The philosophy I believe in the most stemmed from an experience I had in sixth grade. As a new student to a prestigious private school, I already felt intellectually inferior to my peers. However, as I began soccer season and made friends everyone saw me as the “cool” new girl from public school (which was the last thing I felt.) It didn’t occur to me that anyone would actually notice this incompetence until one day in music class when a student made a remark about Africa being a continent. Having never taken one geography class nor ever really examining a map, I disagreed.
After that one moment, laughter in the room echoed through my mind before I spoke in class for years. Running back to homeroom to confirm my stupidity with our history teacher was an extension of my dreadful humiliation. That single moment remained as the running joke of our class until our graduation day regardless of all the other wonderful things I had accomplished and tests I had aced.
Constantly being made inferior and reminded of that inferiority coupled with laughter resulted in one of the worst emotions I have ever felt. I was clearly labeled “stupid” and could not even wear the color pink without receiving a question of whether or not I had dyed my hair this color. It did not help that my older brother happened to be one of the brightest of his class, had straight “A’s” with little to no applied effort, and was in essence the golden child. I paled in comparison and it was more than obvious.
I am not saying I did poorly in school. I actually did well. However, my success came from hours upon hours of rigorous study and hard work rather than natural ability. Proving myself came to be a day-to-day task and it finally pushed me over the edge when an actual friend of mine’s jaw dropped to see my “A” grade on a calculus test over her “B+.” It was then that I realized that the only person convinced that I was some stupid girl whose opinion mattered, was me. Offended, I offered her tutoring for the next test.
My own laughter ceased when jokes were made in front of me and I spoke up to even my best friends. I did this not only because I was exhausted of defending myself but I was tired of behaving like it was an acceptable treatment from not only my friends but from my peers, my equals.
At our senior assembly, I was asked to be a representative of our class and make a small speech about a fond memory I had from this school. Instead, I talked about the incident in music class and how most importantly, one must always believe in themselves because no matter what you will always have fans, and more often have critics.
Having self-confidence is difficult; liking yourself is even harder. But when you finally reach a point in your life when you begin to trust your own instincts and behaviors, you may actually love yourself. When that starts to happen, others will love you too, and if for some reason they still fail to see your positive abilities and attributes, their opinions are not worth worrying about anyway.