Monday, July 25, 2011

{get get get get get over it}

benjamin gibbard is singing to me over craisins and blueberries, and i'm feeling lay-down-in-an-overgrown-field-making-daisy-chains contemplative.

i'm contemplating getting over it.

i don't know how to go about saying this without sounding all mushy and weird. so just, like, picture me saying all of it with a big stupid grin on my face and laughing a lot in between phrases. picture me listening to uppy music while i write and snacking on craisins.
because i totally am. {i'm always, always snacking on craisins.}

ok. so i realized, probably in grade 2, that i was ugly. one of my foster sisters pointed it out before i left for school and i'd honestly never even considered it before then. i was standing beside her in the bathroom and she was curling her bangs the way that we all did in the nineties and i was brushing my teeth and she started laughing and i started laughing too even though i wasn't sure what we were laughing about. turns out, we were laughing at my dumbo ears, pointing gracelessly out from underneath my neon pink hat that i loved so much.

i kept laughing with her until she'd finished spraying and fluffing her bangs and left the bathroom, and then i ripped the hat off my head and pulled my white-blonde hair down around my face so that those flappy pancake ears were out of sight {where they stayed for 14 years before barclay coaxed them out of hiding, assuring me that he liked them}. i was pretty perplexed. i'd never considered the idea that anything could be wrong with the way i looked. i spent a lot of time that night examining myself, and discovered other things about my face and body that i suspected were defects. these were confirmed soon afterwards, as the other kids at school began to notice them, too. i don't know if you know this, but kids are very vocal when they notice things.

this was really unfortunate, as i was well aware how much "pretty" counted for in society. i had barbies. i watched tv. i occasionally flipped through mom's magazines. "pretty" was everyone's favourite attribute, with "funny" and "athletic" following closely behind. but i was not pretty.

so i tried to be funny. i told jokes and made faces and laughed a lot; but i was just loud, obnoxious, and annoying. the guys told me to shut up and the girls gave me that look that girls often give other girls that says something like but not necessarily, "you are putrid scum." i was not funny.

so i tried to be athletic. my baseball coach had to have a "talk" of some sort with my mom--something to do with how unathletic i was. i rode the volleyball and basketball benches through junior high and gave up completely by grade 10 after my volleyball coach told the team right in front of me that if i played, we'd "lose for sure." i always got picked last--i hated gym class. i was not athletic.

so i read a lot. i listened to music a lot. i doodled a lot and pretended a lot. as i grew older, i dreaded going to school a lot. i dreaded the guy behind me in class kicking my chair and saying, "hey ugly, move your big head so i can see the board. hey ugly. ugly. ugly." i dreaded overhearing the older girls in the library discussing my teeth and my hair and my body while i stood a few feet away as though i were invisible and deaf, as well as astoundingly imperfect. i dreaded the boys avoiding me like the plague while all my pretty friends dated and flirted, and i dreaded their constant whispers and the passed notes encouraging me to kill myself.

i'm not trying to whine. i know this is pretty common in high schools and junior highs. kids are rude, to put it nicely. it's why i spend a lot of my time hanging out with 13 year-old girls. i don't want to be that careless adult who just thinks bullying in schools is a harmless phase. i want kids to feel loved, and i want them to know how to love other kids well.

because i'm noticing a lot lately how that stuff--the words and the looks and the notes--can live inside of your head for a long time. they can glob together into an angry giant, feed off your memories, knock your good sense out and take over the steering wheel.

so anyway. the thing is that i was talking this over with a friend the other day, and confessing to her that i still think about these things too much and that i still see myself as that annoying, clumsy, horribly ugly girl from frontier, and she said something great.

she said, "i think, at some point you just need to get over it."

and at that moment i was all snarky and thought, "yeahokwhatever." because i'm not really sure how you just get over something that has been driving your brain around like a demented chauffeur for 17 years.
but i wandered around inside of that thought for a while and realized that that's really the only thing i can do.

i've forgiven, i've realized that most of these things came from kids who didn't know better and were probably even more insecure than i was, but i just wasn't sure what i was supposed to do about the leftover sinking feeling that maybe they were right. you know, the part where you look in the mirror and go, "yep." and you can't see anything except the ears, the teeth, the hair, the whatever else they told you was wrong with you.

the answer: just get over it.

look in the mirror and see what's actually there--not what you've been told is there for years and years. and realize that no matter what's there, it's ok because that's not the most important thing anyway. 

and THEN.

and THEN i realized that the same basic principle applies to every kind of pity party.

i'm so guilty of pity partying.

i kind of think we're a society that loves pity parties. we love wallowing. we focus on how we've been wronged and we let past hurts of all sizes and strengths grow like weeds in our brains. how useless and ugly.

fact is: you're fine. you'll be ok. i don't mean it didn't hurt, i don't mean it, whatever "it" was, didn't suck. but it's over now and you have two options: stay here, or move on.

let it drown you or get out of the water.


  1. You are so right.
    For what it's worth, I think you're beautiful... and funny... and damned smart.

  2. I really like your insights on this. It is such a prevalent problem to almost everyone. I know when I was in Jr. High, I had the same haircut as Dora the Explorer, crooked teeth, 4th generation hand-me-downs and one gorgeous best friend. If a guy said something nasty to her and I stood up for her, I definitely got an earful of "I'm not talking to you, you're ugly." Stuff like that sticks around. I also would like to find a way to help out younger generations of girls. They need all the help they can get.

  3. i wish all bloggers with mean hurtful high school pasts could have gone to the same school together with the knowledge that we needed to be kind to one another... it would have been awesome.

    you are spot on, girl. SPOT.ON.

    brilliant post and just what i needed to read this morning. of course, i know you wrote it just for me. ;)

  4. Something really great to keep in mind, while you "get over it" (which I concur is important, but will be hard!) is that even though you won't have justice here on earth--God will hold everyone accountable in heaven. You should forgive, of course. But those kids aren't off the hook--they knew better. And no one should be treated like that.

    Isn't it crazy how things follow us around for years?
    And it changes our whole life?

  5. gross, kids can be so mean to eachother. high school was definintly hell, and i'm so glad that it's over and most of us made it out alive! i work with teenagers, too, and i always tell them to just get through it and remember that it will all be over soon enough.

    but good advice... because no matter who you are, there is always going to be some one trying to knock you down.

    i actually laughed out loud when you were talking about gym class. i was the kid picked after the kid in the wheelchair. for kickball. yeah, not athletic!

    and p.s. - i totally think you're funny! ;-)

    xx, kara

  6. LOVED this post. I hope you don't mind if I quote you in something I'm writing for next week?

  7. lilac rabbit: thank you. :) you're so nice! and i think the same of you.

    hannah: they really do! i wish more adults would step in and be mentors to teen girls. it's so important...also, i love that you had a dora the explorer haircut. that's precious. :)

    danielle: i DID! hahaha... but seriously, i think the kind of people who are usually bullied in school are often the kind of people who grow up to be "bloggers". you know? i've been noticing that a lot lately. we're all introverted and contemplative and like words and weird music a lot.

    jillian: you're totally right. but i'm just glad that the justice part isn't my job, that i don't have to worry about it at all, and even when i see those kids now i can love them. and if you go back and read the response i gave danielle, about how bullied kids usually end up all wordy and music-y and nerdy and stuff...i'd say it changed my life--in a few ways at least--for the better! if i can get over the negative parts, at least!

    hahah kara you're awesome. i wish i had been in your gym class, and we could've just had our own game of kickball in which we sat against the wall and discussed deep things while occasionally handing the ball off to one another.

    emily: THANK YOU. you have no idea the influence you've had on me lately. you can use anything from my blog, any time. :)

  8. I know you'll get 100 comments saying this same thing, but I want to say it too. You are beautiful, you are smart and insightful and I love reading your blog. Good advice, young lady. I needed to hear it.

  9. I seriously think that you are so SO pretty! And I personally also think that you're hilarious. =] And all those dummy dumb dumbs can just shut up.

    I believe that people who make fun of others, those are the people with the self confidence issues. Why do you want to give other people self confidence issues too? I'm sure you don't like yours, so why spread it like a disease? You know? Anwyay...

    I was born without cartilage folds in the upper part of my ear, causing them to stick out like dumbo. I would cry and cry. Before school, after school, at school. All the time, because these jerks would NOT give it up about my "dumbo" ears. My favorite (but not because it was so mean) is, "Hey Jamie, did you forget to shut your car doors this morning?". Maybe I will do my own blog post about this and share some pictures.

    My grandma got so sick of me crying all the time that she took me to the doctor to have reconstructive ear surgery. I don't necessarily believe in plastic surgery, but when it's negatively affecting a little girl's life so much that she doesn't even want to go to school, I think it was pretty necessary. Now that I'm an adult, I'm thankful.

    With that said, I love seeing others with their ears peeking out of their hair. Everyone is different and unique, and nobody has perfect features, and we should all love each other because of that. I think it's a positive thing.

  10. Oh also, love your end quote on this post. Those are words to live by. <3

  11. I'm so glad you wrote this.

    Ugh. I had the same terrible trouble in junior high and high school. Girls (and boys) can be so mean. And though college was a lot easier for me, I realized how truly insecure I was because of everything that had been said to me in high school.

    The irony of it all, of course, is that you're ABSOLUTELY gorgeous, and the fact that anyone would say otherwise just leads me to believe that they are outrageously jealous. It's the only plausible explanation.

  12. I should have read this at least ten years ago. I needed to hear this big time!
    And I love how you realated it to today too! I definitely do have some pity parties sometimes and you are right. There is nothing to do except move on and learn from it.
    Great post Suzy!

  13. Isn't it a great feeling when you DO let things go? I wasn't exactly bullied, but people, and even family members, weren't always nice. High school was majorly yucky, but honestly, I really only remember the nice things now. I can't say I'm music-y, per se, but I'm definitely wordy, and nerdy, and dance-y, so obviously, something good came out of all of it!

    It's nice to know you're not alone, right? I think that's what I love about this blogosphere. :)

  14. Thank you for this, Suzy :)

    Very refreshing.


  15. aw! all the love. :) you guys all make me smile so huge. this was one of those posts that i left unpublished all day and thought about not publishing all day cuz i didn't want to sound like i was fishing for compliments or whining. but y'all make me glad i hit the publish button in the end. :)

    kayla: you're awesome. thanks for the kind words. i really appreciate you, and think you're crazy beautiful and smart and funny!

    jamie: i would love to read your blog post. we're kindred spirits because of our dumbo ear stories. :) i think you're so beautiful too. thanks for the wonderful comment.

    sarah: it's always interesting to me to hear who else has struggled with being bullied and insecure--you strike me as so beautiful and confident! crazy.

    amylou: i hear you. i wish i'd had this girl in my life 10 years ago to tell me this. the past 10 years would've been so different! but we're here now and we're not dead yet so there's still time to crawl outta the water and lay in the sand for a bit! that's what's great about the way it is. :D only happy parties from now on...

    chess: yes and correct. absolutely, good things come out of tough stuff. and i love love love that the blogosphere is a place where we can talk it out and bounce those thoughts off of each other. :D i'm glad your wordy nerdy dancey self is here!

    jessie: thanks for reading and commenting. :) i appreciate that.

  16. I am guilty of pity parties as well. Even blogging pity parties, the worst kind. Vowing today to get out of the water. <3

  17. Oh and for the record, I think you're smoking hot. AND FUNNY. Which, in my opinion, is way better.

  18. ashlee: we could all get out of the water together, and have a party on the beach! but not a pity party, though. :)
    and garsh, thanks. :) you're so nice to me.

  19. Oh geez. I wrote a poem about my terrible experiences being made fun of... Maybe I'll post it some day. It was simply awful. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one, but it's incredibly sad to know how cruel people are! Humans are so complicated, I say.

  20. first of all, you are BEAUTIFUL. inside and out. and i don't even know you. i just read your blog.

    secondly, thank you for this. it was amazing and really touched me. sometimes what we need to hear isn't "i'm sorry" or "it will all be okay" but rather "get over it" because in the end, that's precisely what we need to do!

  21. aw liz!
    you should absolutely post it; i would love to read it. humans ARE so complicated. you're a beautiful girl; i hope you are able to get rid of those memories or at least the weight they carry.

    anna: thanks so much for your comment. the concept is so simple sounding isn't it? i don't know why it struck me so profoundly when my sister-in-law said it to me the other day. it made so much sense. and it's kind of life-changing!

  22. Gawd, I went through this in school. I remember in elementary school a boy saying that no one would ever want to date me. To this day those words sting. That, and being made fun of for my smile. I get paranoid showing my teeth sometimes. I try to let it go, but some days are harder than others.

  23. TOtally. i'm sure "getting over it" is more than a one-time decision. it all comes down to being super super disciplined about which thoughts you let yourself think about when they hit you and which thoughts you brush aside and replace with something else, i think. at least, that's what i've been up to this week. it seems to be a pretty good system. :)

  24. Ps: i think you have a gorgeous smile.

  25. can i marry your brain?
    this is amazing!

  26. This was beautiful.

    I have never been one to like pity parties. I actually think I suck and giving pity... sometimes I don't give it at all and sometimes I can't seem to say the right thing to give it properly. Not that I don't empathize with people. It's just that I've always been one to look at things in my past... hurtful or not... and realize that it needs to shape me into a better person, not weaken me by making me a victim... hope that makes sense.

    I always enjoy your writing, and this is full of good wisdom and it's just really good stuff to read. Thanks for adding great things to the blogosphere.

  27. claudyarine: haha! i would say yes but i think barclay get my brain when he married the rest of me! :D

    amyschmamey: i love that you think that way. i love people who don't let themselves be victimized, but grow instead. i want to be one of those people. :) workin on it.

    and thanks both of you for the kind words. you made me smile. :)

  28. This post broke my heart and made me smile all at the same time. I knew High School wasn't your ideal place, but I didn't know the extent. I concur with you on the un-athletic part. I, too, was always picked last for gym class and I can't tell you how many times I cried after a day in gym class. And there were times I was the only person in class NOT invited to a party. Feeling devalued and unattractive is tough, especially in those younger years, but to know that in fact, you ARE beautiful (which you truly are, Suzy) because God said so, is comforting. And it is truth. For everyone.

  29. thanks courtney. :) and that's really all that matters in the end anyways--God's opinion, not other peoples'.

  30. I wrote a post about my Dumbo story. :)

  31. i could read your blog all day every day.

    i was made fun of in school, too. i'm trying to nail down one specific thing, but i can't. it was everything.

    it was things i couldn't control, things i could, and everything in between. kids are cruel and it's so wrong.

    i love what you said about seeing what's there, not what you've been told is there. so beautifully true.

  32. heehee, i JUST saw your blog post larissa. read yours earlier, jamie. and commented both places. :) again, thanks for adding your voices to the conversation. you guys are fantastic.

  33. It's a good thing I choose to creepily stalk your archives while I'm sitting here supposed to be working. It really is a good thing. I needed to read this right now, because I've been in a listening-to-the-smiths-and-wallowing-in-despair type mood for the last couple weeks and although I don't think I will ever stop listening to the Smiths, I should probably just get over the pity party part of it. Probably should. Thanks for writing this.


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