Recently something happened that I am still trying to process. It feels as if that little insecure girl came back out of no where in a split second and has lingered restlessly for more than a week now. I make an effort to go to mixers each week to meet people in hopes of drumming up new business opportunities. At a recent event I ran into someone I vaguely knew, there was a group of us around and I was chatting about something when this person made a goofy reference to my speech impediment (lisp) like the first graders in grade school used to do. It only lasted a split second, I acted as if I did not hear it, finished my conversation and moved on. It didn’t seem apparent that anyone noticed the reference or my discomfort but in that moment everything I felt in grade school came back to me full fold as if it were yesterday. Most of you who know me have noticed my lisp, it is very evident when I speak and I am full aware of it, it is something I really struggled with as a child. It only affects me when I allow it to in my own mind, I have a choice. It comes to my attention from time to time but with age I have learned it is just one of those things I accept as a gift to be different. While I don’t enjoy seeing myself on camera and hated being interviewed numerous times by the media when ReTune Nashville was in full force, I accept this flaw and usually do not allow it to affect me personally. So why did this silly little incident resonate within me in such a way?
As a child my speech impediment was very hard to deal with (referenced in the earlier 3/2/10 Thinking Diva post). It made me feel different, it made me stand out and kids were often brutal when it came to embarrassing me around others, I was different and they wanted to be sure that I knew it. What we don’t realize when we are young is that being different is not a bad thing, that judgement by others shouldn’t matter and that often those differences cause us to be stronger, more motivated and successful people because we work harder despite our misgivings. I feel as if my experiences with these unkind kids as a child made me tougher on the outside even though on the inside I was insecure and sad. I don’t remember talking to my parents as a kid about these issues and I don’t recall ever sharing my sadness with any of my friends. I believe this is the normal way we deal with painful things as children because we don’t want to bring any more attention to the already uncomfortable issue. I have to wonder if those unkind kids showed any signs of their nastiness at home in front of their parents or were they also able to keep those traits invisible from their parents recognition.
As this reminder was presented to me at this mixer, in the moment, deep inside me, the first thought was embarrassment, it was as if a gun went off and triggered those horrible low self-esteem thoughts I had about myself as a first grader. Within a split second my next thought was, FU you immature jerk. Yes, that is what I thought in the moment and then I tried to let it go. Now, over a week later I am unsure why I am still thinking about this silly little incident but I am pondering the possibility that I am supposed to learn something from this reminder of my past. I don’t believe it has anything to do with the way I talk because I can’t change that but I do believe it is important for me to remind myself to love me for who I am. That is where I have to continue nurturing my self, to realize I have a choice to make what others say mean something or to allow myself to make it mean nothing. Again I am reminded of the power of our thoughts.
As we all know our world today is much different than it was 30+ years ago. I have thought endlessly the past week about the difficulties young kids must be dealing with when it comes to self-esteem and self-worth. With FB and the internet so prevalent, the unkindness of others can cover a much larger spectrum making an already sad individual feel much more horrible about themselves. We have all heard of the word “Bullying” in the media and it has lead to incredibly devastating events in our society such as suicide and murder. In my day, low-self esteem or a fight was what came from others acting out in an unkind way. I have never understood why an individual feels it is necessary to talk down to a person, to humiliate or to be mean to another person. I do realize there are times when we act this way in defense of someone else acting in the same manner but I have never seen it help the matter at hand in a positive way. Perhaps my mother reminding me as a child to always act toward others as I would want them to act towards me gave me some insight. To put myself in the other persons shoes and think about what that might feel like before I say or do something toward someone else. Perhaps these simple reminders as a child helped me to become the kind and generous person I feel I am now.
Today’s tv seems to exude negativity and that in turn seems to create negativity in our culture. Why can’t we all just live from kindness and with love towards each other. Why do we have to be in everyone else’s business and why can’t we take accountability for our own actions rather than always blaming others? I have to believe that unkindness and judgement by others is mimicked in some way by how they were treated growing up, by what they learn at home, by what they are watching on tv and by what they learn from others. I am not a parent so forgive me if this is out of line but is it really possible to NOT see ugly traits in our kids if they do exist, perhaps they are not seen because they exist in the one looking? I often wonder how much time parents are spending in the lives of their kids, what are they allowing their kids to watch on tv or to do in their spare time. I believe if we were better role models, kinder individuals and lived with integrity, others would want to mimic those things because they would see the inner happiness those things bring to the individuals who possess them. If we stopped watching all the negative things on tv and decided to spend quality time sharing kindness and love with each other how different could our lives be? I wish every person out there would learn what the word integrity means and for once live within it. If those folks who feel it necessary to hurt or insult others would transform that negativity into kindness imagine the possibilities.
Maybe I have gotten off on a tangent here but it all seems to come down to what I continue to speak from…love and kindness = happiness. I won’t allow myself to be a victim, to feel sorry for myself or to feel less of a person because of what someone else did that made me uncomfortable. My goal is to share my often uncomfortable experiences with others in hopes of making one person out there make a step towards being a better and happier person within themselves. Weather you were OR are the bully or the bullied remind yourself that you and others deserve kindness. Put yourself in the others shoes and take a look at what that might feel like. If you have anger inside towards someone else consider letting it go and see what can happen once it leaves you. Most of all remember we get out of life what we give. If we are unhappy we are probably making others unhappy too and will continue to be unhappy. If we are living in anger we are more than likely making others angry as well and will continue to be angry. Change the cycle and make a difference, you have that choice.
I feel completely comfortable in my life right now because I make an effort every day to be kind and to be happy on the inside and out, it is my cognitive choice, it feels good and I want all of you to feel that goodness too. Take a moment to think, to be quiet, to feel and to be. Life is a gift, we are here to share, to love and to learn but most of all to be happy. Sending love out to all of you…pass it on!