A few things I’ve learned about myself over the past few years:
I lived my life for someone else.
I lived by their rules, not my own.
This is no way to live.
I cried when I realized these facts about myself.
I have lots of regrets about the things I didn’t do. Those regrets are mostly because I listened to the wrong people. They told me my dreams were impossible; that I wouldn’t survive in the world I wanted to create. Because of those words, I didn’t pursue anything that made me happy. I never wanted to be a disappointment. I didn’t want to hear “I told you so” if I failed. I let all those dreams fall to the wayside. I let that whole piece of me die. I lived someone else’s dream and, if you asked them, they’d probably tell you I wasn’t very good at it.
I grew up thinking I was never enough. Everyone loved my writing, but it was all I had. I was told I was pretty, but then told my friends were prettier. I was always curvy, but taught to hide those and be embarrassed by them. While in one ear I was hearing I could be anything I wanted to be, the other was hearing my dreams were stupid. I was just a silly girl who excelled in English and History, but hated Math so I must not be so smart after all. When I learned to straighten my hair, I was shown a picture of Claudia Schiffer on the cover of a magazine. She had curls in her hair. I was told, “You used to have nice hair like that”.
I was never flat out told “you’re not good enough”, but it was implied.
As a girl, I was expected to be quiet, pretty, and to know my place. Get good grades, but know you’re never going to the college of your choice if it’s out of state because you can’t leave the family. I was once told to “act like a lady, but think like a man”. In a sense, I was taught that men were better than me. That’s a really screwed up thing to teach a child (and yes, I just had to edit myself because I really did want to swear, but I’m not comfortable swearing in print. Out loud, yes, but not in writing. Little quirks that I have. I have many so let’s just accept them and move on).
I was fearful of everything. I had always wanted to travel alone, but my mind told me that the world was a dangerous place for me. I was groomed to think I could never do it on my own. My thoughts and feelings often dismissed.
I learned to be a submissive person; to not stand up for myself. I learned that, as a woman, there were certain things I could never do.
It’s been a slow journey for me, but I’m trekking along.
I now know I am not that scared little girl; I never was. A strong person has always been inside of me, screaming to get out. I would often find myself taking crap for years and then suddenly I would explode; every feeling and thought would come spewing out of mouth. It wasn’t healthy nor pretty, but that was her. That was the girl who was desperately trying to live her own life. She was trying to tell me to speak. GET LOUDER! Don’t let them break you!
One final explosion buried that complacent, miserable girl. For good.
I don’t miss her.
I like the person who has emerged in her place. One who speaks her feelings as they come. One who advocates for herself. One who has so many fears, but is putting on a brave face to overcome them.
I am enough for me and I’m the only one who matters. If I’m not enough for you then you can find your way out of my life. I’ll be happier without you. Negative ninnies beware! You have no spot in my life.
While I realize my childhood wasn’t awful, it isn’t a time I would ever go back to either. I like this time much better. I am more me than ever. My life is filled with the people I choose, and I choose them because we have a mutual love and understanding for one another.
Every decade of my life has been improved upon so far. I didn’t love being a child though I have some awesome memories from it. I felt lost in my twenties. In my thirties, my current decade, I’ve grown into my own. I’m comfortable with myself. I know I’m a geek. I know I’m awkward around people. I know that I cry easily. I know I must walk away when I’m angry or I may say something I regret. But more importantly, I know I have a huge heart and that I’m a kind person. I accept all of me. Finally.
I’ve been given this fantastic opportunity to discover and nurture the woman inside of me. Today I make this promise to her: she will never be silenced again. My dreams will begin now; it’s never too late.