My name is Paige Avinger and I’m from Columbia, South Carolina. I am 39 years old. I come from a “good” home with church-going parents. I’m the oldest of three girls. I became friends with Chaney’s step-dad when we were in high school. I have a degree in English from the College of Charleston and I currently work for the federal government.
None of that tells you who I am, though.
We are all so much greater than the sum of our accomplishments, our family, our history, our surface appearance. We are made up of fears, beliefs, loves, dislikes, scars, and dreams. We are all harboring secrets. There’s a quote I picked up years ago, author forgotten by now, that says “There’s more to each of us than any of us can imagine.” As Whitman says, we contain multitudes.
So, who am I?
I’m someone who’s usually pretty happy, but who has fought depression, anxiety, the urge to control, and fear. I’m someone who’s been bullied and who survived emotional abuse. I’m someone who worries about her weight and body image. I’m someone who still isn’t quite sure who she wants to be when she grows up. I’m someone who has grappled with the questions of her spirituality, sexuality, and social responsibilities. I doubt my abilities and don’t always live up to my potential. I worry. I spend too much money on shoes and makeup. I have good days and bad days. I cry. I yell. I laugh. I’m lazy. I cuss a lot. I’m learning how to love myself. I’m healing. I’m a rebel who sometimes hides under conformity. I’m a fighter who feels cowardly and scared. I’m a daughter, a friend, a girlfriend, a dog mom, a coworker, a member of the LGBTQ community, a shoe fanatic, and a nerd. I’m growing. I’m a member of the human race who tries to be a good person and sometimes fails.
In short: I’m probably pretty much like you.
I struggled with volunteering to write for By Chaney’s Hands because I wasn’t sure if I could meet my own expectations for such an important cause. I know how much this project means to Angel and Tony and the people they are helping. I paused before volunteering because I thought, “Who am I to try to help? I don’t have all of the answers. I’m no better, wiser, or different from the people who will read this.” But then I realized that could be just the thing to make me a good fit: I’m just like you. And I’m on your side. I know what it’s like and I’ve probably been where you are. There are people who understand. There are other people in your situation. There is hope. It can, and it does, get better. It can actually get really, really good.
I humbly present myself, scars, flaws and all.