First, let me say that no one should dwell on the past. But sometimes the past holds the key to our future. That’s what happened to me. My past was filled with insecurity, self-doubt, lack of self-esteem, and bullying. My parents were middle-class. My father was a pastor and my mother a nurse. They knew how to save their money for a rainy day and they took pride in their roles and their relationship. They had the kind of relationship that I wanted to emulate. What I didn’t know at the time was how to forge my own identity in a world that wanted to squish me like a bug.
There are a lot of kids out there who struggle with their role in life. Some kids are elite and have no problem letting the other kids know that they are the ones who are in charge. Kids can exhibit cruel behavior to other kids. When I was growing up, I didn’t have to contend with social media. Today, kids don’t have that luxury. Every move they make is recorded on a camera system, with lies and truths spread throughout text messages and other social media venues. It’s little to no wonder why so many kids feel bullied. My heart goes out to each one of them when they feel no one understands them. It’s a very volatile time for them. They are growing into their bodies and sometimes other kids make fun of them to the point they feel embarrassed or ashamed. We all develop differently and at different rates. If this world was meant for everyone to be on an equal platform, none of us would be different. We wouldn’t have different opinions and views to challenge one another. Nor would we be able to conceive different realms of reality. Some are gifted storytellers and musicians. Some make art that looks flawless and is designed to make us think and appreciate the unknown. Some teach while others learn and vice versa. Every component that pushes us further is a development from the past that shines in the future. Our gifts depend on us to be able to recollect memories and moments frozen in time that we are unlikely to forget.
When someone touches your heart and has left you alone in the world due to their death, often it’s therapeutic to remember the good times and honor that person’s memory with a gesture or a gift that helps others in the future. In my case, my former high school was a memory that brings back a lot of painful memories. I tried to be accepted into a world that I didn’t belong. Often, I would have to eat lunch by myself or be around others who wanted nothing to do with me. I carried that loneliness for a very long time. It made me cynical about those who had money. It took years to understand that not everyone was that way. What bothers me most is that when people criticize others and ridicule them, they may not care about the lasting impressions that those actions leave on those who are attacked. I can truly attest those actions can have impressions that last a lifetime. There may be scars that will never heal and are not visible to the naked eye. But they are there in the walls that are built for protection to someone’s heart and soul. Penetrating those walls is not easy. Other people pay the price for the actions of others whose insecurities leave behind damning legacies.
I’m not the kind of person that likes to see others hurt. If I could, I would take away the pain of many who struggle with self-esteem and lack of confidence. If I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that to move on from the past, we have to face the things that hurt us most. We need to acknowledge why things bother us so that we can deal with them head-on. I quit trying for a long time because I didn’t think my voice mattered. Am I alone in that feeling? I don’t think so. It took a very good friend to help pull me out of that dark world of self-criticism. We are all dealing with so many unknowns now. COVID has changed our world and it’s made depression and anxiety more prevalent among many groups. Kids in school are not dealing with as much of the bullying right now only because of the limited interaction in school. But being cooped up isn’t doing any of us any favors with depression. If anything, it’s made virtually everyone more irritable and vulnerable to anger and frustration than ever.
Many of us are still reeling in shock over how this virus has taken over. We are prone to anger and lashing out because we are being pushed to our limits. This is where going back to our roots can be beneficial. It’s helpful to look at how people in the past dealt with things. Some of those resources can still be used today. Board games become boring after a while just like card games do but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be indoors. You can still get exercise along with chores around the house. You can still talk to folks through Zoom and other venues. Many places have started opening back up. No matter where things are, as long as people are willing to learn from the past, we have the potential of preventing future problems.
If you are like me and bottle up emotions, it might be good to find a venue to help you sort through the drama. Lift the veil off those who are holding you back. I had to learn about my self-worth. The difficult part of the journey was learning to let go. Once I did that, I could forge ahead and forgive others by beginning to love myself. It’s a difficult lesson when you feel you are at the bottom of the barrel. Don’t let others make you feel that you aren’t good enough. It’s their issue. Being different is a blessing. It just means that you have your path that isn’t identical to anyone else’s. You will shine. It may not be when everyone else does, but that is irrelevant. What is important is that you believe in yourself and your dreams. When you can look back on your past, and know that your past is helping to shape your future, then imagine yourself in a brighter place than where you’ve been. Money does not equal success. It may to some, but money allows us to achieve certain goals and dreams. What it doesn’t do is define your character. Character is something that can make all the difference in the world. I hope that you choose the road that makes your life reflect both the past and the future. When people see that you are well rounded, they begin to understand the rough edges are part of a past that made you a survivor for the future.