Tuesday, May 6, 2008


"And the day came when the risk it took
to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom."
-Anais Nin

When I nine years old my family moved to the next city over. New house, new school, new life. It was only fifteen minutes from where I'd spent my first several years, but it might as well have been a million miles away. My parents had bought their first house. It was in desperate need of fixing up. The bedrooms had orange shag carpeting. And the bathrooms were fitted out with starkly purple porcelain. It was a strange and foreign feeling place and I was miserable.

I was a shy, tender-hearted little girl, prone to take things too seriously. I think the best label is "sensitive." I came home from my new school every day and cried to my mum about how nobody liked me and I had no friends. This went on for weeks. I gave into despair in a way that only a pre-adolescent can.

At last I made friends with three other girls, and we became a tight, inseperable unit. As the new girl I was required to do many things to retain their friendship; share the treats in my lunch (and by share I mean hand over), be "it" for any games we played, fetch things for the other three. I was so grateful to have friends at last that I never made any argument.

A few months later my three friends showed up at my door, wanting to have a serious talk. They told me that my hard work and good grades were making them look bad. The teacher was always praising me, and they didn't like it. If I wanted to stay their friend, I'd have to stop trying so hard.

That and similar experiences are why the above quote struck me so forcefully the first time I read it. As much as I've grown and developed in the last few years, some elements of that shy, eager to please little girl remain a part of me. I've come to realize that in holding myself back I'm sacrificing the very things that make me worth knowing. Fear of success haunts me in equal proportion to my fear of failure.

I want to be the best me I can be. Yes, that statement rhymes abominably and is frightfully corny, but I genuinely aspire to improve myself. I want to stop apologizing when I'm happier than someone else. Stop missing opportunities because I'm afraid of looking like a keener. Because what's wrong with that anyway? What's wrong with being excited and passionate and driven? Why do we look at those few of us who are full of energy, whose eyes burn with an intensity that shames us, as if they were mental cases?

I've done it! I'm guilty! I've experienced discomfort around those who really embrace their lives and constantly strive to better themselves. I think in moments like that I'm emulating those girls I knew in elementary school. I'm perpetuating that idea that we should remain in the bud rather than bloom. Through my silent writhings of discomfort and envy, I'm holding others back as well as myself.

I don't want to anymore. I genuinely do want to bloom.

I'm still scared. I'm hovering on the horizon of something truly wonderful, scared to take the next step. How do I shake two decades worth of wrong headed thinking?


hayngrl101 said...

I just have to say... I loved this post. I am the same way and I hate myself for it.

I've just entered into a new phase where things are beginning to look up and very promising. Its awesome for my family... but socially, its not that great because that means that I am no longer "in" with a certain friend (SIL)... I love her and we've been great friends for a long time.

But I'm kinda sad about it because suddenly we can't be as tight? (What the heck!!)

Sometimes it just stinks- only because its scary to be alone in that place and leaving other people behind. I mean, there definitely is more comfort in having others who know what you're going through.

Hope I don't sound... wenchy.

Nichole said...

You've nailed the elusiveness of this experience - growing up, growing out, wanting more but wondering who you're leaving behind - right on the head.

I've been there in so many ways, it's frightening. And I've been on the other side. Both experiences, like two halves of a circle, like a yin and yang, are swirling around my head.

Thought-provoking, indeed!

the MomBabe said...

And then there's those of us that are too awesome for words....

Like me!

kidding.... sorta....

Beth said...

I know that shy feeling of wanting to hide who you really are (even if that person is quite possibly worth knowing) for fear that you'd make someone feel inadequate. I thought that was, like, a teenage thing but it still plagues me. Often, really. The good thing is that I think I'm getting better. (Baby steps!)

Truth is, I rather like myself -- and I like best myself when I'm hiding who I am in fear that somebody won't like me. (I realize that probably comes across as socially awkward at best and snobby at worst!)

And you know I like you tons, too. :-D Keep on bloomin'.