Love Yourself

You are a marvel (with or without your bright orange socks).


“I am warning you guys now that I probably won’t be hanging out with you as much anymore,” a 10-year-old version of myself explained to my two next-door neighbors. “I am going to be wearing really bright colors to school so the popular girls will notice me.

I figured out the key to being popular in the fourth grade. Forget kindness, throw out “being yourself.” The secret to popularity was wearing bright colors: reflector orange, neon green, hot pink. I was absolutely certain, so much that I hinged my hopes and dreams of being worthwhile to a group of four girls on a variety of highlighter colors. I forced my mother into buying the most obnoxious colored clothing, too outlandish for even the rainbow, so that I could attempt to stand out, get noticed and sit with the cool girls at lunch.

Well it worked.

I still don’t know how a rail thin child coated with freckles and frizzies, donning a neon plaid “skort,” got to sit at the popular table. But being popular in the fourth grade is the same as being popular at the age of 21. It means nothing if you are not true to yourself.

A lot of us deserve Academy Awards for pulling off performances better than Sandra Bullock. We spend days and months and years of our lives pretending to be people that we are not, living in an image that binds us into being and acting a certain way. We have this innate desire to please those around us and one of the easiest ways to do so seems to be through suppressing who we truly are in order to cultivate what is pleasing to the eyes of others. We want to be skinnier for other people, be more stand-out in a crowd, more wild and mysterious. Can you see the parade going by already? Yes, the very parade where our true selves go shackled and weeping into the dungeon because we would rather be what everyone else expects of us…

I have struggled with perfectionism for a long while now. Not even the need to be perfect for myself, but the need to be perfect for other people. The Need To Hold It All Together. To Never Disappoint. To Never Come Undone. In the past it has never been good enough to simply be me. I never believed that anyone would want to know the real Hannah, the one who is more introverted than extroverted, the one who finds more thrill in a great novel than she does for a party on a Saturday night, the one whose mind never shuts off with ways in which she could make the world better. I scoffed at compliments that people gave me thinking they must have been mistaken. I nearly cried in hilarity when someone would call me “gorgeous” or “beautiful.”

It is sad but true that we find ways to make our own selves worthless in this world. We should be embracing our souls, scooping them up in our arms and squeezing them tight, basking in the fact that we have a thrilling and exciting life that is all our own. We should be jumping up and down and doing little jigs for the fact that we are different from one another; you have stunning and remarkable qualities that I will never possess, I have traits and characteristics that would never suit you. Our differences bind us together. Our uniqueness makes up this very space. Our individualism allows the globe to spin, for people to love, for hands to reach out and for change to prosper. You reach in one direction, I reach in another. We touch base with one another through the fact that we touch separate parts of this world.

Something clicked in my head. The purpose is not to strive for popularity (though being well liked is not a bad thing), the purpose is to strive to do our part, to make our lives into something, and this can only be done if we truly accept what we have been given to work with. It is as Pablo Casals once said, “Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move.

You see, lately I don’t sleep as well I used to and I know exactly why. I am far too exhilarated to close my eyes, knowing that I love my life far better than any dream. My focus is no longer on perfection; my focus is on passion, on impacting others. I can change people’s lives with words. I can smile at a stranger and alter their day. I can extend my heart and my arms, my legs and my soul. The ripples come. They are greater than I may ever know.

So let me be unpopular if it means I traded it in for happiness. Let me be imperfect it allows me to know that I serve my purpose just fine.  Let me be, just let me be, if at the end of the day, that means I am me.

**And just so we know that no exaggerations were made… Here is the picture of my first day of fourth grade… ready for the school bus… I don’t think you will have any difficulty in locating me.

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20 thoughts on “You are a marvel (with or without your bright orange socks).

  1. This was INCREDIBLE, Hannah. It is a topic I’ve been dealing with quite often lately, and you summed it up perfectly: “So let me be unpopular if it means I traded it in for happiness. Let me be imperfect it allows me to know that I serve my purpose just fine. Let me be, just let me be, if at the end of the day, that means I am me.” Growing up, I spent far too much time trying to be someone else if it meant being surrounded by other people. Now, in my mid-twenties, I’ve reached a point where I’m okay being unpopular. Where I’m okay with ‘friends’ deciding to cut me out of their lives because I voice my concerns and feelings with honesty, in a world where people are so quick to hide behind masks and personas. I’m okay with being by myself, if it means I stay true to who I am.

    Thank you for writing this 🙂

    • Glad you got so much out of it Emily! It has been on my mind a lot lately as well. Staying true to myself, at the end of the day, makes everything else seem irrelevant. Hope all is well love.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  2. This is just awesome. I know I always say it but you take my breath away with your words! So much so that I don’t even know WHAT to say in response to it, just because it seems everything has been said. This is a lesson I’ve been learning too, that embracing myself if much better than trying to be anything for anybody else. I’ve come so far in just a couple years (though I still struggle occasionally.) I feel like I’ve really gotten to know myself and I’ve figured out that I am worthwhile just how I am, without a need to make me better or change me or modify me to suit someone’s else’s ideals. I am just me, and I don’t want to be anyone else! Such an exhilerating post, Hannah. Just beautiful.

    • Thanks for letting your positive and upbeat attitude rub off on my today Lisa ha ha. Thank you once again, your critiques always mean so much to me.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  3. I couldn’t agree more. It’s so important to be true to yourself and make yourself proud. I love that you wore bright neon colors..that’s so cute and fun!

  4. This was so beautiful, Hannah. I’m a firm believer that high school is not that much different from the real world. We all strive to be popular just as much then as we do now. And we encounter the same type of people in high school as we do in the real world.

    But I’m also a firm believer in being yourself. And who I am is not a popular girl. I’m not someone who is going to amass tons of friends and spend my weekend nights, living it up on the town. I live a quiet life and I like my quiet life. If it means less friends and being less popular, I’m OK with that. Whoever said being popular was going to make you happy anyway?

  5. Excellent post. I definitely went through a phase where I put on a facade for other people. It lasted through my entire elementary school, and one night I cried because I didn’t remember who I was anymore. In high school, I realized I could be me and still have friends, be popular, be loved. It was the best thing to ever happen to me, because I lost the need for a facade and started truly being me. I think I was really lucky, because I can totally see it going the other way – that I would end up as a shapeshifter my entire life and the facade would just extend deeper and deeper.

    • Thanks for coming by and thank you for the compliment!

      It is really good that you figured that out in high school, most people, including myself, don’t learn the lesson until way later.. I am a senior in college and just now realizing it.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  6. Hi Hannah- I just recently found your blog. This entry is great. Those photos alone got me, but the writing and topic is great, too.

    Just wanted to say hi, and let you know I’ll be reading, lurking, commenting.

    Hi!

    • Thank you so much for leaving the comment! Always so good to hear from those who are reading and enjoying the blog. I am glad you are liking it, it means so much to hear that. Hope to hear from ya soon.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  7. Pingback: Unmasked «

  8. What a beautiful beautiful post, Hannah! And I absolutely agree. I too enjoy a book and a quiet night in more than a party but in my late teens and early 20s, I thought I had to enjoy partying and went out quite frequently (no every weekend but often enough) just because that’s what you do when you’re that age. Now I do not do that anymore, and the last time I did go to a club I did not enjoy it very much (I probably should have just said no but couldn’t resist the experience of going to a club in NYC, which, as it turns out, isn’t any better than or too different from going to a club in Europe). But except for that, I have really learned to accept myself the way I am, and not to be ashamed of how I am. If someone really is my friend they accept me the way I am, if they can’t, they never were much of a friend to begin with.

  9. mom says:

    i absolutely love this story speaks volumes to multitudes and the pic at the end you are so funny please print i can’t do it without a guestname or something & password

  10. So beautiful and so very true!
    Thank you for that Hannah!
    In reading your post, I cannot help imagining what kind of world we would have if we learned to suspend our judgement of everyone including ourselves. Learning to embrace our true selves can only lead us to learn to embrace everyone else, and what a world that would be!
    Thank you so much for contributing to that happy ending!

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