The Moment I Started To Know Myself

I was kind of picked on in primary school. Not horrifically bullied, or anything. Yet for about three years, I was riding the friendship yo-yo. One day I was “in”, the next, I was totally out. I was part of the club, or I was told I didn’t meet membership requirements. As a result of this, I spent a lot of time riding an emotional yo-yo. I felt wonderful about myself when I was part of the crowd, and I felt like absolute crap when I was living on an island of exclusion.

I can clearly remember the glances between my parents as I bowed to these girls I wanted so badly to accept me. I remember simmering anger as they saw me hurt and disappointed time and time again.

And then I started junior high school. It seemed to be the biggest school I could ever have imagined, and during those first few weeks, I was absolutely blown away by the sheer number of students.

Although I was so excited to start this new part of my school life, I was also really, really scared. What would I do on those days when I wasn’t included? Would I have to eat my lunch alone? Would I be one of those sad people sitting by themselves? In the throngs of kids of all shapes and sizes, who would even bother to know me?

And then, in a surprisingly short period of time, I truly began to know myself. As I met new people and created new friendships, I become much more aware of the kinds of people I wanted, the kinds of people I needed in my life. Before I knew it, the ‘cool crowd’ from my primary school were just faces in the crowd.

My new friends, kids who were so different from those I had known, not only liked me, but they saw me for exactly who I was. I didn’t have to pretend in order to fit in. I didn’t have to be less than them to gain admission. And because I did not have to spend any time or energy on fitting in, I was able to use all that focus to get to know myself again. And to be honest, I was pretty proud of what I saw.

Don’t get me wrong – I had lots of dramatic, humiliating teenage moments. I struggled with self-esteem like so many girls going through the awkwardness of growing up. The boys I liked rarely liked me. There were parties I wasn’t invited to. There were times when people were talking about me, and not in a good way.

But in the midst of all that angst, I still knew who I was, what was important to me, and I had at least an inkling of the kind of person I wanted to be – a person who was passionate, determined, intelligent, and, if I may say so myself, a really fabulous friend.

At 12, I thought I knew everything. At 42, I know I knew very little. Yet even after thirty years, the results of my self-discovery have remained remarkably consistent.

So if you are still unclear, make it a priority. Learn to “know thyself”. Learn to like yourself. Teach your children the same thing. Clarity is everything.

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