Growing up is difficult, because it’s so easy to let other people dictate who you are.
Growing up I was always told that I was “too” much.
I was “too loud”, “too muscly”, “too opinionated”, ‘too confident”.
Basically I was “too” anything if I had a characteristic that another person didn’t like, and for an incredibly long (way too long) time, I let other people dictate how I felt about myself.
I let other people affect the way in which I carried myself, how I acted and how I viewed myself.
I let other people decide that I shouldn’t be anything more than what they wanted me to be and when you’ve suppressed who you are to appease others for so long, it takes a great deal of confidence to be able to discover who you really are because you get so scared that people won’t like you.
Hell you’re not even sure if you’ll like you.
Confidence is something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember.
I was always nervous around people and growing up I didn’t have a close social circle. I preferred to drift amongst various social “groups” because it was easier. Because it meant that I didn’t have to get close to people and if I avoided getting close to people it meant that I could avoid other people feeling as though they had a right to comment on my characteristics. Because being told that somebody doesn’t like something about you hurts. It hurts a lot. But the problem with keeping people at arms length is that you avoid forming any real connections.
It took me a while to realise that not everybody is going to hate you, and not everybody is going to like you, and both of those things are ok because not everybody will be your cup of tea. It took me a while to realise that, actually, I’m pretty damn ace, especially when you get a few amaretto sours in me. It took me a while to realise that the over-enthusiastic, stupidly punny, occasionally loud, very sarcastic, sometimes funny girl who laughs at her own jokes is exactly who I am meant to be.
It took me a while to realise that I like me.
People say that they’d give anything to go back to their youth and re-do high school, but I can honestly say that I’ve never seen the appeal, because right here right now? It’s everything I hoped growing up would be.
It’s a chance to break free of other people’s preconceptions.
I’ve still got a while to go, because despite how much you want it to, confidence doesn’t come easy, but I get closer to that person with each day. I’m pushing myself to do more, try more and be more.
An example of such is the photos in this post. They were all taken by (and copyright remains with) the very lovely Ally Berry. Ally had a camera and needed a face. I had a face and a mission. A mission to be more comfortable in front of a lens as opposed to behind it, because I’m awkward AF when people take photos of me.
But before I digress completely, know that growing up isn’t something that happens overnight.
Growing up is a lot like turning stones into sand. It’s a gradual process. Sometimes an event will happen which will speed up the process, but on the whole it takes time, energy and it doesn’t need to be rushed.
Growing up takes time because it’s something that needs to be experienced because the lessons are in the journey.
And whilst it shouldn’t be rushed, I can’t tell you how glad I am to be see the other side of it.