Your childhood affects you but does not define you
When I hit middle school I remember a consistent question I was asked “why are you so quiet?” or “why are you shy?”
In elementary school life was mostly a happy blur. Elementary school days consisted of a never-ending imagination, playing house, tetherball and foursquare during recess, and hours of fun with the neighborhood kids. There was also the best PE games with the little scooter you sit on, the big parachute and double dutch jump rope. I can’t leave out the amazing once a year scholastic book fair. Am I the only one who feels the nostalgia? My point is, for me, elementary school really was mostly sunshine and rainbows, along with sadness over little things that I would get over 2 seconds later. As a teacher and substitute teacher in public schools today, I feel this is changing. I am grateful for that time I had. It was the last time I can really remember not fully caring what others thought of me, and not feeling judged. Middle school, now that was where the tough stuff started.
I actually had a great group of friends in middle school, maybe I was kind of part of the “popular group.” But, honestly, I never felt cool. I was the quiet friend, the one that inside always didn’t feel like I belonged. I am not sure if people really asked me that often “why are you quiet?” But what I do know is that it stuck in my head. Regardless of what I was or wasn’t, I let those words become something I believed about myself and I let it sink deep into me. I do not think anyone meant bad intentions in asking me this or portraying me as shy. I am the one who chose to let those words affect me negatively. I felt like there is something wrong with me. I continually wondered why I couldn’t be that fun, outgoing, bubbly girl that I admired about a lot my friends. I lost any courage I had and sunk deeper into my shell.
This carried with me into High School. High School was by far the most difficult four years, or so I felt at the time. Most of my best friends from middle school went on their own way, it was more of an organic parting than anything really happening. I am also to blame, I didn’t try to maintain those connections. My self doubt was at it lowest. I can say that I had a handful of wonderful friends from high school and a few I am lucky enough to say are still important people to me today. I felt so uncool and awkward. It felt like I was never going to amount to anything. When you are in it, it feels like what happens in High School is what will determine the rest of your life. How different of a perspective I have now in realizing what a small piece of my life that was, but also how impactful what I went through then, has brought me to understanding my true self today. I truly feel for kids now, I can’t imagine how social media escalates navigating that confusing part of our youth.
You are what you think you are
People called me quiet and shy so I called myself that. It’s what I believed, it’s how I portrayed myself in my mind. Its not just that I called myself that but what really had the impact is that I talked down on myself for it. I didn’t see any of the positives I now see today in the person that I am. I didn’t understand that sometimes being able to think before you speak is a blessing. I didn’t realize that listening, rather than always wanting to respond, is a great asset as a friend. I was blind to the benefit of spending time with yourself, that it can be healing. I only allowed myself to see how it was negative, that I was boring, I wasn’t fun or funny. That because of my shyness no boy would like me and I would not be able to keep friends. In hindsight I realize how silly those thoughts were. At the time they really stung, without realizing that I was the one stinging myself.
Don’t put yourself in a box
If you have facebook you probably see all those quizzes or articles that try to tell you exactly what or who you are and fit you into one category or personality type. You are told you are either an introvert, extrovert and who knows what else. Take those for the fun of it, sure, I have done it, but don’t take them too seriously. Every single person is unique, you don’t need to be categorized. This is how I feel about horoscopes. I enjoy learning about zodiac signs and I do think that, to a degree, they may help us understand what people we mesh well with and certain aspects may be relatable, but don’t get caught up in believing that has to be you to a T. Only you can determine who and what you are, its up to you to uncover your true self. Don’t be afraid to explore a relationship with someone just because your star signs tells you, you only have a 7% chance with them. Each person has control of their own life, actions & how they respond to things. Start believing that about yourself as well.
When I finally stopped putting myself into a box, is when I finally started to realize who I, Courtney, really was. Yes I am more introverted, I like time to myself. I am happy to be on my own. I need and crave that alone time. I go crazy if I am constantly around people. But, I also love people. I love making connections, learning about people, especially those from different walks of life. I have a very deep care for others. I am not afraid to talk to someone. Just because I listen more than I speak, does not mean that I don’t have a voice. It doesn’t mean that I am a pushover. It means I am more of a thinker, it means that I save my deep feelings to those most special to me and that I don’t like confrontation or drama.
And guess what? Now, I don’t remember the last time someone asked me why I was quiet or told me I am shy. Now that I finally realized who I am, I appreciate who I am, and others have too. I have emerged from my shell, though I still like to keep it close by. I still have strong walls, it can take me longer to open up, but I am not ashamed of it anymore. It's me and those who appreciate that will be around, while those who don’t can walk away. Either way, I will be fine.
Never stop growing
When I say this, I don’t mean never stop growing old. I still agree with Peter Pan, in that, we should “never grow up.” Yes, we should mature. We can be mature as well as youthful in our hearts. What I mean here is never stop growing as a person. We go through different seasons of our life. We should not fully change who we are, but rather evolve with new experiences and perspectives. The way we conduct ourselves, react and express ourselves can grow. Always take time for yourself to learn. Our best lessons are through our own experiences. Be awake in those moments and reflect on them. Be vulnerable, admit to your mistakes and accept what you can not change. Look at all the good and bad that comes into your life as a way to become a better you.
You can be what you want to be
Just like you are what you eat, you are what you say you are. There are scientific tests that are conducted to try to figure out how we get the personalities that we do, why we are attracted to the people we are attracted to and everything else to try to understand us as humans. We are molded into our personalities and maybe this can’t be changed and you shouldn’t want it to. Yes, you can’t just think something and with magic it comes to life. It’s about embracing the wonderful person you are, while taking control of how you think of yourself. What you believe about yourself, even if its the little voice in your head that no one hears, is going to reflect how people perceive you. How you perceive yourself is what you do have control over. If you want to be positive, you must talk to yourself positively. Another important lesson here, is also the words of others. Yes, they do hurt. Don’t let those words have the power, fight for yourself. The power is within you.
Continue to grow into 2019. Amazing things are on the horizon.
Health, love & happiness,