One of my goals for the new year is to have a consistent blogging schedule, and I’ll let you know when I actually get around to formulating that 🙂 For now, I am going to stay with the “write it if it’s on your heart” strategy.
Let’s first, start with a story from the Carlson archives – it’s a long one. What a surprise. #talkstoomuch.
It was a typical day at a normal high school, we were a few weeks away from the annual Homecoming dance and everyone was bustling around talking about outfits, dates, limos and dinners. I was quietly having a burst of anxiety, like I did EVERY single year when one of these social dances came around. Who was going to be my date? Did I need a date? Where was I going to find a dress I actually liked? Oh no, was I going to have to actually dance? What if someone awkwardly wanted to SLOW DANCE with me?! All of these silly little questions plagued most every high school teenager’s mind but somehow I always felt so alone in this feeling.
I was an introvert through and through, and a shy one at that. Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy necessarily, but I was just a two for one special- you got both an awkwardly quiet girl AND an introvert who hated social gatherings! What a WIN! I never drank, never smoked, never stepped foot inside a high school party.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of this chatter was the discussion of Homecoming court. Every year when this big dance approached, I always had dreams of being on homecoming court. I always wanted to be a cheerleader but never had the courage to try out, always wanted to be on student council but never felt like my public speaking skills were up to par, and I always felt that if one year I could JUST make it on homecoming court that maybe I would finally feel like I had reached a certain level of social accomplishment. You know when you reach a new life goal on the Sims… something like that.
– I’ve always been a dreamer after all –
Well this particular year, without any prompting, I remember my friend Lindsey told me that she was going to nominate me! (love that sweet girl!) My instant gut reaction (and I can still feel it in my stomach today) was a mix of nerves, excitement and embarrassment all rolled into one. Oh my goodness this could be my year! I could have the coveted title of being on Homecoming Court and maybe even be QUEEN! I’ve always been a dreamer after all. Just the mere mention of one person saying they were going to drop my name in the nomination bucket just instantly opened all of the doors in my head. The excitement continued over the course of the next few weeks until it reached its ultimate peak in my first period class when the names for court were going to be announced!! I remember sitting in my desk , 3rd row from the left, in the middle, tapping my feet against the cold non-carpeted floor, staring at the intercom speaker in the room, waiting patiently as the morning announcements ran their normal routine.
Clubs and activities, nope didn’t care…. FCAT dates… definitely didn’t care….. Homecoming updates and court announcements.. OH YES, DEFINITELY CARED!! I clasped my hands together, which if I remember correctly were a little clammy due to nerves, looked over at Lindsey and smiled as they started naming off the list. Each name was read and I felt like my ears were experiencing tunnel vision, if ears could have vision…. honing in closer and closer on each and every syllable as it made it’s way through the speaker….
All names were announced.
– Allow them to give you reason to prove your own thoughts wrong –
I must not have heard them all correctly, with all that “ear tunnel vision” and all. Where was my name? Surely because I had dreamed about and had a friend sweet enough to nominate me, that it was going to magically come true! I remember looking back at Lindsey and she shrugged and half smiled, and inside I felt completely and utterly defeated. Some of you might be reading this and laughing, or thinking “Being on homecoming court isn’t everything” But at that time, it was SO important to me. It was just one of those moments that make you feel like you aren’t good enough, and no matter how much wishful thinking you do that you will never be good enough. It was hard and I never felt more uncool.
If you were expecting a happy end to that story, there absolutely is one! It just comes a bit later, and it doesn’t involve me running away with the homecoming queen crown atop my head, breaking it off into a little bitty pieces for everyone to enjoy like she did in Mean Girls.
That particular “accomplishment”, no matter how trivial and superficial it seems now, was one that was important to me, but it was just not in the cards at the time. It was the first of many times that I had a vision in my head that didn’t go exactly the way that I had planned and as a result, a feeling of disappointment was present. That little scenario was such microcosm of so many reoccurring situations in life where we feel inadequate as we work towards reaching a goal. There is always someone in front of us, excelling and doing amazing things, while we sit back and feel like we just aren’t doing enough, and that we will never being doing enough. We aren’t social enough, we aren’t smart enough we aren’t “insert adjective here” enough. Whatever your word is, I encourage you to go ahead and let that word soak in, and absorb it with grace. I have recently learned that I don’t like to tell myself to ignore feelings of negativity, because I equate that to telling yourself the best way to diet is to cut all your favorite foods out cold turkey. At least for me, that’s a recipe (or lack thereof) for disaster.
Don’t simply ignore the negative words and thoughts, allow them to give you a reason to prove your own thoughts wrong.
- If we could all just look at ourselves through another’s eyes –
That same introverted little highschooler who was mopey about homecoming court, is now the same girl that goes to social gatherings and talks to complete strangers, who gives presentations in front of an entire room of people and who sits and has dreams of speaking at photography conferences. These things still, of course, make me nervous a little, but I decided at some point that I was going to embrace my introvert side and focus on the strengths of the type of personality I was given. At the end of the day, we are who we are, and there is little that we can do to change that.
I learned that my years of being super shy and awkward gave me some phenomenal listening skills. I also gained a great knowledge of how people operated emotionally simply by sitting back all the time and being a fly on the wall in conversations. To me, at the time, those were weaknesses, but as time went on I started to realize that the same characteristics I viewed as flaws, other’s viewed as strengths. If we could all just take time to look at ourselves through another’s eyes, we would be so much better for it.
I would encourage you today to chat with someone you trust, and genuinely ask them what they think your strengths and weaknesses are and compare them to the list you have already formed in your head. How to do they compare? What are the differences and similarities?
Don’t be so hard on yourself 🙂 We all have a “homecoming court” story that stands out in our memory. Use that moment to fuel you, empower you and inspire you to be the person you want to be.