I’m naturally a reflective person and starting writing this in the coffee shop of my youth didn’t help get me away from that. This week confidence became the theme of my remembrances.
I took the girls to their first school skate night, along with one of my oldest’s friend. I started out helping my five year old, but her independence soon pushed me away and I go to assume and observatory role. My oldest fascinated me as she interacted with her classmates. I had witnessed their interactions on field trips and birthday parties, but this was different. This was a glimpse into a new phase in her life: the tween/teen years when she would become more of her own person, defined by friends, teachers, and more interactions outside of her father and I. For once, the thought of her growing up didn’t scare me. I was more excited to see the awesome young adult she’ll become. My only tinge of trepidation and prayer is that we would be best friends, as I see other mothers and daughters become.
I also couldn’t help comparing this skating endeavor with a vivid memory from my early teen years. My mother consistently made me participate in youth group activities. Ironically, or maybe not, these were the most socially awkward and unaccepting times for me. I was a weird kid, there no way around it. I read more than talked, I was overweight, and my more dressed me in over sized t-shirts and jeans with cheap ridiculously huge glasses. Not an attractive look on anyone really. Meanwhile, the youth group crowd was part of what we often called the “prep” crowd, in other words the popular “normal” kids.
The skating trip outfit was particularly hideous. The t-shirt was a bright pink with an iron on picture of a teddy bear in a Victorian setting with puffy paint detailing. As my athletically inept ass fell all over the skating rink, I was painfully aware how pathetic I looked. I was determined to get better and I loved the music, so I tried to pretend I was unaware, but I sooo wasn’t.
Now for the the most part I really don’t care what others think of me. I danced stupidly at my kids as they skated with my head help high. So what changed? Or did I change at all?
In high school I was terrified to speak with anyone outside of my band/choir circle, but things slowly changed. Now I work with middle schoolers and laugh at myself, while still maintaining authority. I can’t say why the switch completely. Some of it came from outer sources as I started to buy my own clothes that I felt good in and finally having a boyfriend. Some of it came from realizing that everyone has their own insecurities and most of them are focused on their own issues more than on me. Most of all I credit my children. Once I had a life to care for, worrying about people’s opinions seemed silly. There were more important matters to contend with. So ultimately, my confidence came from caring for others and not worrying so much about myself!