My 10 year high school reunion is this weekend and you better believe I have been hit with a rush of emotions, thoughts, memories and more from those awkward teen years.
I had a weird experience in high school, just plain weird. I can sum my problem up in one sentence but that would make for a pretty dull post. I wasn't teased in high school, I wasn't out casted, in fact, most of my peers were really nice to me despite the fact I struggled inside, my issue was I just didn't love myself and in retrospect I can see people picked up on that. IMHO, my problems stemmed from my struggles with religion and family. I was raised Mormon and the issues that arose from that are a whole different post entirely. My family had some issues, my parents were divorced and we were never taught to focus on loving ourselves. My mom was so unhappy she could only handle the basics, like making sure we had a healthy dinner on the table and our grades were up. My Dad hurt my Mom alot and my Mom felt she did not have the emotional capacity to give me any emotional strength as she was struggling with the same issues herself. Instead, I was made to feel ashamed for all that I wanted and felt. I was constantly beating myself up, wondering how I could be different? I found myself constantly rebelling and in trouble at home. Looking back, it's no wonder I wasn't my Mother's favorite child, but according to my memories, instead of getting talked to and consoled I just got grounded, again probably because she had little available to give.
No shocker, the minute I hit 18, I moved out and never went back. Completely un-grateful my struggling mother had raised me to the best of her abilities. Most people at this point would hit the pavement full speed, but no, not me, I just got a regular Accounting job and started working. My self-worth was still not there. I was still a scared little girl who had no faith in herself and wanted to be popular in high school and take 2 inches off her waist. What finally shook me from my shell, was dating someone who had zero self-worth. It was so easy for me to see that he wasn't living his life. He was coasting. Scared to make decisions. Scared to fail. And then in true Rachel form, I had a moment. An Oh My Gosh, stop pointing the finger moment. I realized everything that I found 'wrong' with him, was 'wrong' with me and that I was basically being a petty little baby. Talk about getting hung up on the little things. Why didn't I love myself? Why didn't I think I was amazing? I felt like a burden to my parents. My smile isn't perfect. And when I smile that not perfect smile one eye gets smaller than the other. I've always had some pudge around my lower belly. Oh no my parents weren't perfect? My legs are short. My sense of fashion is always once accessory short.
Truth be told, alot of those issues were my parents, and the other ones are just trivial and lame, and every flaw I highlighted took away from a strength that I did have. I FINALLY woke up and learned to toss that shit to the side, like taking out the trash I let all that go. Maybe I went overboard, maybe not, but I ended that relationship with a quickness. I found inspiring blogs like, www.tinybuddha.com that helped me a TON. I started dancing at concerts, I started doing my hair differently, I wore whatever I wanted, I embraced my body by walking around naked and loving the flaws, I exposed myself to strangers, I let my snort come through in my laugh and I just plain fell in love with myself. Genuinely. Lots of times I look in the mirror and look at my forehead wrinkle, or my teeth that Zoom! can't even whiten and I just smile. I feel so complete (ok, most days!!!) and fulfilled, I just feel that I am who I am and now that I'm not comparing myself to others, I feel so much more uplifted. I fail at times obviously, but I always try to make sure to rise again and make myself the best I can be. This is not something that I did overnight, and not something that is as easy as the fore-mentioned taking out the trash. There were emotional conversations with my Mother, there were drunken nights I went too far, there were setbacks. But ultimately I knew (and still know) that my relationship with myself is the most important one. I know that if I don't take care of myself, I won't be the best partner I can be for my love now, and he deserves the best.
Life could be worse. Life could be better. My favorite quote that I have lived by since I read it,"Personality starts where comparison ends." Life is not about comparison. We are all our own versions of awesome, and the best favor we can do ourselves and the world is to highlight the best things about ourselves and share them with the world while uplifting others to do the same.
PS- I'm not going to the reunion. Although I am at terms with my high school years, I feel moving forward is the best way to...well....move forward. Going back seems completely un-necessary. And unlike my past years, I love my life, and myself now.