nearing the end of sixth grade and beginning the process of leaving childhood behind and taking on the treacherous trek of adolescence. I had this thrilling sense of creative excitement, a childlike giddiness about every new idea and opportunity. I was naive, full of imagination, free of insecurity and self-doubt.

Just as my time on the LGG staff began, I turned the page on a new chapter of my life. As seventh grade began, I was constantly questioning myself--my intelligence, my talent, my likability, my worth--and continued to do so for the next two years. Throughout that time, LGG became a sanctuary of fun, supportive, dorky, creative girls who I could relate to. There is something so powerful about a group of young women creating art together, growing into themselves together. They made me feel like I was not alone. Sure, I was weird, and I did not fit neatly into any of my school’s cliques. That was okay. In LGG, the things that made me different were the things that made me fun to be around, that made my perspective as a writer more interesting. The older girls acted as mentors to me and set examples of many different ways I could be a woman with grace, intelligence, and confidence.

LGG was full of chances to express myself, but it also provided me with my first formal leadership roles. I joined the leadership team as the Social Director in my second year on the staff. I had to set aside my shy, introverted tendencies and lead games with the models at our photoshoots, girls who I had never met with different ages and backgrounds from mine. I was very intimidated, but the experience pushed me out of my comfort zone. I discovered a love for interacting with others and making feel at home which I have continued to explore.

A year later, I became co-Event Director with Emily B., and our partnership was a match made in heaven. We balanced each other, her with her unbridled creativity and me with my pragmatic implementation. We planned the annual writers’ workshop together, and I stretched my leadership skills even further. I remember being so proud on the day of the event, as all of our hard work came together. I had proven to myself what I was capable of.

In high school, I felt pressured to choose a career, to get good grades, to be special, to become an adult. These expectations were stifling, closing in on me from every angle. At the same time, I felt an internal pressure to become someone new. I think it is called maturity. In retrospect, I was wrestling with the fact that the labels I had placed on myself--nerdy, quirky, fangirl--were no longer serving me. Labels had been hiding places that made me feel safe, feel like I fit into something. Now, they were prison cell bars that kept me from growing into the person I needed to become.

Overwhelmed, I started to distance myself from the LGG. To write, one must have a point of view, and I found that I did not know what mine was anymore. It was a tricky time for me, and I had to deal with internalized negative self-talk and a poor self-image. If I have learned anything, it is that this self-evaluation is a constant and never-ending process. I find excitement in stretching myself and exploring myself to discover who I am and who I want to be.

Right before the beginning of my junior year, I had a bit of a revelation. (Read my essay “Everything Changed When I Turned Sixteen” to hear more about this!) After a one-year hiatus from the leadership team, I became Co-Copy Editor of the LGG with the wonderful Joyce S., and it was one of the best decisions I have made. I was pulled back into the loving sisterhood of LGGers, and I wondered why I had ever left.

This time, I have found the comfort and empowerment that I had been missing in this group of girls, though we have changed a lot since I first joined. I have reconnected with old friends taken advantage of my leadership role in new ways. I am so proud of all the LGG’s evolution, and I hope that I was able to contribute. I cannot emphasize enough how pivotal this female collective of brilliant, uplifting women has been to my own growth. I am so sad to see it go, but I have faith that I am prepared for the bigger and better things that I will be taking on because of these incredible girls. 

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