Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Influences on a young mind

I had a memory float back into my consciousness the other day.

It was one day in Grade 1, and I was trying to get people’s attention for some reason. I don’t remember for what reason, but I think it was important to me and not some kind of attention-grab. It may have even been an attempt to help the teacher get the class’ attention, but I can’t be sure. The memory is somewhat fuzzy, but I do recall the feeling of what it was like to be up on my desk, with everyone below. I don’t remember the specifics of my getting in trouble, which of course I did, for standing up on my desk and likely yelling or speaking in some fashion to get everyone’s attention.

From that time on, I can only recall a couple of instances when I had gotten into trouble at school, for very minor things. I remember myself as being quiet and reserved, pretty shy, always chastised for being “smart.” My motto was (and still is, to an extent), be quiet, follow the rules, and you won’t get in trouble. I have to wonder how much that incident with the desk influenced me to form that rule and become who I am. What would have happened if the teacher hadn’t been there, and others started listening to me and followed what I had to say? Would it have affected my personality in some way? Would I be a more outgoing person? Would I be more of a leader and less of a follower? Would I take more risks?

I have always had a huge issue with acceptance from other people. Being “smart” meant that I was different from the rest, and to compensate for that, I tried to fit in as best I could in other ways. I always tried to follow whatever was the latest fashion trend, usually with poor results – no matter what I did, I could never get my hair to do anything like anyone else (some of you may recall my mentioning that I never got invited to the Hair Convention, where all my peers were taught the current “in” style). I always ended up separated from the pack, a fact that my mother pointed out to me one day when she said “no wonder you have no friends.” I know that statement had a huge impact on me, but I don’t know if my mother even recalls having said it. Since that day, I have tried to do anything to make myself acceptable to others. You can’t make people like you, but I have always tried to make myself as agreeable to others as I can… but I still blame myself when someone doesn’t like me. In my mind, it’s never their loss, it’s mine. I know that my view is backward, but I have never been able to fully correct it. I think I am slowly but surely working on it and getting better at it.

I worry about someday having children, how impressionable they are, and how many ways you can influence them negatively. We are not perfect, therefore our children are not. But it makes you wonder how the simplest of comments or actions may somehow have a huge impact on the person that child becomes. What would happen if I made a comment to my child, a comment that I might consider innocent, unimportant, or forgettable, but the child absorbs and reacts to it in a different way? I may have just changed that child for life without even knowing it. This thought alone is enough for me to steer away from the idea of having children. Add to that my perfectionist and OCD tendencies, and I think I’d go insane. For now, I will stick to my plan of not having children until I’m ready to handle the responsibility. I’m just not there yet (and possibly may never be, who knows).

In the meantime, I wonder about the events in my childhood that shaped who I am. Or maybe I was just that crazy girl in Grade 1 who stood on her desk on day.

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