I remember being told as a child that I should always surround myself with people who I admire, who I want to be most like. I struggled with this because I wanted to be friends with everyone, liked by everyone. But I wasn’t, and this hurt me. Nobody ever wants to feel like their not enough, that their inadequate, that their personality horrifies another person.
I always claimed that I was the type of person who didn’t care what other people thought about me, but I did, I still do. I wanted people’s approval, couldn’t stand harsh comments whispered in the hallway, felt my heart breaking when my middle school crush didn’t ask me to dance at the Sadie Hawkins Dance. I wanted to be accepted, liked, appreciated.
I can be ridiculously oversensitive. If someone flips me off while I’m driving it honestly affects my entire day, parents of student’s who openly dislike me and tell the world hurt me to the core, when someone’s actions show just how little they care about me or another person is something that hurts me most of all. I know that this is one of my downfalls, an unattractive trait to people, but I can’t help it.
There are a lot of cruel people in this world. I’m a firm believer that there’s good in everyone, and maybe that gets me into trouble. I want to be the person who lets someone feel wanted, needed, appreciated, loved. I hate when I can’t be, when my message isn’t received, when the hurt isn’t fading and then I feel like it’s my fault. I get attached to people easily, I love easily, I want to see everyone happy.
I’m thankful for the people in my life who understand me, who don’t make me feel horrible when I’ve invested too much, when I cry for no reason at all; because I do. I have plenty of faults, I know I’m oversensitive, hurt too easily, way too vulnerable. But at least I care.
A lot of people say, “ugh, I could never do what you do” when they hear that I’m a teacher. I know that it’s not for everyone, but for me it’s like air. Right down to the smell of school supplies, the light in a child’s eyes when they finally get a concept, the feeling of little arms around me when we’ve returned from a long vacation. These kids, whether they know it or not allow me to completely be myself. I can be oversensitive because they are too, I can care too much because they need someone in their life that does, I can cry for no reason because more often than not I have at least one child having a meltdown at all times. I love them, every one of them, and am so thankful for them. When I’m teaching I don’t have to think about the latest heartbreaking news segment on CNN, Dementia support groups, heartbreak, people who have let me down. I’m just happy.
It makes me laugh when I think about the words that my grandmother said to me over and over about faking it until I make it, about surrounding myself with good, having a circle of friends who I wanted to be like. My circle of friends now is certainly smaller, reduced to people I genuinely love, who I think bring out the very best in me. The people I spend my days with are certainly smaller as well, usually around 9 and 10.
I’m thankful for people, more than anything. Our bodies are constantly changing, our health, thoughts, seasons, relationships; they all have moments that are unsteady, rocky. I love to be alone sometimes, to spend a night in with a bottle of wine, a hot shower, a brand new book and an oversized sweatshirt.
But there are times that I just need another person to be there, to lift up my spirits, to tell me to cut it out, give me a hug, kiss me longer than they should because we’re lonely and the moment is right. I need that sometimes, and I’m so grateful for these people who just get me.
I’ve been trying lately to mend things that I’ve broken, apologize for the things that I’ve destroyed, for the different mistakes that I’ve made and to the people that I’ve hurt. It’s okay if they’ve decided that I’m one of those people in their lives that they don’t need, I need to accept that I can’t be enough for everyone, that not everyone needs to like me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, said things that I regret, cut people out who I shouldn’t have. I can’t blame people for wanting to forget me, but I won’t lie, it still stings. How hypocritical is that?
The holiday season always forces me to reflect, to reevaluate. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was time that I was able to feel extra connected to my family, especially my father. I guess I just want to be someone that he can be proud of, that my parents respect, a person who has legitimately earned respect for good reasons. In some instances, I don’t think that I have.
I’m trying to turn myself around, to focus on the good, to make amends and do what makes me happy no matter the consequences, no matter what others think of me. I’ve been listening to music way too loud on my way to work, going out for a drink with friends when I’d rather stay in, buying bright yellow tulips every week because they make me the happiest. I’m going to decorate for Christmas even though it reminds me of my father, because I’ve always loved it and that shouldn’t change.
I have so much, I really do, more than a lot of people. I need to remember that, focus on that, think every single day about how lucky I am to have people in my life who both love and respect me.
I’m going to surround myself with people who make me better.