I watch it every day. But today it feels heavier than most.
I watch a beautiful girl act in ways that can’t be described as anything but ugly, in the name of making herself feel the beauty she already possesses. I see her feel threatened. Insecure. Hurt. Defensive. And in that defensiveness, I see her let go of her beauty. She responds out of those dark places in her heart, out of the need to prove them all wrong. To show them how absolutely unthreatened she is. How secure and how strong and how independent. How they won’t tell her who she is. How they don’t have an impact on how she feels on herself.
I see this countless times a day, in countless little girls. The endless cycle that would make a middle school girl tear others down in order to make sure they know she’s untouchable.
And it breaks my heart every time, because I see myself in her every time.
Because to be perfectly honest, they do the same thing to me. I wish I could say that being the adult in the situation means that I never feel the sting. That it doesn’t ever hurt to hear them compare me, insult me, misjudge me, critique me, disrespect me.
I wish I could say that being the adult in the situation means that I never respond out of my own defensiveness. Out of the dark places in my heart, out of the need to prove them all wrong. To show them how absolutely unthreatened I am. How secure and how strong and how independent. How they won’t tell me who I am. How they don’t have an impact on how I feel about myself.
I’m not sure you ever completely outgrow being a middle school girl, no matter how many degrees you have or how good your job or how talented you are or how great your hair looks when you first wake up. A little part of us is still that seventh grade girl, asking the people around us if we’re beautiful or special or enough.
A lot of people would tell you that vulnerability has no place in teaching. I’m not sure I believe that. Sometimes I think they need to see someone who knows it’s okay to not be okay, and hear that it’s okay for them to not be okay, too. That not being okay doesn’t mean engaging in a pattern of scratching and clawing so that no one around you feels okay either.
That sometimes, you can be not okay…and just be that.