The younger version of myself would be disappointed in the person I have become. Back then I hungered to prove to the world, that I may not fit in as a refugee but my life was so eccentric, or so I said. I created journeys that were un-ordinary as the next one, to anyone who would listen. Colleagues entertained them, not asking more clarifying questions; almost as though they knew I needed to tell them.
I was failing my classes in middle school, my reading skills were lacking, math was weak and history skewed. Like any other family I received negative reinforcement to get them back up. An assumption of laziness, disrespect for our status and selfishness. Internalizing it all and it worked ya’ll. I decided to be top rank in my grade, read better and to hold information a young twelve year old was not supposed to hold. And I did it while barely learning any social cues, closed off from my peers, my head in every book given to me. Memorized maps, slept reading textbooks; always dog-eared from forced stuffing it in my bag. I practiced math at all time, chose studious friends with very little in common.
My grades improving, parents receiving compliments from teachers not noticing my want to just give up and finally sleep soundly. My mother found me reading fiction one day and her comments felt a sting of resentment, saying “I am happy you are reading”. It made me want to defy them and just burn the books. Harry Potter, Goosebumps and ambiguous short stories found in libraries, hospitals and bookstores. Passing the final national seventh grade exam was a breeze. A moment I assumed was over, my parents receiving praise, more people wanted to be associated with me.
Unsatisfied and unfulfilled, I ventured for the next thing out there. With little motivation when the ground settled, when failure surfaced, I was drenched in anxiety to do well. Soon failures were not enough to feel motivated, I needed more negative reinforcement; more shaming, dismissal and disrespect. By high school, I instigated an argument with a friend for borrowing my sandals, even when I gave them to her. I needed the isolation, the lone wolf and the shame, only to keep my grades up with others. College was no exception, with this unhealthy mindset now drenched in failures and was moving too slow to keep up. And with every failure I became content with it, I began to shame myself, be little myself and deny any form of happiness.
The beginning of college was full of regrets and resentment of my choices to be a failure. Younger me would have been stronger, meaner and selfish reach the goals. But I know she was tired, unhappy and lost. I have one semester left to acquire my bachelors and I am still struggling to be nicer to myself. Remind myself that facing failure is bravery and every time I do it, it’s painful but necessary lesson to learn. Below is how I am trying to achieve it:
- Redefine bravery as a norm not fiction. Walking into your failures, owning them and turning them around is bravery. Its choosing to be brave everyday
- Remind yourself of your strengths and take responsibility
- Forgive yourself for every time you fail, it’s all a lesson to learn
- Love yourself but don’t forget to ask for help. Support and community builds a better ground to stand on.
Go ahead be brave, honestly I am still terrified and I am writing this avoiding my failure to complete an assignment. Shame myself and not even try, but I won’t do that, I will try again and be brave for me. For my success, my possibilities and my life. Go ahead, be brave and share with someone who cares for you or me. Tell them everything, the fear, how hard it was, how long it took, what happened when you were brave? What happened after?. Start somewhere
Thank you for reading and comment below your everyday form of bravery.
Mine right now is getting out of bed.