You know how people always say, “ Gosh, I’d give anything to be able to be a kid again.” I vehemently have to disagree with that statement.
I do admit, it makes some sense, though. There are no bills to pay, no responsibilities, no adulting… I can definitely see why it would appeal to others.
But for me, being a kid was HARD. Being a teenager was even HARDER. No way, no how do I want to go back to that again.
AS A CHILD.
I was an unhappy, little girl who spent her days dreaming about being a grown-up. And now that I’m officially adulting, I still don’t want to go back to the past.
There was a time I was in church with my parents and one of the members said “hi” to my mom and then to me. I was painfully shy then, so I buried my head in my mom’s legs and didn’t utter a peep. I’ll never forget that day. My dad tried to get me to say hey and basically yelled at me in front of the adult and I ended up coming home with a spanking on his to-do list. I didn’t know how to bring myself to say hi then. But I quickly learned that being the way I was (terrifyingly shy) wasn’t what he expected of me. Or the kids at school or anyone else in my life for that matter.
I already didn’t have a close relationship with my dad at that point as he hadn’t been a part of my life until not long prior to that particular incident. Which made these incidents even harder for a young timid girl who saw her father as a stranger. Life really sucked back then.
AS A YOUNG ADULT.
And when I became a semi-adult (I call that mid-20’s because, let’s face it, no one really comes into maturity until around 30), it didn’t get any easier. In fact, if it’s possible, it got even HARDER.
I was always being judged. People in NC, in the south, were so damn judgy. I felt like everything I did was wrong. I couldn’t possibly please such people.
The clothes I wore were too casual/sexy/dressy/short/inappropriate/insertinsulthere for whatever place I happened to be at. My friends weren’t cool with what I did with my time, whether I chose to go out without drinking, didn’t go out at all or didn’t stay out late enough.
The hardest part for me was when it came time to overhaul my lifestyle. In particular, my diet. My friends were relentless. They teased me and incidentally made me feel “less than” for not eating whatever they did. The worst part is when they started leaving me out. It started with restaurants. “Well I didn’t think they’d have anything you could eat there” they’d say, “so I didn’t think you’d want to come.”
And I remember a particular scarring incident at a bar in Charleston. We were in town to run the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run 10k (only a couple of us actually ran it) and then partied into the evening that night to celebrate. We’re having a great time and then I saw a friend was passing out shots… to everyone but me. She sees me looking and says, “I didn’t think you could do a shot.” Oh puh-lease. I’m standing there with a drink in my hand… just like all our friends and everyone else in the bar. Why would I not drink a shot too?!
This kind of thing happened a lot.
But I stuck to my guns (or carrots and hummus were more like it) and kept trudging along with my new lifestyle change. I stopped hanging out so much and became distant. And soon after, I distanced myself as far as I possibly could when I left for the other side of the world… and didn’t come back until a few years later.
I was totally a victim. I was a sensitive soul and took every little comment, every time I was left out, to heart. I had every damn right to be a victim.
Dictionary.com’s definition of a victim is:
a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency
But you know what? Being the victim… it sucks. It really sucks. In fact, I don’t recommend it.
Because when I finally STOPPED being the victim, life suddenly became more bearable. And it even got to be pretty good.
Dictionary.com’s other definition of victim is:
a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency
(Could it be that I was deceiving myself by my own emotions and ignorance??? Gasp!)
NO LONGER THE VICTIM.
When I left, I realized right away that no one was judging me in my new faraway home. And looking back, I realize that it was only because I felt a sense of freedom I never had before. I let myself go and stopped trying to please everyone around me. I was open about my lifestyle choices and why I chose to do things and eat foods I did. Sure, I got challenged and I got push back. But mostly I got curious people asking me inquiring questions so they could potentially incorporate the changes in their own lives.
When I came back to the states, I came back an adult. I came back an adult physically (I was in my 30’s then) as well as metaphorically. In a way, it looked like I got my childish wish to become someone else. Except I wasn’t a different person. I came back as ME. Only the new me has confidence and humility the old me didn’t know anything about. Armed with my new attitude, inner light, and fresh outlook on life, I found I could help my friends, family, and later, my clients. I showed them how to cope, grow, and become the best version of themselves. Now that I’m no longer the victim, I can see how they hurt in their own ways and I can see their happiness for the new me that emerged.
It wasn’t the people that had changed. It was me.
My whole life I saw myself as the victim, the underdog. But no more. Instead of anger and resentment, I found peace. In the midst of the hurt and the pain, I found compassion. Rather than victimhood, I found freedom.
Life may be hard, it’s true. But it’s pretty damn good too.