What is it? That famous question posed in the 90s, that poor fish flopping out of its bowl
onto the concrete during the video’s piano outro. The mysterious it. What is it? It’s it.
Confidence. Maybe arrogance. The right clothes, the right hair. The right connections.
The aura of being better in some way than anyone who is not it. A secret something that
means you’ll never be in its circle though sometimes you are in its orbit. Successful
women have it. Mean girls have it. Attractive people have it. Girls who grew up being
admired have it. I say girls, but I mean women. Women who should know better, should
know their it has no more value than anyone else’s. Of course, you can’t be in everyone’s
inner circle. But the it women make it obvious that you do not belong—suck up all the air
in a room, cluster together at large gatherings, take over the conversations, let you know
without saying a word that you’re lucky just to be near them. It's alive, afraid, a lie, a sin... a
smile that says you are tolerable, but you are not it. As you get older, it doesn’t disappear.
Every achievement and talent, every bit of inner peace and trust you’ve earned?
Flattened by it. In its presence, you are still that fish, gasping and awkward, trying just
Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016) and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications.Her poetry, fiction, and essay work have appeared in Ploughshares, Cherry Tree, Poet Lore, Salamander, Harpur Palate, Booth, and many others. She lives and creates in the Chicago area and hosts the monthly online reading series A Hundred Pitchers of Honey.