Confession #134: I was kind of a loser…
Let me give you a visual…
During my preteen years I had a slight, okay fine, major obsession with the boy band Hanson. (MMMBop anyone?) Like wallpapered walls, memorabilia wearing, don’t ever tell me they look like girls or else kind of obsession. I didn’t play sports with all the cool girls but instead was the solo clarinet player for our lousy middle school band. I also sang, mostly Hanson songs, like all the time- in the bathroom, down the hall, during gym. And this was pre High School Musical, so really there was just no excuse.
It wouldn’t be until 9th grade until I would discover the magical styling’s of a flat iron. My multi-colored braces were just that- multi-colored braces. And then there were my eyebrows- so thick and wild you could get lost in them for days.
At the wise age of 12, I was like a walking motivational speaker. I wrote poetry in my spare time, carried around the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book as if it was the Bible, and was equipped and ready to offer anyone my inspirational advice for their lives (made entirely from song lyrics or one-liners from my poetry journal, of course).
None of the kids understood me in middle school. Heck, let’s face it, I didn’t really understand myself either. I was a hot mess of pre-teen emotions and was oh-so dramatic about life. I can remember sitting in the back of my classroom just watching all the other kids, almost in slow motion, like a scene from a movie. How did they do it? How did they all know what to wear, how to act, what to like and what not to like? How did they all know how to be just like the other?
It wasn’t that I wanted to be like them, really. It wasn’t that I didn’t like my originality, because I did. But being different was lonely. I eventually became tired of observing and overthinking and being “wise beyond my years” as my English teacher said. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to blend in with the rest of them. I wanted a boyfriend for crying out loud!
I transferred schools right before high school. Being with new kids inside new hallways, I had the chance to transform myself, to become normal, at least on the surface. I strategically observed my peers and learned how to act and how to dress. I learned what music was appropriate to like (aka- not Hanson) and I even tried my hand at sports, just because. I hid my poetry journal under my bed and with it my love of reading and writing. I suppressed my feelings and originality and went after more superficial things like boys and fashion. I finally tweezed those eyebrows, straightened and highlighted my hair, and began shopping at Express and Gap.
I wasn’t super popular by any means, but considering where I came from in middle school, I played the act pretty well in high school. By the time I graduated I was a cheerleader, on homecoming court (twice), and prom queen. Now let’s just ignore the fact that it was a pretty small high school. My street cred sounds much better without that minor detail.
I know middle school wasn’t a bright and shining moment in most people’s timelines. I get that my story isn’t anything original. Puberty probably made all of us a little weirder than we’d like to admit. But I often wonder how much the insecurities I developed during those three years impacted the trajectory of my life.
What I mean is this…
As a child, I was pretty confident in who I was and who I wanted to be. I knew my talents and I wasn’t afraid to share them. But then came middle school and I began to second-guess everything. The opinions of others trumped my own heart and slowly I began to conform, losing myself along the way.
I often wonder how different I would have turned out had I kept my childhood passions alive, had I not let peer pressure and culture taint them. Would I be braver now, willing to take more risks, be more confident in who God made me to be?
I am finally at a place now where I am trying to revisit my childhood dreams and passions, trying to embrace the gifts God gave me. Getting over my fear of rejection has been challenging, but God is faithfully leading me.
What about you? Who were you as a child- pre-middle school? Did you become who you always wanted to be? Or is it time to revisit your childhood dreams along with me?
P.S. Since we are on the topic of school…how about you go check out our Amazon Wish List and consider helping some deserving Haitian teens with school supplies this year. Thanks!