Friday, February 04, 2005

Lessons Learned

I remember the events like they happened yesterday. It is one of those terrible memories that will sit with me unti the day my hair is grey and I may not be able to tell you what I had for breakfast that morning - but I will recall this story.

I was ten years old - in the fifth grade. One day two of the most popular girls in my class showed up in matching tie-dyed jumpers. They were cotton, had shorts, and knots tied at the shoulders. They were the greatest things I'd ever seen. The following day, three more girls showed up wearing "the" jumper. I went home that day and begged my mother for one of the jumpers that all of the popular girls were wearing. I continued to beg incessantly for days, to no avail. Money was tight and we simply could not afford a new outfit on a whim. At school I felt like an outcast. One by one, seemingly every girl in the fifth grade showed up wearing a tie-dyed, knotted shoulder, short jumper; and every dayI was crushed.

My humiliation grew exponentially until one day, a couple of weeks later, when my mother gave in and took me out to buy my very own tie-dyed jumper. I was beyond ecstatic...I was elated. Finally, I would become a member of the elite. I yanked a jumper off of the rack and hustled my mother out of the store as quickly as I could - certain she would change her mind.

As soon as I got home I ran back to my room to try on my new prized possession. I put it on and flung my closet door open, exposing my full-length mirror. My jaw dropped. I couldn't speak. My mind did not want to believe the facts that my eyes were sending its way. I looked terrible! I looked HORRID! The jumper fell all wrong on my young figure. My legs looked even shorter than usual - and fat! The fabric hung loosely around my middle, giving the illusion of an odd pre-pubescent pregnancy. The jumper was all wrong. Stubborness prevailed the next morning, however, when I insisted on wearing the atrocity to school anyway. The matter, after all, was not to look good but to prove to my peers that I was in fact one of them.

I should have left the outfit at home. I should have trusted the fates. Because when I showed up at school ready to show the world that I was a popular girl too, the trend had faded completely. I was so caught up in becoming part of the group that I'd neglected to see that the group had transformed. The girls in my grade had become obsessed with the next big fashion craze. No one cared that I had finally become one of them because "them" meant something totally different that day. I had missed the boat.

This was one of the few times in my adolescent life that I had made an attempt to be a part of the in-crowd. I was generally a very level-headed and rational little gal. But for some reason, at this time, in this way I had wanted to be a part. I decided that my possessions or the way that I looked was going to make people like me. I'd forgotten the words that my grandfather told me every single time I visited him - "You just always be as sweet as you are and everyone will always love you."

This awkward chidhood moment has remained fresh in my memory for over 10 years now, and I'm glad. It reminds me that every time I want to do something to be a part of the "in" crowd - it's just not worth the effort. I've received far more positive attention and gained many more friends simply by being myself.

The lesson for today is:
Be friendly, smile at strangers, and allow your own distinct and dazzling fashion statements be what others see about you. Those that appreciate you as you truly are will be those worthy of spending your time with. Those that would judge you based upon your brand-name clothes or your propensity to keep up with the latest fads will soon pass out of your thoughts as quickly as the latest trends will pass through theirs.

To loving yourself and loving others who do the same,


At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, I remember those damn jumpers! Who didn't want one?? I guess I was fortunate that I never ended up talking my mom into one. And what are you talking about---all the popular girls??? In my mind, you were one of the popular kids. I always felt like I was the one who was lucky to get invited to your house to play--really! (yea, how many 4th graders have their mom bring their horse for show and tell :P ) Regardless of our less discriminating years spent in middle school, I am so fortunate that none of that stuff ever really mattered to either one of us--we truly were the lucky ones!
Love you--
Roby ;)

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Darbi said...

Yeah - I suppose the 5th grade was one of my stupider years...that was also the year that "R with an I" and I were so mean to you! What a silly bunch we were - all over that silly K boy...blonds were never my type but he sure got the best of you two! Ahhhh...memories!


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