The enemy that’s me
You know that feeling when you are on the brink of a new experience which challenges you beyond the familiar, into the Great Unknown? That moment your brain starts to object **looks- at- her- own- imperfections- and- shortcomings** and all sorts of failure appear in your minds eye, because you’ve reached your mental ceiling?
Being my own worst enemy is, unfortunately, nothing new to me. Although I am the kind of person whose first choice is to play safe, I will reach ‘the ceiling’ at one point. If I want to grow, improve myself, broaden my horizon (take your pick…), I will have to take the proverbial leap of faith.
You see, this new challenge presenting itself, is not actually new… it has been lurking in the back – way back if I can help it – of my mind for some time already. Why, I keep asking myself, not just surrender and go with it. Because, that’s what I will end up doing anyway.
I grew up in a village in the Netherlands, with only a couple of colored families. Since my parents were from Indonesia, I grew up with slightly different customs, food and beliefs. And, oh yeah, I have a permanent tan. From a young age I had to wear glasses and my very long hair was always in a braid. Somehow, people thought I would appreciate their comments about their assumptions about my origin and “shouldn’t I be going back there”.
Safe to say, I learned to defend myself early on. Now I am not the shy kind. My smart mouth served me well and my angry stare could be a nice addition. By the time I was attending high school, this was my armor, which quickly caused my fellow students to name me arrogant. I wore that title for many years.(It was not until the term “resting bitch face” came to existence, that I fully understood the way I looked – and still do)
The ‘cool’ people were never my pack, I never wanted to look like them, be like them, loosing myself and my opinions to some greater good. I made my own friends, created my own style – literally created my own clothes and let my voice be heard when necessary. My ways of expressing myself (my clothes / appearance and attitude), seemed to affect the way others approached me: I knew I somehow stood out, their looks were pretty obvious, their ‘whispers’ loud enough for me and anybody around me to pick up…random strangers would voice their opinion about me. I did not want the attention, just wanted to be myself.
I do not recommend it, but ignorance can be bliss. I developed the ability to ignore eye contact while walking around / outside. Gaze focused straight ahead. (And yes, this has lead to passing by friends or acquaintances up close without noticing, to the point of total hilariousness and awkwardness).
I was not an easy kid. It’s not that I wanted to be a nuisance particularly, I just followed my own way to reach set goals – and let’s not forget the smart mouth. This did lead to some bad behavior, like skipping classes which resulted in failing my exams…. twice. In the meanwhile, my armor did the job and had grown on me, becoming more than just an attitude. I guess my character agreed early on, that resistance was futile. Negativity could not really bring me down, except for the feelings that came from inside me
As mentioned, I was raised with certain beliefs. This was a way of life for my Mom, not just religion. And there was one thing she would always remind me of, saying: “I cannot take your hand and take you to heaven with me, you are to make your own choices in life”. And so I have to emphasize; I am not here to convince you about anything, it is simply not in my power to do so. It is why my Mom said what she said.
Expectations were very, very low. After failing twice I had to change schools and my third exam was approaching fast, with only 3 months left. I was so far behind on several classes ( I hadn’t been around for half of them), there was no doubt I got my work cut out for me…still, it would be a miracle if I would succeed. Odds were not in my favor, yeah messed that up quite good. Deciding I needed serious help, I needed to make a choice. So I did the one thing that made sense: I challenged God. I had seen with my own eyes, how things would change whenever my Mom prayed. I was on the receiving end multiple times, when I was suffering from migraines, I would feel better after her prayers, almost instantly…. She believed and she got answers.
The challenge was sealed with a deal: I would work real hard and He would help me understand and remember what I learned, in short, infuse my brain. I had to pass. After that, I would never doubt His existence again. My friends laughed in my face, whenever we were discussing the upcoming exams and I would decidedly claim I would pass.
I never really relented to any peer pressure and was confident enough to choose my own ways despite the criticism. But although my ‘armor’ was firmly in place, I still had to fight the way I saw myself. The way I judged myself. I messed up in school, my attitude got the better of me. I had to make a change, get my act together, turn a new leaf…. Climb a mountain….
Faith does not always makes life easier, sometimes it might feel quite the contrary… it does however makes it interesting and gives me something strong and unchanging to hold on to. Especially when things spiral out of control. ( I do not believe I’m really in control to be honest). It empowers me to go beyond my limitations. Any challenge can be met with hope, though shaking in my boots. Seemingly unachievable goals can be reached.
It enables me to be myself, express myself freely.
How do you ‘do you‘
New school, new job, new country, new people, new blog, new anything really. It freaks me out every time. I don’t even know why I always insist on resisting. I mean, I know that mountain is in front of me, smirking me right in the face. ** insert evil laughter**
How do you cope with challenges in your life? Faith might be my ‘bridge’ to overcome things, but if yours differ from mine, I am just as curious to hear from you!
I feel like there are a lot of you’s out there with similar experiences. Have your life’s choices and the way you express yourself, made it hard to hold on to your values? Is doubt getting in the mix too? Do you get that daily dose of criticism and judgement from the people around you, because you ‘just don’t fit in’ ?
Care to Share?
Tell me how you do ‘you’ I would love to hear from you!