Most of my childhood I struggled with the need to blend in, I desperately wanted to be one of crowd. It didn’t help that my mother was one of the biggest abusers to my ego stating plainly that I should be just like so and so. Sometime in my teenage years it dawned on me that I would never be like the beautiful girls she wanted me to emulate; my hair was too red, too curly, I was too pale, and top it all off I was tall, uncoordinated and didn’t fit into my own body. I was the total package.
Thanks to amazing friends, who also were complete misfits, an amazing father who loved his weird daughter for all her strangeness, and many other puzzle pieces that thankfully fit together I made it out of those awful years mostly unscathed.
My adult years I’ve spent no more comfortable in my own skin, but I have spent time trying to shed the old coats of comparison. I have discovered the more time I spend comparing my life to those of others I feel that old sense of shame. Where I cannot live up to the sense of perfection that I somehow have deluded myself into believing I needed to feel whole.
With age brings wisdom. I do understand this more each passing year.
I’m understanding that I will never be perfect and only in my imperfections am I truly unique. A rose among the thorns.
I recall around ten years ago someone saying that very statement to me. She was referring to my bright orange hair standing out in a crowd of people. I still recall the embarrassment I felt at her statement as eyes in the crowd turned to me. What I don’t recall is if I thanked her for her compliment because my mind was playing all the things that people were probably thinking about me. Things I have no way of knowing even exist except my own insecurities, but in my head their looks were saying, “How dare she be a rose,” “She’s not a rose, SHE’s the thorn,” “More like a weed to be to tossed away.”
I have discovered children will humble you like no one else in the world. You see, as I struggled to find my own uniqueness, my children lovingly and unconditionally pointed out how awesome it is was to have a mom with beautiful red hair. For you see neither of them have it. They loved it when strangers told their mother how beautiful her hair was. Their unconditional admiration has helped me overcome one of my biggest comparison shame coats.
It has taken me a lifetime to realize that standing out, being a literal beacon in a crowd, just being who I am, is not a horrible stigma. I’ve stopped comparing myself to the expectations of everyone else and know it’s okay to just be me and I’m right where I need to be.
I may never have classic beauty. I may never be a millionaire (okay that has nothing to do with what I’ve been talking about, more of an observation but it still saddens me), I may never have a lot of things, but I do know there will never be another me. This I do know.
I don’t want to be just another voice lost in the crowd. I don’t want to do things exactly the same way as everyone else. I enjoy being me, although I wouldn’t mind being a little closer to a millionaire (okay I’ll let it go, for now.)
Be a rose. Be a tulip. Be a carnation. Let’s fill the world with a beautiful flower garden. Just be you.
Keep reading, keep writing, keep dreaming.