“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.” –The Wizard of Oz
I have stumbled through life under the weight of a “something is wrong with me” anvil on my back.
My Mom cut my hair off in fourth grade, because I was a strange little girl who hated making it look pretty, and when I went to school the next day, my crush told me I looked like an alien.
I remember in sixth grade wanting my hair to lay flat like the girls who had already kissed a boy.
I was the last person to have my first kiss of my friends, but the first person to be bullied so hard that I wanted to change schools.
As I got older, I was taught that there are a plethora of things to feel bad about, including but not limited to my big front teeth, my too-small jeans that couldn’t keep up with my gangly growth spurts, my ghostly skin and freckles, my eyebrows, my almond shaped eyes, my flat chest, my fat fingers — EVERYTHING. I became painfully aware of how I looked, and it just didn’t match up with everybody else.
I wanted so badly to be a tan, straight-haired, normal clothes wearing beauty, but I ended up feeling like an open sore on Washington County’s existence.
I know “I felt like I didn’t fit in” isn’t an earth-shattering concept, but it’s important to recognize if it’s still a parasitic belief you carry.
I continued thinking this way all throughout college. I figured out pretty early that I wasn’t the sorority type, but I had no clue what type I was, so as usual, I just assumed that it was me. I didn’t go to formals. I didn’t wear tight dresses to parties. I still couldn’t get my hair down, so I overcompensated with bows. I was once again, painfully aware that I didn’t look or feel like everybody else.
College was still a wonderful experience, and I had a lot of fun — too much fun — but I couldn’t help but think that I wouldn’t feel validated, or “normal” until I got a job.
I thought, “When I get a job at a news station, I will feel validated because that means I tricked someone into thinking nothing is wrong with me.”
Okay, so I got a job writing and doing some camera work for a news station eight months after graduation. Did that cure me? No.
I thought, “Why am I not like Taniya (side note, she is a beautiful goddess and one of my closest friends). Why don’t I get more camera time? I will never be as pretty or confident as my coworkers.” To comfort myself, I thought, “when I become a full-time reporter, I will know that nothing is wrong with me. I will be on television everyday, after all!”
Anddddd nothing changed. I became a full time reporter, and then new worries and pains rose from the trenches of my deepest insecurities. This time it was, “why haven’t I been trained to anchor? They don’t think I’m pretty enough to carry a show. It’s my tattoos. I look trashy. It’s my big teeth. It’s my tiny eyes that disappear when I smile.” I came up with answers to questions no one was asking because the hole inside my heart was insatiable.
No achievement or compliment would make me feel complete, because I thought the world was against me. I was the author of a story that Sarah was always going to be different and weird, and nobody would love her.
But, we can change our stories.
When I stopped comparing myself to others and started validating myself from within, I became happier with the fact that I am different.
It’s an everyday battle, but I’m learning to love the things that make me different. I like that I have dark hair and green eyes. I like that I have pale skin, because my freckles are cute. I like that my friends tease me about being angsty, because I am and I own it.
I promise you that the things you probably hate about yourself are the reason why people are drawn to you. Please don’t wait as long as I did to figure this out. I kept relying on external events to tell me that nothing was wrong with me and I was just like everybody else, but it was never going to be enough.
I think it’s cool that basically Wednesday Adams is on the news every day.
They let me anchor, by the way. 😉