TWO SHORT STORIES – IDENTITY

Two short stories…

1. In Primary 2 a teacher said to me that she was going to rub me out and draw me all over again because I hadn’t completed some work ‘properly’…the message clear to my impressionable young mind…I was a mistake, needing fixing, didn’t measure up to her idea of what a 6-year-old should be. Every time I’ve thought about that comment ever since I feel the heat rise in my cheeks, the red tinge of embarrassment, the sense of shame and ridicule that I felt in front of my classmates.

2. Recently, during a hike in the Mournes with my wild women group one of the girls said to me that I was like a little ‘mountain fairy’! I floated on air for the rest of that walk…she had made my day without realising it because the comment had acknowledged how happy and free I feel when I’m in the hills and also I’m a massive fan of folklore, myth and fairytales so it ticked a whole load of happy boxes!

Two throwaway comments that will both stay with me. Two comments to build the story of how I see myself and my place in this world. As I pondered these 2 examples of words aimed at me I thought about the way we allow how we see ourselves to be influenced by others. Another conversation we had among the hiking group that day was about the shame associated with not meeting other’s expectations or standards, or feeling like we’ve let the people in our lives down because we don’t fit snuggly into a specific mould. I’ve dug a little deeper and wondered about words I’ve allowed to define me, the good, the bad, the ugly and how the only thing that really should matter is how we see ourselves. Nasty words can sting, but they don’t define who we are. Kind and generous compliments are lovely to hear, and I do believe we should build one another up for sure.

But, who do I say I am? What do I know in my heart of hearts about who I am, what I’m good at, what my purpose is? Do I give myself permission to evolve and be who I want in different chapters of my life? I don’t need to fit any mould, now or ever. I don’t need erased and redrawn that’s for sure! I get to be who I choose to be and I quite like being a messy wee doodle of a mountain fairy right now!

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