I’ve spent a lot of time throughout my life trying to please other people.
As a kid, I was taught to do as I was told and pay attention in class, and I’d get a pat on the head and a gold star.
As a teenager, I had some pretty unfortunate friends who labelled me the “quiet one”. They weren’t terrible people, but they constantly put me down and anytime I tried to state an opinion, I’d get a pat on the head and an “oh dear, Michelle is trying to speak up, isn’t that cute?” My personality wasn’t wanted there, either.
As a young adult in university and college, I was in a couple of unfortunate relationships. One that was highly toxic, wherein he completely suffocated my personality in all ways – trying to make me what he wanted (which was apparently, a clone of himself). One that wasn’t as bad, but we spent all of our time together, so our personalities became one.
I am twenty-five years old and I have no idea who I am.
Any smidgen of my own personality traits that crept through before were just fan-obsessions. I was “the girl who loved musicals” and I threw myself and my entire life into being a musical fan-girl. I was “the girl who loved books”, so I threw myself entirely into being a giant book nerd with the biggest shelf.
Recently, I’ve discovered that being in constant competition with others in this way is almost as toxic as being smothered by peers who are trying to keep you down. I was trying to be the best at these things that I loved, and know the most, and read the most, and be involved in those communities, and along the way, I realized I’d never had the opportunity to find out who I was without these things.
So I stripped them away.
No more friends who keep me quiet and tell me I can never be “that girl who goes on adventures” or “the girl who changes history” or “the girl who demands the attention of the room”. No more hobbies that keep me in competition with a community of people who fight to be the biggest fan of anything.
I’m trying to figure out who I am, and am lucky enough to be in a position where I am surrounded by amazingly supportive friends and have a boyfriend who doesn’t want to change me, and who isn’t threatened by me wanting to be something more than “the quiet girl”.
What have I discovered so far?
I was told my whole life I was too weak to be athletic. I just ran a 5k last month.
I was told growing up that I was smart and was better than pretty “girly” girls. I can be both smart and girly. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy makeup and clothes. And shoes. I like putting things in my head, but I can also like what I put on it.
I was told video games were for boys and I would never be good enough to play with other people. I play video games on my own now, and have a lot of fun shooting aliens. Being good isn’t important.
Basically, I’m discovering a whole lot of hobbies that I was constantly pushed away from, and they’re all things that make up the real Michelle – the one who is doing what makes her happy, not doing things because people tell her to do them (or not do them).
I’m hoping this blog is a reflection of everything I am. Not just one thing. I contain multitudes.
So goodbye, quiet girl. It was nice knowing you, but now it’s my time to shine.