I have spent years of my life trying to break, destroy, and suppress myself. I’ve spent so much time attempting to “prove them wrong”–everyone who’s ever hurt and bullied and belittled me. It has been so much about them and so little about me. Over these past few years, I have devoted incredible time and energy into “remodeling” myself. There has always been a gnawing fear at the back of my mind that my old tormentors will reappear in my life–whether long-term or only for a moment. and if they were to show up again, I wanted to appear perfect and irresistible. I wanted to show how much of a contrast I am now to the chubby little bubble I once was. So I always asked myself the question: what would they think of me if they came back this very moment? And, if I decided they would still laugh, I would try even harder. It was like furiously cleaning and remodeling a house for a guests that will most likely not even show up.
This, I believe, was one of the other roots of my perfectionism. I wanted to appear pleasing. Even over the summer, the acme of my life, the pinnacle of my recent existence, I was only striving to run as far as I could from the ten-year-old version of myself that i have always regarded as detestable. At the same time, though, I have been dragging that ten-year-old girl all across existence, scolding her. I have not released her. Deep in the pits of my mind, I’ve always thought it my fault for being tormented. If only I’d kept my mouth shut. If only I’d blended in a little more and not laughed at all the wrong times. If only, if only , if only. I have never forgiven myself for my fifth grade year.
Out of this unforgiveness, again, came my efforts to suppress myself. I shifted about like water, unsure of who I really was or who I could be. The diamond of my true self was tossed away and buried as I searched for a better one among piles of pebbles and dirt. I could never let that diamond be seen again for fear that it would be taunted and mocked again. But no matter how far I tried to stray from the buried diamond, it always turned up right beside me again. It did not want to be left and forgotten. So I kept it with me–but tucked away in my pocket. I never showed the world my diamond, but I displayed the dirty pebbles I was trying to pass off as genuine. Then, when others found me dull, I assumed it was because they had gotten a view of the diamond in my pocket. So I hid it even deeper. I could never see the faces of my old tormentors look upon that diamond. Ever.
But in the past few days, I realize that the best revenge is not desperately attempting to perfect and change myself. The best vengeance is not striving to the flawless model of a girl that I’ve always tried to be. The way to get back is to be exactly who I’m meant to be–that fifth grader. To show that diamond. The more I am around people I trust, the more I realize how little that diamond has changed. It retains its old beauty even after years of being kept in the dark. It remains mostly unchanged. And the parts of it that have fallen away–the parts that I’ve grown out of–leave the diamond looking even more beautiful than before.
What better way to say “f-ck you” to the old tormentors than to remain unchanged after their repeated attempts to break me down? i hope, if ever should they reappear in my life, that they see exactly who they saw four years ago–only a little older. I cannot continue to hold unforgiveness toward an old version of myself. I cannot go on scolding myself for my previous shortcomings. Of course a ten-year-old would fall short when held against the strict standards of her unforgiving fourteen-year-old critic. It is not fair to scrutinize myself in such a manner. Nobody expects a ten-year-old to speak, behave, and conduct oneself like a fourteen-year-old, just as one would not expect a fourteen-year-old to conduct oneself and take on the responsibilities of an eighteen-year-old. So why should I? Why should I drag myself around because of actions old and stale?
My ten-year-old self can be at peace knowing that her diamond can be free and truly appreciated by those who love it. She can rest now. I can release her. I no longer expect her to be fourteen at ten. She can be ten now. She can be free.