This article is slightly longer than most. I apologize in advance and ask that this doesn't prevent you from reading.
I want to be that person who radiates confidence.
You all know who I'm talking about. They're the guy who walks with his head up high and his shoulders back, looking like he can take on the world. They're that girl who knows her own beauty, inside and out, and yet somehow is still so humble and kind. They're even that gender neutral kid who is unafraid to be, and express, who they are.
I want to be that person, but I'm anything but.
Instead, I am the insecure one. The shy artist who is afraid to speak up in class, and prefers to keep her headphones in while she works.
How did I get here? How did I go from being a kid who knew who she was and what she wanted to, well, this? A young adult so scared and unsure of everything she ever thought she knew about herself?
Well, really it's been a decade of things piling up. Literally, a decade. I decided to look back and think "when exactly did I start to doubt myself?" and found out it started in the 4th grade. According to my mother, I was in the 4th grade in 2007, which means I have been losing confidence in myself for 10 years.
It started with small things. In the 4th grade, I remember listening to one of my favorite artists at the time, Toby Mac, and singing along under my breath at lunch. I recall my 'friends' laughing at me, and asking me what I was doing. My friends, who I called my best friends at the time, were making fun of me. That devastated me. Near the end of the year I recall telling my two best friends what boy I liked, and they both laughed and ran off across the playground in opposite directions yelling "I'M GONNA TELL HIM!". I never lived that down until high school, honestly. It followed me for years.
The 5th grade came around, and that was when I started to struggle with assignments. I remember the teacher constantly putting me on the wall at recess (that was my school's 'detention'. If you missed a certain amount of assignment you would sit on the wall at recess for 10 or 20 min, and sometimes all of recess). I also recall a time, it was Red Ribbon Week to be exact, and there were two times that week that stick out in my memory. The first was "Crazy Hair Day" and back then my hair was long, so I woke up with messy hair. That day I went to school without brushing my hair, it was "Crazy Hair Day" after all. I was sitting in class, and my teacher asked me, with a laugh in his voice, what I did to my hair that day. My teacher laughed at me, along with some students. The other time that week was "Hat Day" and I wore my hat backwards, because I thought it was more comfortable. Again, my good 'friends' laughed at me and said I should stop "trying to act gangster".
There are other things in middle school, but they're a bit more personal and I'd rather not have them on the internet forever.
Middle school came at it only got worse. (This is getting long so I'll try to keep it shorter). On my first day of 6th grade, I took the bus home even though my mother could easily pick me up (we lived minutes away from the school). I lived a sheltered life, so I didn't know anything about being gay, or what it was or even what a lesbian was. I didn't know lesbians called their romantic girlfriends their lady friends. To me, an awkward 6th grader, girlfriend meant you were dating so I called my friends my lady friends; and on that bus ride home I was asked by my best friend at that time if I was a lesbian. When I said no, she laughed, and told everyone I was.
I never rode the bus home for years, unless I HAD to.
I stopped participating in school spirit weeks, and had lost interest in boys. yet people would pick on me. I, apparently, had multiple boyfriends, none of whom I knew I had. I was the target for a lot of bullying and torment, over stupid things like boys, hair, and my clothes. It was constant all throughout middle school and even into high school. The bullying changed from targeting my appearance to targeting my personality. I got called a whore. People made fun of me for being in band, and loving art. There are more specific stories I could get into, but they're all very similar.
People whom I had trusted once took what they knew about me and used it against me to tear me apart, piece by piece, until I was nothing but scraps of fabric all over the floor.
Now, I've tried to stitch myself back together. Like i said at the beginning I WANT to be, so desperately, that person who radiates confidence. I want people to be able to look at me and think "Wow! She really likes who she is." or something like that. But it is so difficult. It is difficult to put yourself back together after years of being torn apart.
But, even so, I will not stop trying until I truly do love the person I am, and will become. I will be that person who radiates confidence. One day.