Chapter X, In Which LK Realizes She is Not The Little Match Girl

While we are in the troves of children’s literature, here’s a story about another tale that I reflect on.

The key reason that my current work transition is so painful is my lifelong struggle with feeling like an outsider. There have been some moments in my life, most notably the college years, that I felt the warm embrace of belonging. So many years later, I was once again feeling it in my administrative role, both from my team and from the kickass boss who offered me the job.

Wait, you might be saying…you are a tenured professor at a large research university…it doesn’t get more insider-y than that! Yes, you have a point. But the I-am-smarter-than-you vibe among the insiders is a hurdle to belonging, even among those of us lucky enough to have employment security. So the quest for belonging continues.

About 10 years ago, I saw a therapist. (Therapist subscribes to this blog. Hi, Dear T!) I told DT that the mental image I had of this outsider-y feeling was from a Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) story, “The Little Match Girl.” Little Match Girl shivers as she stands outside in the cold and looks into a window at warm scene, a family in front of a blazing fire.

I remember telling DT this story because that mental image of looking in at the warm fire was so vivid. But I was fuzzy on the details of the plot. Surely it was a happily-ever-after story? Maybe they invite her in and give her some warm cider? I went home and looked it up. Nope, Little Match Girl dies in the cold. She is reunited in heaven with her grandmother, perhaps some people’s version of a happy ending. But not mine. Fuck that, I am NOT dying in the cold night.

Maybe there are other Hans Christian Andersen stories that I can use as my narrative.

“The Princess and the Pea”? Meddling mother-in-law finds son perfect, delicate wife. NAH!

“Thumbelina”? From Wikipedia: “Thumbelina is about a tiny girl and her adventures with marriage-minded toads, moles, and cockchafers. She successfully avoids their intentions before falling in love with a flower-fairy prince just her size.” Well, when you put it that way…but, NAH!

“The Ugly Duckling”? Assholes underestimate UD — now we are getting somewhere.

“The Emporer’s New Clothes”? Aha. Yes. One person is not afraid to speak the truth about the ridiculous charade. Perfect.

Stay tuned for truth.

4 Comment

  1. SJG says: Reply

    Brilliant! I love the search for representation in the literary world. And your honesty. You’re in my inner circle.

  2. Dear Husband says: Reply

    You belong with me, Dear Wife. For another 33 years, at least. What is a cockchafer? Love you!

  3. Nick S. says: Reply

    Shakespeare referenced it in the quote “The fool thinks himself to be wise, while a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Real knowledge is knowing that there is always something more to learn and that lessons can come from anywhere and anyone! You are an amazing teacher, mentor and role model Laura. Your ability to form connections with your students (like me) and peers is what sets you apart from the rest. CU was made into the amazing institution that it is by people like YOU. “Keep doing you” and the universe will correct all the other stuff 🙂

    1. laurakornish says: Reply

      Thanks, DH, Dear Friend, and Dear Student!
      Thanks for your love and your patience as I process. To those of you who want me to be OK: I want that, too, and it takes as long as it takes.

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