Untamed: A Reflection

In Untamed by Glennon Doyle, there is a quote that has been resonating with me quite a bit lately:

“Ten is when we learn to be good girls and real boys. Ten is when children begin to hide who they are in order to become what the world expects them to be.”

When I was ten years old, I was in 5th grade. This was when I suddenly became aware of how different I was from some of the other kids around me. I remember showing up to school for pajama day is a Disney nightgown and feeling incredibly embarrassed as I realized everyone else was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I asked the teacher if I could go change and went to my gym locker and took out my gym clothes and put them on just so that I would fit in. It also suddenly occurred to me how different my clothes actually were because my parents could not afford the brand names. I remember asking my parents for the “newest cool sneakers” and they did their best but it was usually a knock off brand. This never mattered to me before but, it did in 5th grade because now I wasn’t part of the “normal” scheme of things and I started desperately wanting to fit in and be a good girl.

How did I try to fit in? I tried to get the clothes. I put the best posters in my locker from those tween magazines of the 90’s. I tried my best to make sure I was caught up on some of the popular programming but, I really never was. I usually enjoyed watching what my parents were watching. Thankfully they did watch Home Improvement so I did get to see Jonathan Taylor Thomas in action! I loved learning all the various subjects and did very well in school. I was still a book worm and used that as an escape. In fact, I was dominating the classroom reading challenge to the point where classmates were starting to make fun of me for doing nothing but reading. Apparently, geeky smart girls were really not a thing. Add in shy and quiet and you basically have me in a nutshell most of the time in 5th grade.

I tried my best to model what was put in front of me. I listened to all the popular music and enjoyed it. And I tried to follow all the rules that were expected of me. I had already fit into the unathletic category years ago but, prior to this I had enjoyed running around chasing classmates on the playground. It was like there was a sudden shift and you were no longer expected to run and play but instead sit, gossip, and do each others hair. It didn’t feel right to me but, I did it because that was one way in which I was able to fit in. I just wanted to fit in and be seen as normal and welcomed by everybody even if fitting in felt wrong to me.

The conforming continues after 5th grade. It just changes slightly. For instance, I was beginning to be taught that girls can be smart but, you shouldn’t be too smart. People won’t like you if you’re too smart. I honestly think that this is one of the reasons that I started really struggling in math. Not only couldn’t my brain understand it but at the time the outside world was pushing me to see girls who did not go into careers of math and science. Yes, it was happening more but, it was also within a certain scope. A scope where other things such as beauty, grace, and popularity come first. Some people can ignore this but, I was not one of those people. I was an easily emotional person and I felt all of this deeply but, I wasn’t able to express it. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know if I was allowed to.

This idea of conforming basically continues all of your life as you are trying to figure out which box you’re going to fit into and stay inside of. I have been in alot of different boxes over the years. As a human, you evolve, you change, and you move forward but it usually maintains a certain scope. For me, it was a scope where I conformed, didn’t cause a scene, and continued on my merry way. I had very good friends and enjoyed various activities over the years. I didn’t even realize how deep my conforming was until this past year. It’s amazing what losing your job, finding a new relationship, and taking time for some self care will do for you. Trying to fit into these boxes has caused me great anxiety and has forced me to hide parts of myself away from the world.

I’m trying not to do that anymore. I’m speaking out for myself and for those around me. I’m enjoying the things that I want to enjoy regardless of what the outside world is telling me. I’m happy in my relationship and I’m glad we’re pushing each other to grow and be better people. I’m finding new interests. I still love to read and refuse to let anyone put me down for it. Do I still have the pull to conform? Oh yes but, I’m doing my best to not succumb to it. I’m proud of myself for what I have achieved and what I will continue to push myself to do. I will continue to work on being untamed. And if I could tell my 5th grade self one thing, it would be that it doesn’t matter if you fit in now – it’ll all change in a year or so anyway. So don’t sweat the small stuff – just be yourself – listen to yourself – NOT what other people say.

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Chasing the Four Winds

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