I’m packing up my house at the moment. There’s an exciting and scary and stressful and wonderful reason why I am, which I will write about once I’m done (and no it’s not the next sailing trip yet. Unfortunately El No No won that particular battle).
I couldn’t have picked a worse time to pack up my house – the boat is out of the water and demanding attention, Paddy and I are both busy with work and all sorts of other things keep getting in the way, but that’s the way it is.
Packing up my house and my life has also thrown up an added complication. It’s making me want to write. I’ve had a block for ages but now I keep finding things and thinking things and seeing things that make me want to stop and scribble. Of course I can’t – the best I can do is make notes and hope it will all still be there when I get a chance to stop.
I did find something tonight though that I really have to share. I have to share it because I have been witnessing people struggling with stepping back and seeing themselves for who they really are lately – both in the real world and online. People who don’t have the perspective right now to see that they are great.
It’s a silly thing and I haven’t really known why I kept it until now.
Back in the 90s when I left high school I was given a “work skills and personal skills” statement. It was basically a summary of a bunch of comments from my teachers about what sort of person I was. It was pretty quirky and informal and I suspect they don’t do things this way any more, but it made me smile so I kept it.
In my last year of high school I was going through a lot of crap. Normal teenage angst compounded with learning to accept and deal with having a mental illness. It was something only my family and closest friends knew about. When I think back I picture a scared, stressed out drama queen trying to cover up everything by being loud and cracking jokes. What I didn’t see then, and what I am only just starting to see now, was the strong, tough young woman trying to find her place in the world and not giving up when things got hard.
That was what my teachers saw.
Here are a couple of passages that will give you an idea of what I mean (an also a bit of an insight into what a stroppy little shit I was). The emphasis is mine.
“Anna has a very independent, individualistic approach to life and asserts her personality through rather unorthodox but quite spectacular means such as her frequent and eye-catching changes of attire. Although she has an idiosyncratic approach to life in general and school in particular, her ideas and behaviour are always positive rather than negative and narrow-minded. She is not influenced by currently popular fashions or fads and presents herself to the world as she wants, not as she thinks she should.
Anna’s unorthodox approach and her witty, ironic personality means that she gets on well with a wide range of students, some of whom tend to regard her as an iconic figure around the school. Although she always speaks her mind (often forcefully and at some length) she is sensitive to the opinions of others, in fact, she is very interested in other opinions, even if she disagrees with them entirely.”
Teenage Anna was strong and stroppy and entirely herself. She was actually pretty awesome – it’s just a shame she didn’t realise it at the time.
I never thought I’d say this, but I actually aspire to be my teenage self again.
This is a weird sort of a blog, but I guess it’s a message to other teenage (and adult) me’s out there. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in negative perceptions of yourself and not step back and see the person you actually are. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective (even if it is nearly 20 years too late).
It’s too easy in the panic and the stress and the pain to overlook all the good that you are. You don’t see what your teachers see, what your friends and your family see.
So please, just bear with my self-help hippy crap for a minute. Just take a step back, breathe and actually see yourself. You are pretty awesome.
Now I just have to learn to take my own advice!
Right – back to packing!