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hello seventh-grade self

liz lamoreux

Over here in my corner this week, I am becoming friends with my seventh-grade self.

As I sit here in my little house as Ellie Jane naps, I am thinking about how the Internet is such a distraction and such a gift. But when it distracts, it can really knock me into a dark part of my corner where I am no longer thinking about the light.ness or how my corner sings, but am instead sitting inside fear and envy and deep hurt. It is funny how I can let this little box that sits in front of me have so much power…it is funny how I can feel like I am right back in middle school as I click from link to link. Because of the Internet, there are so many things we can experience that are not so helpful or healthy, such as:

Experiencing an unfriending
Feeling like a fly on a wall when reading unkind things about ourselves
Wishing our life looked like someone else’s
Thinking that a blog post represents who someone really is
Gossiping about someone’s new creative adventure/endeavor
Comparing ourselves to people we have never even met
Comparing ourselves to our friends
Becoming a bit of a stalker as we notice someone who we thought was a friend comment on everyone else’s walls/blog posts/Flickr photos while we experience radio silence

I write these things knowing there is so much more to add to the list and knowing that even though I feel some shame at experiencing all these things myself, I am not alone in any of this.

Hello seventh-grade self.

One truth though is that I can control a lot of this. I can choose how I respond or how I spend my limited free time or where I go when I click from site to site. (There is so much we can control if we choose.)

And then there are the things I can’t control. I can’t control what others will say. There are the things I know about that become like a broken record in my head. (She is an amateur. Just look at her blog. Who does she think she is?) Then the things I don’t know about become empty balloons above people’s heads that I fill in with assumptions and fears.

Hello seventh-grade self.

And I appreciate the idea of “you just have to let it go,” because you can’t control it. You cannot know why people do what they do or say what they say. You are only in charge of you. (I am only in charge of me.) But that letting go thing is not always easy, and to be honest, when someone tells me to do just that, I often feel like they are dismissing the very real feelings I am having. And those feelings, although perhaps a waste of time, are real and swirling around inside me.

Recently though a friend challenged me in a different way. Instead of telling me to let it go or focus on how there is so much more good than not so good, she said something like this, “When you feel like you should go back and read those words, do something else.” She pushed me to see that my free time could be filled with “eating peaches” (oh how I love peaches) or resting or working on something good instead of trying to find out if people like me. (Okay, I added that last part, but I know that was what she was gently suggesting.)

I slept on it.

And the next morning I had this thought: Instead of wasting time on that “stuff” (the collective “stuff” that distracts me from making my corner beautiful), I am going to dance. Whenever the thought comes that I should to "click" to see if I am measuring up, I am going to stand up and dance, even if just for a second or two.

But before I could put this into practice, as Ellie took her morning nap, I found myself right back inside seventh grade.

(Sigh.)

At least I saw it happening this time.

And I decided to go into my folder of photos from my childhood to see if I could find my seventh-grade self. I wanted to have a picture in my mind to think about whenever this happened. As you probably guessed, there she is…right there at the top of this post. Doing the “Glee” thing (before Glee was cool) at a theatre summer camp in Wisconsin.

As I looked at this photo, I started thinking about my braces and the boy that I “liked” then (and wanted to “go with” not that we were going anywhere) and the pimples and the bad "oh my goodness why did she let me do it" perm. I started thinking about the not fitting in and the wanting to be someone else and the wishing my friends actually liked the real me who I was afraid to be a lot of the time.

And then all this collided with thinking about my decision to dance when I started to feel like I am not “measuring up.” And I looked at the next photo…

 

Oh. Hello seventh-grade self.

Hello girl who is so happy to be dancing and singing her heart out on a stage. Hello seventh-grade self (who lives inside me even now) who didn’t care what one person in that audience thought about her because there was no place she would rather be than living in that moment, singing, and smiling so big inside she thought she could change the very world with that song.

Hello seventh-grade self.

 

It is good to be spending time with you again.