I recently had a young girl cry as she told me that no matter how hard she tries, she will never be like the girls in her school. All she sees when she looks in the mirror is how she stands out. Adults typically find this easy to write off as temporary teen angst, assuring her that her differences are what make her beautiful. As a counselor, though, I connected with that feeling of loneliness. I dug within myself to relate, allowing me to see that her “standing out” is equivalent to being not good enough. It’s easy to forget those feelings as we get older and our worlds grow bigger, but right now, this is her entire life.
Middle school feels like another life to me. High school is a funny and distant memory to me because of how deeply I felt it defined me. I’ve grown into a different person. I’ve traveled across the world and have embraced all of the organic cultures. Each adventure gave me more life knowledge than I could’ve ever learned in school. I discovered myself while i stepped off of a plane in a small African village, in a café in London, then again on a bridge in Poland.
I can remember, though, what it felt like to be in this sea of judgment, hypocrisy, lack of understanding, and unattainable standards. School made me feel like I didn’t belong, so I tried to fit in. The makeup and the clothes I had were a mask that I used in my effort to conform. Although, I do have to admit that the fake nails made me feel fierce. I felt like most of my friendships were shallow and lacked authenticity. I couldn’t let go of the deep pain I felt when rumors and false perceptions were started about me.
My thoughts used to be that life ended after high school, so I grasped onto what I could. I had an identity crisis after I walked that stage, packed up my things, and moved to college. The mold I was trying to squeeze myself into slipped from my fingertips. I cut off my hair, had a different clothing style each day, cut ties with toxic people, and frantically searched for an identity outside of my little bubble of expectations.
Embracing Your True Self
Now, it’s easy for me to look back and regret living for others’ expectations rather than living authentically. I have to remind myself that it’s all part of the journey. Every experience offers us a chance to grow. Because of this, we have the opportunity to be in a constant state of evolution.
If you’re stagnant and simply conforming to what’s around you, you’re denying yourself the beauty of increasing your self-awareness, deepening your overall state of being, and the opportunity to expand your world. I know I’ll never be done growing and learning what I’m capable of. Nothing would be achieved if I stayed in my comfort zone. It’s often the scariest or painful things that shape, push, and propel us if we allow it. Embrace the scary. Embrace the pain. Be malleable. Get lost, and find your authentic self.
Give Amy Wine Counseling Center a call at 832-421-8714 if you have questions about our counseling services or would like to schedule an appointment.