Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Adolescent Angst (A Confession)

I'm guessing that most, if not all, of you, were pretty well-adjusted adolescents and teenagers. Sure, self-esteem could falter at times, but I figure that for the most part, you were happy in your skin, content with your many friends and social activities.

And then there was me... I was somewhat shy, not too cool, a bright student, and definitely not too popular, except for many of the wrong reasons: a target for others. It was as if "Nice gals finished last." I didn't have many friends until I was about 17, and then slowly, slowly, I began to evolve and come out of my (oyster) shell.

The lack of ego, the insecurities that carried over from primary school, chased me to junior high and some high school even. I was always fearful of others -- what they MIGHT say, what they MIGHT do -- just because I'd experienced a lot of that stuff already. Not pleasant for a young person.

But I always say that those experiences made me a much stronger person, and a well-adjusted person. I have learned to forgive, even if I don't completely forget episodes, which is a step ahead of many people. I could well have turned into a bitter, reclusive, scared-of-the-world person, and surprisingly, I'm not. I'm happy, I love people, I am confident (90% of the time, anyway), and I'm aware of the many nuances that bullying can take and try to steer my children from them.

Sometimes in my "I must be the only person treated like this" mode, I used to wonder what it would be like in school if I suddenly disappeared. In grade 7, I recall being at my locker and wondering if I was just a "spirit" hovering in the hallways, what I might hear said about me, if I was gone. No, I was definitely not suicidal, not even truly depressed...but I always had a good imagination and just wondered: Would it make a difference to my peers if I was gone? Would they notice? Would they care? Would they then be sorry for the way they'd treated me?

I think that is what I truly wanted: for people to realize and recognize that I'd been emotionally hurt and that they should feel sorry for the way I'd been treated.

Perhaps that's why I'm so aware of others -- others' feelings, others' thoughts. Sensitivity about myself was always strong, yet it introduced a great sensitivity to others...which is a good thing.

I wonder if I'd been a different kind of kid, and my school experiences would have been different, if I'd become a different kind of adult. But as I'm definitely happy with who I am these days ( and all without therapy of any kind, only use of keeping my journals throughout the years), it all worked out for the best, didn't it????


Ezzie said...

I think I was always very similar, until and even through most of high school. I wasn't truly happy until I got to Israel, though I was on-and-off in HS.

RaggedyMom said...

Growing up, I definitely wasn't popular, but was not exactly unpopular either. During high school, I think I made a subconscious decision that although I would never be part of some cliquey elite, nor would my parents be "school machers," I should just have fun with it.

Since my humor was (is) a little different than the norm, funny was my currency of cool, and it yielded respect even without all the right clothes and the right address.

Sealing the deal was my atypical taste in music, wearing thrift store clothing a few years before it was common in a frum, girls' school, and ultimately my spoof on school elections by claiming to be declaring myself "communist party leader" of the school. (I guess that eliminates anonymity for anyone who may have gone to school with me reading this blog - though I think I've mentioned it briefly in mine too.)

The popular girls did not really know what to make of this bit of counterculture, but somehow it worked for me.