When I look back I start remembering it all so clearly
and the feelings of being so embarrassed. Since I’m a grown woman now it does make it easier to share and honestly a good amount of time passing by always helps.
It all started in the 6th grade when I was going through the “awkward stage.” It was the first day of school. I recently got braces, never used a hair straightener and my favorite songs were probably from a Lizzie McGuire soundtrack, which was not cool anymore. On the first day of school I probably wore something like belle bottom jeans and a flowery shirt. It wasn’t far into the year I started changing things about myself to fit in with the cool girls. I wanted to dress, talk and act like them. At that time I’d do anything it took to fit in. It was still the beginning of the school year and I ended up making new friends. One of the girls knew how to get a crowds attention and fit in. Soon enough I was the girl walking into gym class with my gym shorts rolled up just enough to show off some my goods. Oh Dear! Lying out in the sun each day in hopes my skin would turn brown was a must. I ended up dying my dark brown hair to blonde. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t dye your hair or that I’ll never go blonde again, but during that time I did it for the wrong reasons. In fact I was doing everything for the wrong reasons. When I look back I see how much care I put into what people thought of me. I carried that into the rest of middle school and all the way to high school years. I also know I’m not the only one whose been a middle schooler or high schooler who cared too much what others thought.
Fast-forward to my 8th grade year. This was a tough one. I ended up transferring to a new middle school across town. Just as I was getting settled into this new environment my parents told my sisters and I the news that we were moving to a smaller town which was an hour and a half away. I had Three months of 8th grade left. I was going to a place where these people already knew each other since kindergarten, so they had their cliques. I went from being in a place of feeling like a “somebody” to now a “nobody.” There was a boy who knew who I was because his family knew mine. He was advised to invite me to sit with him and friends at lunch. I remember him rolling his eyes and acting annoyed that he had to “help” me find my way around. About two weeks in he sent me over to a table full of girls. I felt like a ghost in the room because I literally don’t think anyone knew I was sitting there. Being the new girl in a small town was hard and my stomach was in knots every day because I dreaded lunch time.
During this school year I developed white spots all over my body. I went to a dermatologist and it turned out they were sun spots I developed because of my tanning obsession. It was noticeable and I felt embarrassed. I cried and begged my mom to go to the guidance counselor to tell them to take me out of gym class. Being the new girl was already tough enough and I was terrified of being made fun of. I thought people would think I was weird or had a disease.
Going into High School I still had the sun spots. I know as ridiculous as it may sound it was a BIG deal back then. I was a teenage girl, so looks mattered way too much and I’d pick myself apart for any flaw. The spots were the worst on my stomach and arms and if anyone ever saw them they’d ask what it was. That was when I pretended not to hear them while slouching in my chair. When I received my class schedule and saw I had a semester of gym class the knots turned in my stomach. I didn’t want any of the girls to look at me funny in the locker room. I envied anyone with that perfect tan. Throughout my high school years I changed in the bathroom or would wait till girls left the locker room, which often made me late. I became mad a God because I was dealing with this. I remember crying in my room one day begging him to make my skin look normal again. I would be asked why I wouldn’t go try out for cheerleading and I pretended I just wasn’t into it. I also really wanted to play tennis but kept that a secret. I wouldn’t try out for anything that would put me in a locker room any more than I already had to be. I was terrified people wouldn’t like me. Being in this new town I felt like I had to work to get people to like me. My best friend from my hometown started slipping away more and more into each school year as she found new friends. Making loyal friend started feeling hard.
All those years of dealing with friend rejections, trying to hide a flaw and doing all it took to fit in put me in a place of having major self-worth and trust issues.
I finally got over the sun spots flaw. I’m not afraid to show my stomach and the spotting has faded throughout the years. Even if I still had them as bad I wouldn’t want to be afraid to show them. I regret letting THAT defeat me in the past because I passed up so many great opportunities. If I could go back I probably would have tried out for the tennis team with my head held up high while embracing my flaw.
I think about how one day my daughter will go to new places in life; like middle school, high school or into a career. Every mother hopes the best for their children. My hope is that my baby girl never feels like she has to be anyone but her awesome self. It’s my hope that one day when I tell her this story it speaks something to her. I also hope that it encourages you to never pass up any opportunity because of a flaw you have or a fear of people not liking you. I spent years allowing flaws, fears and rejections to defeat me. I can’t go back and change that, which is okay. Sure I’ll still have flaws and deal with struggles in this life. What I can do is try and stay true to myself today. I can also use this to tell you that I wouldn’t want you to ever conform into being someone you’re not. Lastly, I wouldn’t want you to look back and realize that you let flaws, fears or rejections defeat you.