Victoria McGovern in Charlottesville, Virginia, on her avenue and the beginning of After This Avenue.
Victoria McGovern in Charlottesville, Virginia, on her avenue and the beginning of After This Avenue.

While I was a little girl I used to spend most of my time thinking.  My thoughts were usually about contemplating the meaning of life, the vastness of outer space, what growing up must be like, and getting out of school so I could finally ride my bike. It came easy for me to think of myself as the “Ugly Duckling” from the storybook.  You, know… The one who would one day transform into a beautiful swan.  Early on, I was bullied and tormented over my looks by the other children my age.

 “my face was too flat”, “my clothes were hideous and didn't match”, “I was soooo ugly” and “my parent’s were soooo poor”, was pretty much most of what I would hear.

Once I would get home from school, it was not uncommon for me to lock myself in the bathroom and fixate on my face and body in the mirror.  I would jump up on the vanity counter, open the mirror to the medicine cabinet as far as I could, all the way until I could see myself looking down what appeared to be a very long mirrored hallway. I would look as far as I could see and pick an image of myself out of the hundreds and wonder what another me must be like.

“Was she prettier?" “Did she have more friends?”“Was she kind?”“Did she love music?”“Did her parents make a ton of money?”“Was she smarter in school?”“Did she have nicer clothes?”“Was her life a lot better than mine?”

As I grew up, as I am sure you have dealt with in your own life — people managed to get crueler and the thoughts cut a whole lot deeper.  As a result, I have spent most of my life wishing I was someone else.  Wishing I was anyone, but myself.  As if being someone else would give me the talent I needed to finally succeed.

Why is it so impossible to believe that we can succeed all on our own?  Why is it almost impossible to believe sometimes, that we were also born with our own set of talents and our own unique purpose?  We are given this one life and I have spent a good amount of mine wishing to be more like somebody else, anybody else.

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When I was about 11 years old my family and I took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, and when we arrived I felt like I was coming home for the first time.  Since I turned 18, I have spent years saying:

“One day I will move to Virginia.”“I wish I could move to Virginia.”“I will move to Virginia when I have the money.”“When I have kids I will move to Virginia, because it will finally be time to settle down and raise a family”.

Year after year, and excuse after excuse…

I finally went back to visit Virginia, this year after the holidays — I fell in love all over again!  It was there, I realized I had abandoned my fears, my doubts, and my insecurities.  I learned that I needed nature to survive and to feel like I was actually living — not just existing.  I do not fit the typical mold of society, nor am I meant to, I have to much to look forward to, and that alone is reason enough to celebrate being me.

The many paths I have taken in life, have finally led me to choose to be myself.  To choose to find my talents, my passions, my dreams, my desires, and to follow them — chase them into the unknown! I choose to spend my days helping others do the same, all while celebrating their stories and lives along the way.

I greatly appreciate where have been on my journey thus far, and I still have many more places to go.  As long as I am alive I have a purpose to fulfill.  My empathy and my compassion are my greatest gifts.  They are my greatest passions.  People like to say things like: “Do what you love in life and the rest will follow.”  Well, I love people and I love their stories.  I love writing and I love that when we are gone, our stories are the pieces of us that have the possibility of living on forever.  My journey continues here, and hopefully by this time next year, life will lead to a quaint little town, with a quaint little view, in the most beautiful state — Virginia.

The Richmond International Raceway LOVE Works in Virginia.
The Richmond International Raceway LOVE Works in Virginia.

A tumbleweed soul, with the heart of an oak. Growing roots in Richmond, Virginia.