Around the time I was seven I became aware of not always fitting in.
This was mostly a playground thing where ‘teams’were picked and I wasn’t, where turns were taken and I was always last or out, where games were played but I didn’t know the rules or have the skills. You were picked for your skills – judged by your peers. It happened out of school too – there were the play dates that other kids had and talked about, the birthday invitations being handed out to everyone except me, there were the girls that went to Brownies, the kids who brought their lunches,the kids who had bikes and watches, the kids from families with TVs. Sometimes fitting in (or not) was a teacher controlled matter where groups were picked for sport or reading or projects – the kids who had informal existing groups were placed together and the rest of us just got each other – the rejects or leftovers. Not based on ability but on popularity. Classroom chores were allocated by teachers or voted on by the class – I got duster duty – never bell duty, or lunches monitor, or office runner – you needed a watch to be worthy enough for those tasks …. dusters all the way. I got to bring all the sports equipment in too, everyone else had run off – so I got to “help” with the jobs no one else wanted.
School has a way of judging you, comparing you, ranking you for everything…and if you don’t ‘pass’ the test, make the grade, come first….then you failed. You are not good enough. Giving 100% effort does not count. Beating your last score does not count. So, sadly, I went through over 10 years of school being judged by my teachers, peers, dance examiners, PE teachers etc being told I was not good enough, not pretty enough, not fast enough …. believing I was not good enough.
They say that what you learn at school is designed to set you up for life. Its true – I was ‘set up’ to have low self esteem, to be bullied, to be belittled and to feel unworthy of any good. I was ‘set up’ to bust my arse trying to make the grade – and falling short. I was set up to become a workaholic. I was set up to be constantly striving to be better, to be accepted, to be good enough. I was set up to believe that I was not good enough, and never would be no matter how hard I tried.
Sadly, this lesson has stayed with me through life, the feelings of failure dog me. I still feel judged everyday. Employers tell me I’m not good enough, I could do better. The teachers of my children judged me as a solo parent. Extended family pass judgement of my ability as a parent and a wife. What do you want from me? How do I prove to you that I am worthy of a “pass”?
- I work damn hard.
- I do all that is asked of me – and more
- I bend over backwards to understand and help others
- I constantly push myself to exceed expectations
- I support the underdog
- I don’t take time out for me – I’m too busy
- I am a great mother, step-mother and wife
- I am not a slacker or a shirker
- I ignore my feelings so as not to upset others
I was setup to be insecure and vulnerable to the opinions of others. I was set up to feel ‘temporary” in social groups, jobs, relationships…..in my life. Like I never really belonged here or anywhere. Expendable.
Kasey Chambers summed it up in her song….
I live, I breathe, I let it rain on me
I sleep, I wake, I try hard not to break
I crave, I love, I’ve waited long enough
I try as hard as I can
I laugh, I feel, I make believe it’s real
I fall, I freeze, I pray down on my knees
I hope, I stand, I take it like a man
I try as hard as I can
Am I not pretty enough
Is my heart too broken
Do I cry too much
Am I too outspoken
Don’t I make you laugh
Should I try it harder
Why do you see right through me
Its like everything I do is unseen. All the effort I make goes un-noticed. The great stuff I achieve is ignored. Like I don’t exist, like people don’t even see me… unless there is still something that needs doing…then I’m needed.
I AM ENOUGH.
- I am GOOD enough
- I am CLEVER enough
- I am COMPASSIONATE enough
- I am ORGANISED enough
- I am LOVING enough
- I am PRETTY enough
- I am PRODUCTIVE enough
- I AM ENOUGH!!!
…. AND I DONT NEED YOU TO TELL ME or PICK ME or VALIDATE ME or SUPPORT ME or ENCOURAGE ME or ACKNOWLEDGE ME…. (although it would be nice)
I AM ME AND I BELIEVE IN ME……
…..or at least I try to.