I am 36 years old and still am effected by 7th grade. That was the worst one I think, but they all were bad. I remember feeling different in 2nd grade when already my classmates were separating into groups based on name brand clothes. I was shy and mousey and had no sense of fashion or style. I had bad hair cuts and hand me down clothes. I really can not say that other’s made me feel this way or if it was just me feeling “less than” but I think there must have been some outside incidents that made me feel like a “nerd” because how would I have come up with that on my own?
I was not the smartest kid, nor was I athletic or artsy. I did not act or sing or have amazing sleep overs or parities. I was just me. And I just wanted to fit in. Even in my group of friends (dubbed the “nerd herd” by classmates) I was pretty lame. Lots of my friends were very smart or musical. I truly was mediocre all the way. I was always a year behind on fashion. I would notice what people would wear and then get it the next year’s back to school shopping trip. Only to realize people had moved on to something else.
What is interesting is that now, as an adult, talking to classmates who I considered “popular” they seemed to be just as unhappy as I was, but I thought they had it all together. Because they were beautiful and trendy.
What I am getting at here, is that at 36, a happily married mother of 2, with a Master’s degree a fabulous job and a world traveler, I am still that 7th grader at heart. I can speak for 8 hours in front of 100 people, but I am still terrified that they are going to notice my pimple. Or that I am not as trendy as I should be. I am afraid they are going to see straight into my anxious soul and find that 7th grader inside. I agonize every morning over outfits and hair and make up. I spend more money that I have on improving these things only to find that I am still not happy.
I am desperate to be liked, to be accepted. I feel that I always have to prove myself. Each day I wake up and wonder if I will be “found out”.
So all this is to say the following. Yesterday a student of mine pulled me aside at break. She is a beauty, flawless, trendy, smart… She said “You look so nice tonight. I see you standing in class and you fold your arms across your chest and hunch over and hide yourself. You should stand up tall, be proud of who you are!” I immediately thought about the same thing a co-worker said to me. “Stand up straight and be proud of who you are”!
Who would have thought that this would be the hardest thing for me to do. Just standing up straight. It must be such an instinct to try to slouch into myself. To physically hide behind my crossed arms and hunched shoulders.
I wonder if I will always struggle with this. If middle and high school was so traumatic that I may never fully get over it or if it is just my personality to be insecure. Maybe a bit of both? I wonder if I will ever stop caring what other people think of me. I wonder if I will ever see myself as I truly am not in some distorted view. I wonder if we all feel this way…