Reflections on the Self

English 101

3 February, 2004

Growing up is probably one of the few invariables in life that we all must go through. This process might take a little longer for some, but the experience of getting older can be difficult. The road to adulthood and maturity can be tough and often is, but it is this path that we take that formulates all of our learning and growth experiences. If growing up wasnít hard enough, we also have to deal with other people who are growing up as well. Generally these other people are our peers, friends, classmates and everyone else who we seek acceptance from. As I met and interacted more as a teenager I started to discover that opinions were already formed of me and I treated me accordingly. Whether it was a good or bad, right or wrong opinion of me didnít matter. I did not understand how someone who has never spoken to me can tells others of what and who I am. I was stereotyped and for the most part they were not good steretypes. The three instances that still bother me to this day happened in High School. As a decent looking kid who loved sports and was a little shy, I was stereotyped as a dumb jock that could only play sports and was too conceited to speak to anyone.

Was that the case? Was I so stuck up that I deemed myself above everyone else? Thatís a no, a hell no to be more precise. As rumors spread, mostly by girls, I started to receive a reputation I didnít like. To be honest, I cared a lot about what my peers thought of me. Reflecting back on High School now, I donít know why, but I used an enormous amount of effort to change what was being said and how I was perceived. As a person who felt the undeniable need to please everyone, I frequently broke down emotionally when I could not figure out why people saw me this way. The most distinct instance that stands out was when I had the biggest crush on a girl in my English class. Her name was Brandy Young and she was the smartest, funniest and most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Brandy thought pretty much the same of me, much to my dismay as I found out four years later.

We only spoke when the daily assignment or lesson plan forced us to do so. In these instances I felt my tongue swell up and my brain shut off. I was so shy and scared of saying the wrong thing that I rarely said anything to her. Unfortunately, the more and more I did this with her, Brandy started to buy into the stereotype that I was conceited. We paired up for class less and less until we eventually did not interact at all. She then became the girlfriend of one of my best friends and that, as they say, was that.

The second instance came when I would walk around campus form class or practice. Friends that I had made in class would wave to me or say hi, and it would take a moment or two to register who they were. This noticeable delay in my acknowledgements were often attributed to me being conceited. I never knew this then, but after speaking to a couple of people from high school, I discovered that and in reflection the truth of the matter was that I had very poor eyesight and was too embarrassed to wear the cheap, nerdy glasses that were the only pair my single mother could afford.

Both positive and negative instances can and often help to shape the adult we become. Good and bad times outline the very course and direction of our lives. My main problem growing up was that I was so concerned with achieving that acceptance that I regularly found myself trying to change who I was to meet the criteria these people had for me. Jock, conceited, shallow.