How I Found Myself
Things never work out exactly how you expect them to. There is always a moment when something clicks and you realize that maybe you were wrong… or maybe you were right. Maybe things change for the better or the worse, but maybe, things just flip.
Lets start by going back ten months. September 2015. A month into my junior year of high school and nothing in my life could have possibly been better. I had spent the first two years of high school working on the only thing that mattered to me – my social standing. It sounds petty (and don’t get me wrong, it was), but after being a literal plankton in an ecosystem ran by whales for the three years leading up to high school, it seemed justified to want more from the people around me. So the first day of freshman year, I decided to start new; ditch the band nerds and swim with the big fish, working my way up the food chain until I ended up here.I was in the very center of all that was happening, going to parties every weekend, handing out advice on things that were never my business, and gaining followers on Instagram and Twitter faster than Caitlyn Jenner. My friends shared the same passion for social power as I did making our clique obnoxiously exclusive, yet I loved that everyone wanted to be me. Looking back, I should have been happy, but how could I have been happy when my love life was like a dull hook with no bait. Yes even I, the self-appointed princess, had yet to find a prince and it was KILLING ME. It seemed everyone around me was in the “perfect high school relationship” and I was popular and pretty so why wasn’t I?
**Spoiler alert** Because it doesn’t exist!!! Sad but true. Corey and Topanga, Troy and Gabriella, Lizzie and Gordo are all just fictional characters based on the dreams of adolescence – Learn that now and it will make your lives 40x easier.
But, that’s aside from the point. I had made it my personal mission to get a date for the homecoming dance, but with it being two weeks away – one of which I would be in Texas visiting my sick grandfather – I realized my dream of finding my perfect fish in the sea was quickly swimming away. So instead of aiming for one special guy, I made it my mission to dance with as many boys as possible at the dance with the only purpose being to make potential boyfriends jealous.
Wow, had that plan worked – sorta…
When the night of the dance rolled around it was quickly obvious that the Hottie McHot Face of our group had his eyes set on me. I was the oh-so -lucky girl that had the “privilege” of dancing all night long with Shawn McDreamy*.
I did end up making people jealous, just not the people I intended. I got home that night and found out by word of snapchats and dm’s that both Emily* and Lindsay* left the dance crying because they liked Shawn and saw him dancing with me. I blew it off as no big deal, they’ll get over it because he obviously wasn’t into them. That theory was quickly disproven by a text message received two days after the dance.
Emily had texted me complaining about how it wasn’t fair that I liked Shawn because she liked him first. We agreed to both leave each other out of any gossip about our love lives.
For the next three months I was in and out of town making such frequent flights to Texas that the barista from the coffee shop in our airport knew me by name. And those three months were a living hell. The trips to Texas were never fun because it consisted 80% watching my grandfather deteriorate and 20% watching through my phone everything I was missing back home. I was in the perfect position to lose the predator position I had worked so hard to gain, right along with the only guy even mildly interested in me. It was agonizing to watch the weekend party snapchat stories without me in them and listen to the voice messages of everyone jamming to the latest hits without me singing along.
I spent Christmas at my grandfathers funeral and watched from 621.2 miles away as my friends exchanged gifts and I didn’t get one.
When I finally returned to Omaha for good, I was willing to do absolutely anything to ensure I was not going to devolve back into a shrimp. What better way to fit in than to do what everyone else is doing.
Sinsta aka: secret Instagram
Yes, I am ashamed to say it but I created a new Instagram account. I thought of a disgustingly inappropriate pun for my name and flipped the switch from public account to private – as if it protected my privacy at all.
My first eight posts were of me complaining. The ninth a pic was me in a cow costume and then the 10th and 11th got back to complaining. It was fun. My friends laughed at my ugly selfies and I was once again floating the current of popularity… or so I thought.
It was early in the morning when I was eavesdropping into the conversation of two boys in my class. We were all waiting for class to start when Tyler* exclaimed “no one posts anything juicy to sinsta anymore”
Marco* replied, “yeah and when they do, they take it down anyway so it doesn’t even count”
I jumped in with “so you guys are saying if I post a booty pic to sinsta I have to leave it up?”
“Oh yeah it’s all about the follow through” was the unanimous response.
Okay I knew the rules.
1. Post juicy things to keep people interested.
2. Leave them up because it’s all about the follow through.
January 9th. I stood before my full body mirror in nothing but skimpy underwear and snapped a booty pic. “When someone says you don’t have an ass so you just kinda…..” was typed below the picture as the caption and I tapped “share.” Almost immediately after the picture was posted, I got a text from *Sam. It stated how he definitely disagreed with whoever said that my butt wasn’t good enough – and he would know, he danced with it at homecoming.
Okay, he was interested, goal accomplished. This “accomplishment” was proven by our late night snapchats of various body parts and an overall plan to hook up in the back of his car that weekend. I got what I wanted right. Lots of attention and a sure fire way to stick around in the group. Or so I thought. Truly I had no idea. I assumed Shawn and I would be a thing pretty soon and then I really would have nothing to worry about. I took the picture down about 6 hours later, after beginning to think about how shallow and immature of a thing it was to do. However, Connor* snapchatted me telling me it wasn’t fair because he didn’t get to see the photo. I didn’t want to make him mad. I posted another one because I wanted the attention and because I didn’t follow “the rules.” Rules that could only create a product harmful to me. I didn’t see it like that back then. I saw it as giving them what they want. I saw it as my job, as a woman to give men what they wanted. My body. In the next two weeks, eight boys asked me for nudes. I sent them to seven. I thought I was doing what was expected of me. It kept them satisfied.
What’s scary looking back, is it never crossed my mind to say no. Shawn and I never did end up getting together. He got mad that I told my best friend about our plan and created way too much drama over it. Drama that caused me to lose everything I spent the last three years building up, but also forced me to realize that it all meant nothing. None of it, not the rules, not the popularity, not the titles and for sure not the boys. Not the parties or the power and definitely NOT THE BOYS. Popularity isn’t an accomplishment, but rather a signal that you follow stupid rules. It took me nearly drowning myself trying to please others to realize that the only person I needed to please was myself. As everyone was leaving me and everything was crumbling beneath my feet I somehow felt relieved.
Here’s what they don’t tell you – There’s a secret ecosystem, that doesn’t rely on a food chain to keep it in balance. Just outside the coral reef where you can exist freely in open water in a big non-conformist, self-actualizing, sea of authenticity. Where you don’t have to go through the humiliation of following “the rules” or the fight of constantly proving yourself to those who deserve nothing from you. My only regret is not learning this sooner.
After the drama ended and I gained my freedom, I lived this summer happily. I am finally liberated from the strings that I tied around my own wrists. I created my own rules for myself. So if you read one part of this insanely long post read this:
•You are yours before you are anybody else’s
•Do what YOU love
•Smile more // Worry less
•Don’t get involved in business that isn’t yours
•Get rid of your “ego”system (haha see what I did there:)
•Believe in the positive power of the universe
I found myself after being forced too after four months of drama and defeat when I could have simply made the CHOICE to live happy in my own skin, being me. Truly, the secret to finding yourself is just that. Skip the drama, learn from me, live for you.
If you have any questions about my story PLEASE feel free to leave them in the comments below and I would be happy to answer:)
*All names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals