We all have our birthmarks (if you didn’t read Julia’s part 1 of the story, do so here)
I’m taking you to 9th grade, in Finnish school system this would mean the age of 15 or 16. I had organized a positive group bonding activity for my class: everyone had a piece of paper with their name written on it, then the papers got passed around the room so that everyone would get a chance to write something positive about each person.
My game turned against me.
I don’t remember any of the positive comments, just this one particular one has stuck to my head so that 9 years later I still remember it: “You are always so bossy and commanding people around”. Wait – what? I’m totally missing the positive point in this one here. I looked over to my “friend”, who just gave me a despising grin and seemed like she was definitely not feeling any regret about what she had written. In fact, my other “friend” in class just laughed with her and confirmed her statement to be true. The whole class now knew what she had written. And I thought to myself, they probably all agreed.
Like in your birthmark story, this was just a stupid, selfish comment of another person. But to me it said that the way I naturally behaved was somehow wrong. At this point in life I was interested in politics, theatre and music. I was always in the leader group organizing school events, plays and trips, performing in bands and acting in the local drama group. Through an official election I became one of the representatives in the local youth council, in which we organized small festivals and other activities for the young people in our town, as well as representing the political voice of the youth, who not yet had an opportunity to vote. In school I was the one who would take the lead when nothing was happening or moving forward, or if I felt something was unjust, I would disagree with whom ever I had in front of me, in most cases a teacher. (Some could also call this a problem with authority?)
That’s how I was – hungry for change, and enjoyed being able to influence things. I was always up for debating and getting my opinions and views known. A flipping warrior I was. My dream was to become a politician and fighting for the ones, who were too weak to speak for themselves. But then in one instant I let myself being shut to the chest by some stupid comment of a jealous 16-year-old.
Sadly, other people’s acceptance became more and more important to me. I started to behave the way i thought i should. Kept my mouth shut more often. I decided, I want to give others the chance to come forward and take things on. Slowly but surely, I let those things that were the core of me die inside, just to fit in and mix in with the crowd.
I grew tired of fighting. No more politics, what’s the point of that anyway? No more singing, no one wants to hear my voice. No more school council, no more of putting myself into organizing groups. I just wanted to hide. No one cared about my views anyway. I figured that if I would just become more normal, people would like me more. Truth is, no one noticed and no one cared. And also, the things we had started a few years ago as a group of young people and moved forward just died. Activities stopped. Youth council became like an inactive senior that went unnoticed and one sad day just passed away.
Sometimes I wish I could get back my childish mind, the one that believes it can achieve everything, that every barrier can be overcome. The attitude of “my Dad is better than your dad”, behind which i could hide my own weakness and believe that with the help of the creator of the universe I can do anything. It would be more fun to be naive and dreamy, just going by the feel and chasing after what I believe is right. I want more of that. I want to reawaken the inner activist I know still is in me.
What I would say to my future daughter is: choose whom you listen to.
Don’t take in comments from people, who don’t know your full story, who don’t really know the real you, who have less life experience than you. Choose a couple of trusted people, whose opinion you let affect you. Because if you try to please everyone, you please no one. Ignore people who give feedback from a bad place, just to buff their own ego or to make them feel better about themselves. Even correcting advice should come from a place of love. And most importantly, never listen to the advice of a fellow teenager. Ever.
So if you happen to be someone with opinions, ideas and visions – don’t let anyone shoot you down, don’t let people rob you from your creativity and energy. Let your voice be heard and never shut that big mouth of yours!
Shake what you’ve got, sisters! Sha-shake it, shake – shake it!