“To Love One’s Self Is the Beginning of a Lifelong Romance”
I like me, I do. I’m learning to like me more and more. There are some things about myself that I still do not like, of course, but I am learning that I am a rather likeable person. I’m friendly, smiley, courteous, kind, helpful…goodness, I sound like the Boy Scout Law. I understand fully that it is difficult sometimes to merely like yourself, much less love you.
I sort of felt, for most of my life, that something was wrong, i.e., I wasn’t perfect. I did indeed make mistakes, lots of them, and if people found out I wasn’t perfect, life would be over, ruined, and I’d be outcast. Yes, it seems a little silly. It’s OK, you can laugh. My imagination has always been in overdrive. In college, I was able to start defining myself in my own skin, away from those who constantly told me that I was a miracle baby and that all my parents’ expectations rode on me and I was a wonderful example, blah blah blah. Not that I didn’t appreciate their encouragement and their faith in me. But after seventeen years, I still didn’t even know who I was without them.
I enjoyed (and hated) clawing my skin off down to the tender layer and starting over. That doesn’t mean that I became a totally different person. My values, personality, morals, and faith are very much intact, but I wanted a deeper understanding. I wanted to know why I believe what I believe and why I act the way I do. I began to pay closer attention to my parents when I came home on breaks: how they acted, how they reacted, how they worked and spoke, etc. They are completely different people, absolute opposites. Introvert, extrovert; practical, emotional; list-maker, risk-taker. I found that I do indeed possess two different sides on one coin – the abstract and the linear, the spontaneous and the practical. On a Gregorc scale, I measure the act same on both sides of the y-axis – 28 in abstract and 28 in concrete. My colleagues were amazed by this and I just shrugged and explained, “Those are my parents. That’s my mom (concrete) and that’s my dad (abstract).”
As I have gone through (and am still going through) this process of getting to know and like myself, I have found things that I do not like as well. Such as my silence. I have never blown up at anyone when I am angry; I cannot even force myself to do it. In my nuclear family, you didn’t do that. You kept your feelings to yourself. The rest of the extended family yelled and screamed and threatened, but we didn’t. There are times when I want to yell and scream at people when I get angry but it’s like my voice freezes inside me and I settle into a heavy silence with even heavier thoughts and, usually, more than few tears. I may eventually talk later but only after I have suffered through that silence. I am working on being more open with my emotions and my feelings, more honest as to what is running through my head and my heart.
There are things about me that I truly like as well. I love my adoration for the subject I teach. I am English major/Literature masters/obsessed reader first and a teacher second. For me, the pedagogy flows with my love for the literature, not from striving for the test scores. One of my favorite teaching experiences this year was standing before my advanced 8th grade students and reciting the tumultuous storm that was Henry VIII, his wives, and his children’s reigns, by heart and with great gusto, in order to set up the backdrop for Elizabeth I’s reign during Shakespeare’s time. One of my students piped up as she was leaving, “I wish our Social Studies teachers loved history and were that passionate about it.” I thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as shocking them with the amount of lines from Romeo and Julietthat I still have memorized. Jo March said, “The play is the thing!” For me, the story is the thing. It is a thing of greatness and beauty and power! I am a compulsive book worm and I love how excited I get over a new book, how everything around me melts away and the only sense and mental functions I possess are to see, read, and comprehend. I cannot hear, I cannot speak, I cannot move. The story has enthralled me and I am content to be its captive.
So, yes, as I get to know me, there are things I need to work on, to mature in. But there are also things that I find I adore more and more every day. I was perhaps a prodigy mentally, academically, and artistically but a late-bloomer emotionally and internally. And, you know what? It’s all right. I’m quite obviously not done yet.