(This is one of those things that is therapeutic enough just to write that I didn't think I'd publish. But here goes...)
Tall, quiet, awkward.
My elementary school years were not pleasant when other kids were involved. I had a few friends, sure, but I had a hard time with other kids.
I am quirky, I know that. I have always been taller than people my age (and taller than my 4th and 6th grade teachers.) I've always stood out. (The weird girl humming showtunes to herself.)
I was mocked, I was bullied. My very presence was cause for laughter. I hated being at school.
Being a full-figured, 5'7"+ 12-year-old (who looked 25), now with full-blown Social Anxiety Disorder, I became very introverted. My loud I-Don't-Care persona stood as a wall to keep people from provoking the very shy, sensitive me.
In 8th grade things began to change for the better. My ward friends brought me into their group of friends. I started to have guys as friends again for the first time in 5 years. (I started hanging out with Troy, Robby, Ryan, Jeremy, etc.) I was no longer automatically defensive, I had no need. These people liked *me*; quirks and faulty brain-to-mouth filter.
There was a moment where I thought "I can't wear something like that! Its...trendy! I'll get laughed at." I caught myself and realized Why not? Why can't I be honest about what I like? About who I am? Why do I feel I have to fit myself into the mold my peers have put me in?
A lightbulb moment. An Oprah "Aha! moment."
I realized I can be nice to people and they won't laugh in my face (probably.)
I realized I can have my opinions and they aren't automatically wrong.
I realized I don't have to be down on myself; I can have amazing self-esteem and no one is going to smash it anymore.
No one is going to laugh at me for attending a party where I was invited by obligation of a parent.
(The Aha! came with little relief of the but-it-*might*-happen that triggers the delightful physical symptoms of being a social phobic. I wouldn't go anywhere alone until I was almost 19.)
I know I probably still come off as arrogant, but I am just very protective of the shy, sensitive me.
One of my favorite memories is from 9th grade. I was late to the Halloween dance at school because I went through four costume changes, trying to find something I thought I wouldn't get laughed at for.
Resting on Sporty Spice attire, I slunk into the halls of my junior high, petrified I wouldn't someone who would befriend me.
I walked into the cafeteria and suddenly heard a chorus of "YOU'RE HERE!" "SUSAAAAAAANNNAAAAAAH!" "SUE IS HERE!" and "What took you so long?!"
Seven friends rushed to my side. Seven people from different groups of friends.
Happiness, acceptance, RELIEF washed over me.
I have to remind myself, because feelings to the contrary pop up, but...
I can be me. I can be silly, tall, obnoxious, and usually laughing for no reason...
I can like me. And I can realize others like that me.