For a long time, I have related to giraffes. I towered over my classmates at an early age and felt like my awkwardness made me stand out. Just like the giraffe, it was hard to blend in. There’s no place for a giraffe to hide, and I felt like all of my insecurities were equally on full display for everyone to see.
Experiences over the past two weekends have left me with an overwhelming sense of peace in the realization of how far I’ve come on this journey of self-acceptance in just a short time frame. And I credit it with being honest and open in writing while working hard to internalize these new ways of seeing others and myself.
I take hour-long walks around my neighborhood at least 4 times a week. This time is used more for brainstorming and reflection than a focus on speed and exercise. The physical activity is secondary, honestly. I feel better after the fact, but the real accomplishment is happening on my phone.
Instead of simply thinking about topics and hoping I remember the wording once I’ve returned to my apartment, I have taken to typing these thoughts into the notepad app on my phone.
At the end of January 2002, the senior class had the opportunity to go on a class trip to Disney World. I think it was a Friday-Monday kind of thing, so we didn’t get to skip too much class time. It was an awesome chance to bond with classmates, even if it did require more than 7 hours on a bus.
When high school began, I definitely was not ready for the high energy of Ellen. She was all about introducing herself to everyone and asking questions. There didn’t seem to be an off switch. For a major introvert like myself, it was off-putting in the beginning.
People who tend to be very loud and vocal end up getting on my nerves. It’s far too easy to write off their energy as annoying, though, so I have to be careful about that. It just takes time to understand where they’re coming from. (I’m sure many people initially think I’m not interested in what’s happening around me simply because I don’t say much at first.)
Along with being unable to accept compliments, there was also this long held concept of being less than and inferior to others, which began early on for me. I struggled in so many ways to match the speed, ease and ability of my classmates that I saw it as a flaw in my very character rather than strictly my ability. It defined me to the core, this idea of not measuring up. That even if I managed to improve, it seemed to matter very little because someone else was still better. My focus was all about how I compared to others instead of establishing my own track of development.
You’re supposed to pay attention to your interests and abilities to recognize talents as those might influence future areas of study to pursue and a potential career path. How do you successfully accomplish this with a negative view of yourself? Yes to a degree I saw that writing and creative writing were more strong suits. But it wasn’t enough to completely draw confidence from it or to see it as an actual talent. I still felt misunderstood for preferring to write in a notebook rather than trying to talk with others.
I twisted most of the compliments I received, convinced that people were just trying to be polite or telling white lie because they felt sorry for me. And with this internal, self-defeating attitude, you can tear yourself down pretty far. I didn’t need extra help in this area. So the emotional and sometimes verbal bullying/antagonizing that I received in previous years just reinforced this feeling of being inferior and incompetent, unworthy.