Letting Myself Shine
Growing up, I was a talented and intelligent little kid.
My first memories of being “different” than everyone else date back to kindergarten, when I was pulled out of class one day and went to a room with a lady who asked me lots and lots of questions.
There were reading prompts and association questions and even division, which I worked out in my head.
At the time, I had no idea that 6 year olds weren’t supposed to know long division.
The next year I got pulled out of class frequently to go to another room because I was “gifted”.
I thought I was going to get presents. I didn’t.
In 4th grade I joined the 5th grade class for math, and in 5th grade, they sent me to the middle school to take pre-algebra.
In elementary, my mom took me to private art lessons, and my grandma got me a pie plate with all the digits of pi around the circumference. My parents called me "Mathalie".
I had my own “non-profit” in 5th grade. I hosted a house party where I sold handmade jewelry to raise money for the local food bank.
I spent my free time teaching myself how to crack combination locks, learning the longest words in the dictionary, and knitting and crocheting and crafting.
I had no idea that this stuff was out of the ordinary.
My home family life consisted of fun, creative things.
We saw modern art museums and went on hikes and listened to NPR.
At some point, probably in middle school, I started to realize this difference.
I would come back from summer break, after spending weeks at a music and arts camp learning how to play the didgeridoo and throw pottery on a wheel, and all of my friends would talk about how they hung out at the pool all summer.
I started to feel kinda left out. People never knew what I was talking about when I talked about my camp, or my favorite restaurants, or the other “cultured” stuff that my family did.
I also gained the reputation as the smart girl, because school came incredibly easy to me.
I got material in each class, learned it, took the test, got 100% (or close), and went on with my day.
Sometimes a friend would ask me what I got on a test and I would excitedly tell them my score, and they would either scoff or roll their eyes and say something along the lines of “figures”.
Eventually people stopped asking me what I got.
I started to feel like I was taking up too much space. Like I should be embarrassed about my grades and my hobbies.
I stopped talking about that stuff to most people because they seemed to shut down around it.
I felt like I had to shrink in order to be normal.
Eventually, I stopped being able to celebrate my accomplishments out of fear of making other people feel bad.
I am such a sensitive person that I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
So I kept a lot of it to myself. I did things that I didn’t like to do in order to fit in and appear normal. I lost part of my creative, innovative self.
One of my biggest insecurities is having people think that I am conceited. As if being proud of myself for an accomplishment makes me self centered and obnoxious.
This is a massive issue though, because the more I dim my own light and hide my pride, the worse I feel about myself.
I have learned that it takes way too much effort to try to make everyone around me feel comfortable.
The reality is that some people just won’t vibe with me, and thats okay.
It is not my job to delicately engineer how I show up in this world.
It is my job to be me. The whole, authentic, me.
I want to show the world my messy, funny, silly, happy, lonely, proud, smart, stupid, authentic life.
Sometimes it's a lot easier to talk about the struggles than it is to talk about the wins.
I deserve to remind myself I am not only enough, but that I am powerful, young, passionate, driven, intelligent, and wise.
There is no point in dimming my own light so that others feel more comfortable around me.
I deserve every inch and every mile of space that I take up on this planet and in people's hearts. I deserve to let my bright light shine across the room. I deserve to exude confidence, energy, and personality.
I deserve to let myself be.
I have always been different. I have always been smart and creative. When I was a kid, I didn’t think twice about it. I want to return to that child-like mind and just be who I am. I am allowed to let myself shine.