Here’s a bit to get to know me; I hope you are able to relate to different parts of my own story and that I can help you to grow. I won’t give it all up at once, but we will start from the beginning…
I grew up in the small, corn-fed town in IN from the age of 5. My father served in the Army for 20+ years and my mother stayed at home to tend to the house and raise us children. Throughout my elementary years, I struggled to make friends and connect on the level most of my peers seemed to pick up naturally. My first friend wasn’t made until 4th grade, and even then she was more of an acquaintance. I was adopted into their group, which gave me more of a sense of community – but I knew I wasn’t necessarily the top pick for being invited to out-of-school hangouts. I was the child who was among the last chosen for teams, I was picked on during recess, and I was targeted to be made fun of due to my tendencies of keeping to myself. Some of my favorite times were when the teachers would allow me to stay in from recess and help clean the room or grade papers.
When I moved on to Jr High and High School, nothing much really changed. Every year – from 7th to 12th grade – I went in with the mindset that it would be the year that I grew out of my awkward, introverted phase (it never changed, if you want the short version). I had the same group of peers that I hung out with and I tried to blend into the back drop. I hid my body beneath large hoodies and unflattering jeans because I saw other girls as prettier than myself – they were, after all, dressed in the latest American Eagle and Aéropostale styles and wearing makeup that made them look like the models in magazines. When I tried to leave the house wearing makeup, my father would immediately tell me to wash “that shit” off my face.
Sitting in class, the “popular” group of girls would sit near me and giggle, talking loudly enough about their latest sexploitations and glancing my way to ensure that my face was turning red enough to appease their attempt at embarrassing me. Every time, they would succeed. The guys would throw glances my way just because the size of my chest and make derogatory remarks. With each comment, pointed question, and childish remark, I felt myself shrink more into the outside. I didn’t understand why my peers worked in such a hormone-forward way; yet, all I wanted so desperately was to be able to fit in, be invited to parties, and make genuine friends.
The genuine friends I did make were made during the last couple years of my high school career and I had them for a few years after. Even though we have all gone our separate ways over the years, the impact on my life that has been made by them are lifelong. These were the friends who helped me start my journey into truly finding myself. Some of the stories are triggering; my story so far is one of many ups and downs, heartbreaks, loves, abuse, and so much growth. I have struggled with anxiety, depression, not feeling good enough, and constantly running after how to make others proud of me and to love me.
Upon graduating from high school, I dove straight into what was supposed to be my College career. Through the months prior to classes starting, there was a boy who had moved in next door with his mother. My mind was fueled by experiences I felt had been left unfilled during high school, and I was very interested in what the girls had made me blush about for so long. I made it top priority to put myself in the way of this guy in hopes it would turn into some sort of “Girl Next Door” love story. I was unfortunately terribly incorrect with how my story was about to play out.
This teenage Casanova I fantasized over turned out to be a manipulating narcissist. Looking back now, I don’t know how a teenager could be so charming on the outside, but so insidious – he was like a spider. He lured people to him, tangled them in his web, and before they knew it, he was poisoning their lives from the inside out. You may think I’m being a bit harsh, but as of two years ago he’s sitting in prison for attempted manslaughter after a robbery attempt. Everybody has the choice to be a different person at the drop of a hat… Unfortunately, he hasn’t quite discovered that part of life yet.
And with that, I will leave a cliffhanger. Another story for another time. Another lesson to be learned.
For now, the one lesson I have learned, that I have found to be the most helpful of any, is that the only person who can fill your wanting to be loved is yourself. Before you can love anyone fully, you must love yourself; the same goes for accepting love. I have chased after my father’s love in relationships I have put myself in. His love has been there all along, and because I was so busy chasing his love for so many years – I have cheated myself out of loving me. Where I thought I was lacking his being proud of me, I had been the one withholding love from myself and creating false barriers that I thought I had to overcome in order to be loved. The lesson? Love yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Take time to acknowledge everything you have accomplished and take the time to celebrate you.
We all forget that we will all face adversity… no matter where we start out at in life. Even though one person’s hard may look easy to you, doesn’t make it any less hard for them. Each individual person in this world is going through a different type of experience. We each learn from those experiences at different paces; we either get stuck at the same lesson, or are presented with new lessons to be learned. It is our responsibility alone to choose what will help us grow to move on to new lessons.