It’s been a crazy summer and blogging has really fallen by the wayside. Gearing up for a new school year for the kiddo has me slowly coming back to reality and re-organizing my life. So I am back to blogging my testimony and a few other topics thrown into the mix here and there.
This summer, I had the privilege of attending Forest Home Christian Camp as a leader for high school girls. Basically, I took a week off of work to hang out with high schoolers and act like a big kid. This place was right up my alley; I was in the San Bernardino Mountains with a lake, a pool, hiking, rock climbing, zip lining, and lots of active games. It was a great time! (See a few photos below)
I went into camp understanding the demands placed on students and virtual social interactions caused high school to change dramatically since my day; however, I did notice that not too much has changed about the surface of person-to-person social interactions in high school. There are still cliques and stigmas to overcome in order to make it to the social circle you feel best suits you. Watching all of it occur around me caused me to fall back into the emotional uncertainty that comes with not knowing your place in the high school hierarchy. You know what I’m talking about: “Do the cool kids like me? Am I the butt of jokes I’m missing? Are they talking about me behind my back?” I was constantly reminding myself that I was in fact a 30-something year old woman with plenty to offer in life and acceptance of the high school girls I was there to lead was unnecessary. I hate to admit that I was constantly reminding myself, but it is true. I didn’t just have to do it one time and move on. It was a regular conversation in my head throughout the week.
Reflecting back on all of the emotions going through my “grown-up” brain while spending time with the kids, I think about how difficult it is for each of them fumbling through high school to find a place to fit in and even how hard it was for me. Since the emotions came back during this week, so did the memories…
By my freshman year in high school I already had two labels that followed me from junior high; band-geek and soccer-jock. They are a bit contradicting, but they were two hats I wore pretty well. I had friends from both worlds and no one from either side seemed to have any problems with the contradiction. I didn’t know if that would change in high school, so knowing I could fit in to both of these worlds did not make me feel secure starting my freshman year. In fact, I was extremely nervous that the upper classmen would lay on thick harassment and from both sides. Fortunately, I didn’t get picked on for being in band or for being on the soccer team, but I didn’t feel confident and secure, especially in the soccer clique which had more of the “popular kids”.
I never felt I wasn’t “good enough” for the popular kids. I was intimidated by the group and even intimidated one-on-one. In either situation, I felt awkward and rejected before I even had a chance to be rejected. I remember one girl in particular intimidated me because we had a run in when we were in 5th grade. That’s right, my freshman year in high school, I was intimidated by a memory of a 5th grader who told me “no one will ever like you”. I allowed her to carry that ammunition against me throughout our years in school because I thought she was right. My guess is if I had told her about that day in 5th grade, she wouldn’t remember what I was talking about; but for me, I can still feel the pain of that recess showdown. The memory alone kept me in my “place” because I didn’t want to get rejected again. It’s amazing how simple words can cause so much pain. (There really is no foundation to that “sticks and stones” nursery rhyme, is there?) The worst part about the 5th grade incident is that even at 14, or even by 18 years old, I couldn’t rationalize that pain. Talking to “popular” kids, making friends, and so many other situations in high school, I allowed fear to control my choices. I didn’t choose out of deep desire to do things or not do things, make friends or not make friends; I chose the path of least resistance. I chose the road more traveled. If I was to go back in time, I don’t know if I would chose differently because my experiences make me who I am, but this time, I would choose out of desire, not fear.
“Live fearlessly” is the philosophy on which my friend runs her life coaching business here in San Diego (www.tiffanybernard.com). I love this philosophy more than I love warm, home-made chocolate chip cookies. Live fearlessly sounds adventurous, romantic, and challenging, but I always find it inspiring and strengthening. If I were to encourage high school girls to start somewhere, it would be there- live fearlessly. It may be uncomfortable to try and there is a chance for rejection, but the reward is so much greater than the risk. You can look back and say that you lived the life you chose to live, not the life that fear chose for you. Until next time…