I felt the heat creeping up my face. I had never relished speaking in front of others; preferring, intead, to hole up in a safe corner and observe. But all eyes were on me so I cleared my throat and smoothed my skirt. As I slowly rose out of my seat, I saw something surprising in these women's eyes. Where I had expected to see judgemental stares and even hatred, I saw compassion and kindness.
Why had I expected otherwise? Why had I spent the last half-hour weighing these women and looking for flaws? Why had I compared my size to theirs and contrasted complexions and shoes instead of listening to their stories?
I had been so prideful, so hesitant to even show up. But as I looked around the room, I was suddenly struck by the beauty before me. These women, who the world had shunned, who were told that they had no worth- they were radiant. I felt myself relax and felt a physical release from expectation. These women would be my teachers.