I grew up in a very, very, very small part of the world. Super small. I think the population was 271 a few years ago.
Photo courtesy of Leadhill.org.
It’s the kind of place that you know everyone or know who everyone is.
My family wasn’t one of the most affluent ones. We did well to get by each month. If it weren’t for my grandmother, I don’t know what we would have done.
I went to school with other kids that didn’t seem to have the same issues in life that I did. It was easy in that town to judge others. I felt judged. I felt that people looked down on us. I spent the majority of my childhood trying to prove to the people in that town that I was good enough. Now, to be fair to them. I don’t have memories of being mistreated by anyone. In fact, I was popular in high school (as popular as you could be for a high school of 100 kids). But it was always something you felt when you were around them; like we were all aware I didn’t have the things they did.
What I thought I wasn’t good enough for….I don’t know. But I felt that I needed to show people that I could be something. Or be someone. That I was equal to them.
I busted my rear in school and got straight A’s. Actually, I didn’t have to bust for that too hard. But I still worked hard because I wanted to graduate at the top of my class and get a scholarship to college so I could make something of myself and show them.
It wasn’t until I did that, went to college, graduated, got a job and actually moved back (close) to that small town and turned 30 that I realized I didn’t have to prove anything to them. I felt free. I was proud of who I was regardless of their approval. I was able to let it go and just be me.
And it’s been great.
But old habits, they die hard. And I’ve found myself sliding back into that approval seeker again. Not with those people. But with friends and close acquaintances.
Maybe it was the move? I will be honest and say that for awhile, I did wonder what all those other people thought of me. “There she goes from pop. 271 to pop. 680,000+” But not because I wanted to feel better than them. I just wanted them to be proud of me. But I am proud of me. I kept reminding myself.
That and there’s something about being a small fish in a big pond that makes you put things in perspective. There are thousands of others here doing the same as you: just trying to make a life.
But my friends. That’s where the true test is. I’ve never lived more than 40ish miles from my closest friends. I’ve never really had to work at friendships with them. We were able to just be, regardless of the phase of life we were in.
But this distance, it changes things. I knew that it would, for some of my friendships. But the closest ones, I didn’t think it could really change the strength of the bond. And maybe it hasn’t but proximity plays a large part in friendships. It helps communication, for one. When all you have is calls, texts and social media to communicate…it could strain things.
The last few days, I’ve found myself wanting to prove to the people I love the most that I’m worth loving. I basically have tried to “suck up to them” for their approval.
Now, I have reminded myself that I don’t need anyone’s approval; that if you love me, you love me for all of me – good, bad and hangry. But the absence of their love scares the security out of me and can really make me feel lonely. So, I’m overcompensating for my insecurity and trying too hard. I don’t think they notice, but I do. And it makes me feel desperate for their attention.
I realized this today and actually text one of my girls to tell her. To admit to her and to ask, “why can’t I move past this?”
“Patterns of behavior and thought processes are deeply engrained. Not that they can’t be overcome but like our bodies, we have to put good stuff in to get good stuff out.”
Honest and real talk.
I have to remind myself that no one is perfect and that things change. But that doesn’t mean it has to be bad. I’ve built a strong enough foundation with these friendships that proximity does not have to be a factor.
Good in. Good out.