As I read these posts before posting, I’m encouraged by what people have to say (and how much better than can say it than me!). We may not all like ourselves 100% of the time, but these women have some pretty damn good reasons for staying positive. And are inspiring me in the process. Say hello to our second guest poster — Colleen Hale.
I’m sitting in the gym of my middle school, legs crossed, the hardwood causing my butt to fall asleep. On either side of me are classmates who are before and after me in the alphabet—quasi-assigned seating. We’re listening to a guest speaker talk about bullying. “You might make fun of your classmate because they have glasses, or freckles, or funny hair, or braces…”. Twelve year old me thinks, “check, check, check, and check”. I don’t remember the rest of the speech, I just remember the long list of reasons I might be made fun of, actually, the reasons I was made fun of.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t at the bottom of the social totem pole. I wasn’t terrorized, never physically hurt or threatened—just teased from time to time, usually by jerks, sometimes by friends. But, I was completely aware that I did not conform to the current standard of beauty. I hadn’t learned to control my frizzy/curly mouse brown hair. I wore glasses because I was afraid of touching my eye, a necessary step to put in contacts. I was in sports, but always larger and slightly more awkward than the other kids. And, well, braces and freckles you can’t really help. So I wasn’t consistently made to feel bad by people’s verbal abuse, but I knew where my physical appearance placed me in the spectrum of cool.
Throughout life we’re categorized, and we categorize others. Someone’s motherly, fat, pretty, dominating, flighty, buff, sketchy, full of themselves, etc etc etc. We like to try to figure each other out, box people up, and file them away in our minds forever labeled. I HATED this when I was younger, and am still not a big fan. I am not solely one thing. A lot of what I am isn’t particularly positive—outspoken, sometimes patronizing, and as one friend tells me: I like myself too much. But a lot of what I am is positive—caring, level-headed, smart, and a slamming hottie. I may have made the last one up. The point is that there are precisely one bajillion eighty four words that could be used to categorize me, but without every one of those words, you haven’t fully described me. I am not one personality trait or physical feature, I am all of them, combined in sometimes awkward ratios, to create a whole.
The whole of what I am is Colleen Hale. I am proud of every component of me, because without them I’d be someone else. I don’t relish my bad features (the love handles or sometimes abrasive comments) and often make myself cringe when remembering a particularly embarrassing memory (like the time I walked into school with my skirt tucked into the back of my panty hose, or the time I made a painfully bad joke in front of the boy I liked, or the time I…oh the list is endless). I have, however, come to accept the “bad” parts of me. I can always try to change the bits I don’t like, but even if they stick around (I’m looking at you, love handles), well, they’re me.
And I pretty much rock. I know, I like myself too much.