Not too long ago my parents recovered a collection of home videos from my childhood, and recently, myself and the rest of my family have been taking the time to watch them. It has been quite an experience watching footage of a baby me crawling across the carpet or taking my first steps, but the videos of myself that I find I am most interested in watching are the videos of me when I was a little older, around elementary school age.
As is demonstrated in the multitude of videos featuring me dancing around my kitchen and finding ridiculous ways to get the attention of the camera, I was an outgoing, funny, and lively young girl. I didn't shy away from being the center of attention and was something of a comedian when the camera was turned my way. However, the reason I found these videos so interesting to watch was not just because I found my younger self hilarious. Instead, I was fascinated by the smaller me's enormous personality, because it is such a deviation from the way I am now. This led me to wonder, where did that girl go?
High school is a difficult time for all who experience it. Students face pressure to do well in their classes and meet expectations so that they can get into a good college, which often results in massive amounts of stress and anxiety. However, there are other, social, factors that make high school feel like a battlefield, factors that I, personally, had a difficult time overcoming and still affect me to this day.
When I look back on my four years of high school I realize that I placed far too much importance on popularity and fitting in. I had a set group of friends throughout high school and our group could be considered decently popular, which, at the time, quelled my anxieties about being unliked or alone. Because of these anxieties, I was desperate to keep my friends, even it meant spending time with people I didn't like or didn't make me feel good about myself, and had to teach myself lessons like hiding my true self in order to fit in. This resulted in much unhappiness because many of the friends that I had chosen to be with weren't great at being friends. They were mean, selfish, and often tore me down instead of showing me the support an insecure teenager needed from her friends.
As a result of having mediocre friends, it was often hard to feel like I had a support system when it came to dealing with the problems every teenager faces. Insecurities and lack of understanding about my own body led to weight, which didn't help boost my confidence either. To add to this, my friends, who I believed to be skinnier and prettier than me would often express dislike for the way they looked, which led me to believe that I had no reason to be confident in myself.
This culture of insulting oneself also increased my insecurity, as it left me feeling like I wasn't permitted to have confidence in myself, and instead had to tear myself down whenever I got the chance. Reflecting these negative feelings about myself instead of promoting body positivity warped my mind and made me feel unable to like the skin I was living in. There was no one to tell me that I was allowed to let myself feel good, to look in the mirror and like the girl that looked back at me. Instead, I felt pressure to conform.
So, to answer the previously posed question of where the little girl in the home videos went, here's the answer:
She didn't disappear. She was simply torn down by too many people, especially herself.