Two wonderful bloggers, WiliKat and Doaleigh both blogged about inner beauty. They made wonderful points, and are great writers...go read them. I'll wait.
As I read Kat's recount of junior high life, I was taken back there myself. I knew her then (still do). I don't remember this too-skinny gangly girl. I remember long flowing blond hair and laughter. And smart, I remember that too. (See, how people remember your adolescence different than you do?)
About my own awkward junior high years, I remember trying to fit in. I remember a big school and lots of new people. I remember being in the middle of popularity (there were lots of kids much cooler than myself, for sure). I remember meanness. Fights. Threats.
I remember a girl calling me one night to warn me that another girl wanted to beat me up over my new "boyfriend." (It was a silly junior high boyfriend, we only talked on the phone and it had been one day since we decided to "date"). I was never good at hiding my feelings, immediately my parents knew that something was wrong. In my teenagey angst I had to tell them the whole story. I was mortified. Yes, I'm "dating" this boy, and now someone wants to beat me up. (Trust me when I say that fights happened once or twice a week in our junior high.) My parents were really cool about the situation. They helped me brainstorm a way out of it - skip history class (which this girl was in). That was the moment I learned I could always trust my parents with anything. Anything.
I played sports, which I think helped me to feel like I fit in. I do remember idolizing some kids, who seemed super cool. They turned out to not be that nice of people, they themselves idolized other kids. I had my own body issues, I just tried really hard to not let it show. I remember "compliments" from boys - things like "nice butt" and I soared. I look back and realize how shallow that was - of both them and me. Beauty is not based on physicality. My butt was a product of genetics and sports. My self worth was so much bigger than that.
Junior high was a time of change. Our bodies, minds, attitudes, and friendships were all changing. All at once. It was definitely a time of trial and error, perhaps a lot of errors. I remember the hurt of being shunned by those that I thought were cool. Although I'm sure I failed at times, I tried to never make anyone else feel shunned or ignored by my own actions.
When I felt out of place or not sure what was going on, I did my best to fake it.
I never had a major self-image defining moment. But, I did have other "ah-ha" moments during those formative years. As I settled into high school, I learned that not everyone is nice or honest. I learned how back-stabbing and catty girls can be. I learned that some people will do ANYTHING to fit in. I learned that I was not one of those people.
I learned that putting myself out there lead to wonderful rewards... After having several classes with J, and being in-class friends, I called her one night to go to a movie. She later told me how cool it was. "We always talked about hanging out, and you actually made it happen, you called me to do something." I learned I was a do-er.
Most importantly, I learned that no one has everything figured out. Ever. I remember coming home from school my junior year, in tears. A popular girl at school had been talking about her college and career plans. She knew exactly what she was going to be and how she was going to become it (she ended up dropping out of college). I was faltering between several different life plans and felt like I was doomed for failure. My mother patiently listened. She then told me about her graduating class. How the class president is now overweight, divorced, and doesn't have that great of a job. He peaked in high school, she said. Those other popular kids, they're the ones who come to the reunions looking to re-kindle old flames. Your dad & I, my mom said, weren't at the top of our class, but look where we are now (very happy and very successful). She reminded me that it isn't where you start, it's where you end up. As Kat's brother told her, my mother told me - some people peak in junior high or high school...and that's where they stay for the rest of their lives. That's their "high." Some of us are lucky to soar past that.
I believe that you have to keep looking forward, keep reaching up. That's how you grow into the most beautiful and wonderful person (inside and out) that you can be.