At ten years old, I had my first experience of being DIRECTLY told that it is not okay to like yourself.
It was 3.30pm on a fairly sunny afternoon in a quiet country town and school had just finished up for the day. We were mingling, standing along the school fence, a small group of grade 5s and 6s, waiting for our school bus to come. We were talking, as we did, about the day and what we’d done in class that day.
You see, our teacher had given us a ‘well-being’ task. We were to colour in a mantra worksheet that we felt resonated the most with us. I wish for the life of me I could remember what the other sheets even said – but I can’t. I imagine they said things like, ‘always look of the bright side of life’, ‘don’t worry, be happy’, etc. But the one I chose for me, the one that resonated the most with my innocent, ten year old self, was…
‘I like me’.
Because, at ten years old, I did. Life was good. I was a very bright student – I found the academic side of school quite easy. I had made a few new friends at school – this all happened in the first year at my new school. Our new house had so much room for my brother and I to run around and play outside. He and I made friends with the neighbours quite quickly.
Seriously, I had every reason to be happy with who I was.
I was the only one in the grade to pick this sheet to colour in. And that, along with the notion behind my chosen mantra, was enough for me to be ridiculed by my peers. I was teased and belittled for this belief.
All while waiting to catch the bus home.
So, why did these other ten and eleven year old kids even know to question my self-assurance? Who was teaching these poor children that they shouldn’t be happy with themselves? And how did they even feel about THEMSELVES?
And as my precious first born daughter approaches her tenth birthday, I certainly hope that I am not imparting this horrible, socially deeply ingrained notion that is it not okay to be self-assured.
Because as much as we promote a self-assured façade on all the socials, how many of us secretly sneer at the Tall Poppies of this world? How many of us actually believe the ‘highlight reel’ of our own lives?
We can start here. We can embrace all that is our own. I can embrace all that is your own.
Accept yourself for who you are right now. Honour where you’ve come from. Get excited about where you’re going.
My husband is going to laugh at this next line.
Stop comparing yourself to others.
Just imagine how much we could achieve if we all accepted ourselves and each other for who we are.