I was driving the girls to the Annual NOT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL PICNIC yesterday and I drove passed hoards of teens walking about on their lunch break during their first day back.
I could not help but notice their nice haircuts, new shoes and crispy shirts. I also could not help but notice their nervousness as they walked in groups desperately jockeying for position amongst the herd. The girls were awkwardly playing with their new hairstyles and the boys were walking around with a nervous swagger. I felt their discomfort and I was uncomfortable for them.
I could only too clearly remember the desperate need to fit in with everyone, but wanting so badly to be 'the one' that all the boys noticed.
I could not help but chuckle when I noticed that all of them looked the same. They were all wearing the same 'cool clothes', the 'right style', the hip new hair cut. They managed to blend together like a big ball of Coordinated Gap yarn.
The only one to stick out and be noticed were the 'I could wear a plastic bag and still look great genetically blessed kids'. Sorry hunny, but no amount of makeup or short shorts will turn you into 'HER'.
I could not help but feel sorry for them. Sorry for the teen that I used to be.
I remember being on the verge of vomiting before the first day of school. Wanting so badly to stick out and be noticed but fit in with the crowd. I was so scared that I would find myself standing or sitting alone somewhere or find no one that was excited to see me.
I sympathize. I get it. I understand. I am SO relieved those days are behind me. I am SO relieved that as an adult I have been able to embrace who I am. I snagged a man that wants to be with me for who I am. He did not want to marry the other chick. He wanted me because I am me. My friends also love me for the unique person that I am and what I have to offer our friendships. They don't care what I wear or how long I grow my hair. It is not a competition. There is no popularity contest.
There are people in my life who can't stand me. Do I wish they liked me? Does it bother me that she thinks I am a horrible person? You bet. But I carry on. I don't base my self worth on her opinion of me because frankly I don't really like her either ;)
I wish I could tell those teens that it does not matter if they are popular or not. What the heck is popularity anyway? I wish I could tell them that what they feel is so important right now won't matter 5 years from now. That people will be interested in the UNIQUE things they did with their life and envy their self confidence and self assurance about who they are. I wish I could tell the girls that the right guy will come along and appreciate them for who THEY are and be attracted to what THEY look like.
But I can't. They will have to figure it out on their own just as I did. For that I feel anxiety for them and relief that I don't ever...ever have to go through that again.