My First Period? Mixed Up Feelings

Did I just become a woman?

It was the fall of seventh grade when one night after dinner I went to the bathroom and proudly looked down to blood streaked urine. I wasn’t surprised- my mom and older sister had equipped me with the knowledge that along with the arrival of soft underarm hair and the puffing of my nipples, so too would come my first period. 

13 years old, a wad of toilet paper shoved into my underwear, I stood in the kitchen declaring my newly appointed womanhood status to my family. My mom and sister embraced me into their arms and their collective knowing. My dad's eyes filled with tears. I felt excited, embarrassed, and part of something bigger.

The following day at school I penguin walked through the hallways due to a poorly inserted tampon. I convinced myself that my peers could notice the shift in my strut. Feeling exposed, I wanted to rescind my previous declarations. My eyes felt hot. I was equipped with the knowing that I would bleed, that I would change physically. I was not equipped to balance the feeling of both loss and celebration in one breath for all of the changes here and the ones to come.