When I was little I internalized a lot. I’m sure we all do. It’s human nature to take things people say to heart or to even read between the lines and perceive what they may really think or feel about you.
When I was about 9 or 10 I remember running in gym class. We must have been playing some sort of game or sprinting or something. The gym teacher began to laugh at me. It was an innocent laugh, followed by a “Julie, you just aren’t a natural runner, now are you?” I heard that again in junior high when I tried out for track and field. The coach said something very similar. It continued into high school as well.
I don’t remember being particularly hurt by the comment. I didn’t cry or even care that I wasn’t “a runner.” I just absorbed the statement and assumed it to be true. All through middle and high school I’d shy away from activities that involved running. In high school, I often was late for volleyball practice because I knew the first few minutes was running laps around the gym for warm up. But I did it when I had to. But I could play volleyball.
I would love to run now. That is one of my goals since weight loss surgery. I still can’t run. I jog a little. My left knee is still horrible. With no cushioning in the joint, it makes me want to stay away from running. But……
Anyway, moving forward a few years past school years. During college, I really loved working with kids. I thought being a teacher would be amazing. So my freshman year, strangely enough, we had the chance to be placed into a classroom at the local school to just observe. The first few days was great. Then the teacher asked us to help teach. That is when it all fell apart. The particular teacher I was with told me after school that she didn’t think I was cut out to be a teacher. Mostly because I didn’t have the heart to take control of the classroom. I didn’t have “it”. Not sure what “it” was…..I felt defeated to say the least. Going back to my classes at college and having my professor giving me a C in the class was just as discouraging. Now what? I am still wondering.
The next trip down memory lane isn’t really a specific moment more like a sprinkling of one particular statement I heard throughout my teens and 20’s. It is one remark that makes my blood boil. Not that this phrase was uttered to me but that this phrase even exists in my collective consciousness.
It’s the dreaded “You’d be so pretty if…” statement. You know the one, right? Tack on any “if” at the end but it mostly involves losing weight or being at a particular size. I heard it in many forms growing up from a whole host of different people. Peers, adults, bosses. The one that sticks in my mind the most happened when I was working at summer camp just after my sophomore year in college. I fell hard for another counselor. He was amazingly fun and a great “christian” guy. But he shot me down with the, “You’d be such a great girl if……” OMG…are you kidding. This is a Christian camp! Broke my heart. I just worked 2 1/2 months with this guy. Got very close to him and most of the other counselors just have have this happen. I wondered if all the other counselors felt the same way…..
I remember wearing swimsuits and raggy shorts and t-shirts (just like everyone else). I recently lost a few pounds (it was the summertime, always a consistent dip in the scale as per my yo-yo dieting cycle) I felt like a million bucks! I did my hair, wearing my staff shirt on that last day, walking confidently as we all were getting ready to leave to head back home or to college. I, of course, laughed it off. Now I could give a shit, but that’s much easier to say and mean at 43 then it was at 20.
Let’s do one more memory for humor’s sake. At least I find it humorous. Sophomore year of college was an exciting time for me. Still away from home. I was smelling the air of independence I longed after for so long. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I was in the right place.
The year was 1989. Computers were starting to become abundant but college was my first experience using one. We didn’t have the means growing up for our own and my small town school was proud to have the 10-12 word processors for it’s computer processing classes.
Regardless, one of the first classes I took that year was Creative Writing. I was stoked as my teacher was super cool. He embodied everything I thought a college professor should be. He was older, wiser, and very articulate. I really looked up to him. One day, in his office, I brought my little 3.5 inch floppy disk with my latest paper saved on it for a critique (terrified, I should add). I go to put the disk in and it wouldn’t fit. It’s upside down! Now remember, this really is one of my first interactions with a computer. He gives me a little jibe of , “wow, you really are computer illiterate, aren’t you?” I immediately agree and declare myself and techno idiot. Telling him I have no idea how to use a computer. I agree, I must be “technologically challenged” as he put it.
I don’t think my professor’s intention was to define me as a technology idiot but I wonder; If that was told to me when I was just a little younger and more impressionable would I have shied away from technology to the point of me avoiding it completely. And where would I be now if so?
My goal with this post isn’t to sling blame at people in my past for things I did or did not do in my life. It’s more about self discovery, confidence and spreading a message of self-esteem. Have you ever thought about how you define yourselves and possibly how you came to those conclusions. Do we live to others expectations of ourselves no matter if they are negative or positive. How much do other’s innocent words affect our choices and confidence.
I still have been doing some internalizing. Things my young nearly 10 year old daughter yells at me, those internal tapes have found their way back into my head. Forward and rewinding over and over. It’s been really hard to combat all those negative messages. My goal this week is to combat those negative thoughts. Either by doing something physical or creative. I gotta get out there again.
Just something I’ve been pondering lately. Please excuse the extra long wordy post. I felt like writing. 🙂