I ran into a friend from my hometown after I had moved away. We ended up living in the same town many years after we graduated. Someone I’ve known since grade school but didn’t keep in touch with once we graduated. One night when we were out around our new town she told me a story about another girl we went to high school with. She told me this other girl said that I was the reason she hated high school. I made her feel like crap in some way. I don’t even remember exactly what she said. It was tough for me to process the words because my memory of this other girl was that I was always impressed with her intelligence. I think she skipped a grade and graduated early or something. I was envious and looked up to her academic strength.
I was totally shocked by hearing that I may have caused someone to have a horrible time in high school. It’s been years since I was told this and I think about it often. I always try to live my life in the most honest way I can. I feel like I strive to never make someone feel like crap. I may have what is seen as a strong personality but always a supportive one. I am in no way defending myself. I am just really blown away that I could have made someone feel that bad.
I don’t remember much about those years. My memories are almost non-existent. What I do remember about when I was a teenager was this. I was an asshole. Like no joke. I was snarky all the time. I was self-absorbed. I was insecure about my looks. I was searching for my own identity. Looking for ways to escape my life in a small town.
I was feeling crappy about my parent’s divorce. I was sad that my brother was sick and died during my senior year. I was mad that my mother was dating men that were uncomfortable to be around. I recall my high school years as ones I want to forget. And I have mostly… forgotten…
Did any of this excuse my behavior? Nope. Did any of this affect my behavior? Definitely. How is it possible to avoid these situations in the future? I truly believe that we need to take responsibility for our state of mind. We need to use emotional regulation techniques to be sure we know exactly what we feel and how it affects our body, mind, and soul. If we start with self we won’t project what we are feeling on others in a negative way. I also think we should thoughtfully consider what others might be going through or feeling. Being more observant and open is the center of being a better human.
Looking back I realized that I didn’t use these skills when I was younger. I didn’t have the ability to look outside of myself. We can say that it is because I was a teenager, going through tough times, but in reality, we can learn these skills at any point in our life. Being a good teacher to our children is a great place to plant those seeds but also just being supportive to friends or others that you meet that might be struggling is another.
I have taken responsibility for my behavior in the way that I feel I work on myself all the time. I spend time thinking before I speak. I don’t always get it right (and still frequently screw it up) but I am always trying. I try and learn from my mistakes. I think about what I have done in my life to shift any negativity into a lighter way of being. I seek out people that understand me. I like to surround myself with positive, strong, creative thinkers that have moderate levels of emotional availability and maturity. I don’t apologize if the strength of my personality puts others off but I do try and use my strength in positive ways.
xo Melissa Dee