What matters most is how you see yourself. That’s the lesson in a nutshell. I touched on this a little in my post titled, “A Better Day”.
I’m coming at the topic from a different angle, observing my cats. My five year old cat, Smokey doesn’t know how big he is. He’s a bit skittish and shy. He climbs up on my chest to cuddle. (A lap isn’t good enough.) When he does that, I have to put down my laptop, or else he walks on the keyboard and, invariably, messes things up. (For example, he once deactivated the keyboard. It took till the next day to figure out that you could still hit shift + enter to get it back, though it seemed like nothing on the keyboard was working. Another time, he turned the screen display 90°. I didn’t even know you could do that. I was able to go into the display menu and turn it back from portrait to landscape, though it remains a mystery how he did it with just the keyboard.) Also, I can barely see the TV over him when he’s sitting on me.
Enter Rex the much smaller, younger little guy my brother and I adopted about a year ago. Rex is a sweetheart and after about ten days, Smokey accepted him and they get along nicely now. However, Rex is a little troublemaker at times, picking on the gentle giant, Smokey. It’s only in play, but he gets a little carried away and makes his house mate squeal sometimes. Then we have to separate them and scold Rex, sometimes even close him in a room for a while. The thing is, Smokey could easily kick Rex’s ass. He has learned to assert himself, and the problem has slowly gotten better. So, I guess Smokey gets to a point where he’s had enough.
I share these feline antics as a way of relating my own experiences. I was shy and timid in school, and socially awkward. Add to that my rather small stature, and you’ve got an easy target for teasing.
Like Smokey, I didn’t realize how big I was. Not physically, but intellectually, emotionally, and personality speaking. I was blessed with a brilliant mind, a bright and generous heart, and a lovable, witty, fun spirit. None of this came out until young adulthood. I started coming out of my shell somewhat the last two years of high school, but was still kind of a lost puppy. (Awww) It’s okay. It got better.
Today, I still come across as reserved, and social anxiety does hold me back until I get to know people better, but the shyness and the fear are gone. Physical lack of energy is a problem at times too, with sleep apnea and Crohn’s disease, but caffeine helps. ha ha
I don’t resent any of the teasing I took in school because it actually did help push me to change. I realized after getting my associate’s degree in my early 20’s that I had played right into the teasing, making it all to easy. (Not saying it was my own fault. Just saying I could have changed things.) I was also very alone in my two years at community college, for all the same reasons. I had no problems with the intellectual aspects at all, but yet was completely burned out at the end. It made me start analyzing. Why was it so hard? To quote John Donne, “No man is an island”. I needed a support system. How does one build something you’ve never known? Where to start….
An epiphany came one day at the mall. Maybe some of you remember the mall store called Deck the Walls. They sold art and photo prints and the like. I saw a small matted picture of a kitten looking into a mirror. The text read “What matters most is how you see yourself”. Reflected in the mirror, is a lion. It really struck home, so I took it home. I mean, after I paid for it, of course. I still have it as a reminder.
It made me see more clearly than ever how one’s persona is perceived by others as a reflection of your own inner image. Confidence, satisfaction, contentment, happiness. All things I lacked, therefore did not project. What I got back from others was a direct correlation to what I was carrying and exuding, or not.
I was just coming into my own in my late 20’s when I hit some health problems. Getting to work became all-consuming and I eventually had to take a break from it. Then, I didn’t get much social contact, but things are going much better now. I sometimes feel like I end up being put in that old “box”, where he’s the shy, quiet guy. Or, my anxiety makes me feel uncomfortable and pushes people away. (Nobody likes to feel uncomfortable.) The good news is, I feel like I’m ready to Bust That Box! (I believe I found the topic of my next post.)
Til then, keep going and keep growing!