When I was in preschool, they had an optional dance class that you could go to and you would get to wake up early from nap time. I obviously took them up on that offer because hello less nap time, more play time? Yes, please! At first the class was fun, I have memories of twirling around to the music and just being so happy to not be pretending to be asleep on my mat. The teacher had us do this exercise where we made facial expressions based off of the word she said- I remember when she said the word "queen" I must have made a strange expression because the rest of the girls started laughing at me. As I'm typing this, I can't believe how vividly I really remember it. I intended to write about the first time I felt judged in the second grade and then this memory came back to me! Dance class was never the same after that. I started to notice the ways I was different from them. At such a young age I learned the art of comparison. They were all really tiny. I was not tiny. They were flexible. I was not flexible. I stopped dancing and went back to pretending to be asleep on my mat.
The older I grew, the more intense this fear of judgment became. It hit way new levels when I moved in the summer before fourth grade. The value of popularity became everything to me. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to belong. I did everything I could. I begged my mom to take me to Limited Too for clothes- side note: my first Limited Too shirt was a tee with my zodiac sign (Pisces) and signed up to play basketball. Being the new girl was hard, trying to fit in with the popular crowd seemed like the answers to all of my problems. The harder I tried to fit in- the clearer it was that I did not. I seriously tried for YEARS to be accepted into this crowd. I tried to change every single thing I could. Again, the harder I tried, the worse things got.
I was lucky enough *sarcasm* to be in the ever vulnerable pre-adolescent stage of life when AIM and AOL became popular. I had to try to fit in at school and online. I'd be so excited to get an e-mail from one of the "popular" girls only to be destroyed when I would read words like, "you are fat and nobody likes you." "your lisp makes you sound stupid so shut up": "you are selfish and annoying." "everyone would be happier if you died." "go kill yourself." It didn't stop for years. When this happens, you try to change even more to get these hurtful words to stop.
I would change my hair, my taste in music, the slang I used, the books I read, my interests, my clothing, etc. I was so afraid to be myself because she seemed even weirder than the girl trying too hard. I thought back then that I wanted to be popular, but I really just wanted to be loved.
Eventually, I surrendered to the fact that I did not belong in the popular crowd. I found a group of friends that accepted me and supported me through some dark times. The fear of judgment can come up in so many different forms. Fear of being judged for our looks, bodies, interests, hobbies, etc. This fear of being judged based off my popularity was holding me back from genuine friendships.
Today, as I continue to embrace my truth and express it, I am finding myself surrounded with beautiful, like-minded people. I am grateful for releasing this fear and being blessed with an abundance of amazing souls as friends. If I hadn't gotten out of my way and past this fear of judgement, I might not have all of these wonderful people in my life. I have friends who are entrepreneurs, adventurers, creators, etc. They inspire me DAILY to be my best self. I have friends that go on road trips, travel to other countries, meditate, play guitar, etc. Their talents are limitless. I needed to release the fear of being judged based on my popularity in order to create space for these friendships to bloom and blossom.