We see so much of each other while barely seeing anything at all. Our souls retreat further within ourselves as our defensive walls rise up to protect burgeoning insecurities. It seems it's only when we imperceptibly detect the likeness of such defeat that we begin to really accept one another. Even then it is a cycle that is rarely discussed.
My first exposure to bullying and human cruelty began after the bliss of childhood ended and I was tossed head on into puberty. It began with childish comparisons of wristwatches and scooters then quickly escalated to condemning physical traits of which we have literally no control over. I was placed in the IBTC in about 7th grade. At first I was honored because it sounded cool and my friends had also somehow landed a spot. The pride diminished one day when a boy smirked and said it was the "Itty Bitty Titty Committee". Clever name, by the way.
As our fragile self-esteems were rapidly setting up skyscrapers of defense that we wouldn't dare speak of, my friends and I laughed it off convincingly enough; I had no idea the lasting effects of such pointless shaming until I was putting on my leotard for dance class.
I felt compelled to stuff my bra, thinking simply that this would do the trick! I followed through with stuffing for a couple of months before I was aware that the other girls had noticed. My young mind couldn't fathom how this could be happening again, "There are no boys here and I'm not at school!” I thought. I actually lost friends along with my dignity. Not one person provided sympathy or friendship, even my mother laughed at me. But here’s the beautiful thing: I pulled myself together and kept going; which is the one thing I can be thankful to have learned from this experience.
Needless to say, I ceased stuffing my bras instantly and was relieved when I actually began to outgrow bra sizes of my friends in high school. It was through the mortification and bullying of both genders regarding my pre-developed breasts that showed me just how cruel we are to one another for pure enjoyment.
I believe this is precisely why I chose to work within a dance inspired studio as an adult. For as long as I can remember, I have thrived on helping people. The inspiration found through my career in the fitness industry provides such an outlet that it fulfills me at my very core (pun intended). I believe we all have a choice to be good and effect positive change within each others lives. As simple as it is, I have had my day turn around with a smile from a stranger. All it took was an impulsive muscle contraction and I was all set.
However, these memories do continue to haunt me as I approach parenthood for the fear of my child enduring similar torments. I am consistently appalled at stories encountered daily regarding the ways children continue to treat one another. Drawing upon my own experience, I often find myself pondering how I would handle this situation from a parent’s perspective. I find solace in the hopes that other parents are conscious of this issue and also advise their children to be kind.
It is my personal mission to eradicate unnecessary hatred by establishing open communication within my own family. Nothing is too important to withhold or keep from your loved ones. I am fortunate to have found support through a phenomenal man who accepts me for who I am, flaws and all. He helps to balance my insecurities with an assured confidence that we will navigate these murky waters together whenever it comes time for the approach. We have been together for nearly a decade, married 2 years, and are expecting our first child this January.
I believe that in order to make strides towards a better community, we must practice being vulnerable and tolerant in order to catch glimmers of each others true selves. It would be a beautiful thing to not only practice on a personal level but also to share this mentality through daily acts of kindness.
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Sending love, luck & calm vibes.