Every now and then, I forget. I forget that I have a voice. I forget that my voice works. I forget that my voice is not insignificant, that it is not less than the voices of those around me.
I forget that I’ve grown and that I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, three years ago, last Tuesday.
But there’s always something that happens when I see certain people. People who make me feel less than. Whether intentional or not.
I feel it when I’m taken back to some point in my past, whether it’s a mere glance at a photo on Facebook of the life of someone I used to be friends with, or revisiting a place I used to go often, or even hanging out with old acquaintances.
And that’s when I begin to feel like a wallflower again. But it’s no one’s fault but mine. In the past, I let myself become a wall fixture. I let people think I was one. To the point that I felt like I was screaming underwater, but no one heard.
It hit me this past weekend. I think it’s because I just kept running into old acquaintances online and in person.
While glancing through my Facebook feed, I saw a picture of Mr. Lukewarm, and he has obviously moved on for like the fifth time *cough* player *cough*. Thankfully, it didn’t hurt as much anymore, which I was happy to note meant I too had moved on. But it still instigated something, drew me back to a vulnerable time and place in my life. A little closer to the wall.
Then I heard about a girl I knew from childhood. A girl I’m pretty positive didn’t like me much due to her actions when we were kids. I was drawn back further to the wall.
On Sunday, I visited my old church. I hit the wall. Hard. I admit, there was a certain comfort about being back to something familiar, but part of that familiarity was feeling like a wallflower.
It’s a combination of people stereotyping me as being quiet and not having anything to say, and me not doing anything to prove them wrong.
It was part of the reason I left. Or maybe “ran away” would be a better phrase.
It was great up to a point. I met new people, decided to step away from the wall.
But you know what? This wasn’t the only Sunday recently that I’ve felt “less than” again.
I also felt it at my current church. And again, at a party with my closest friends. And then again, when I was alone just thinking about life.
In a room of people who are all at a different life stage than me, couples, new parents with kids, women who are elegant and graceful and Pinterest-perfect. People who unintentionally make me, as a single, feel less important in this world than them because they are married and have kids. I feel a force pushing me back to the wall.
By myself as I stare out my bedroom window and think about what everyone else is doing on a Friday night while I am watching Disney Channel even though I’m more than a decade older than its target audience. And I feel a magnetic tug drawing me back to the wall.
And I scream, but no one hears.
Except that I hear. And I hate it.
And I realize, true, there will always be times when I feel “less than,” but I don’t have to take it sitting down. I don’t have to take it while adhering myself to the wall again.
Proactive, not reactive. That’s what I promised myself.
So instead of letting people think I’m a wallflower, I’ll just have to prove that I do have something worth saying. By talking more. And if they don’t want to listen to me, then they aren’t worth it anyway.
And instead of believing the lie that a woman with kids has more purpose in this world than one who is single, I have to start believing that what I do is important work too. That God has called everyone to do different things, but that doesn’t make one task more insignificant than any other.
I think too, that I have to realize, not everyone is going to like me or want to be my friend. That’s the hardest concept ever because I am a serious people pleaser, and I want everyone to like me. If they don’t, I exhaust myself trying to get them to.
I’m going to be myself, and if people don’t like who I am, then that’s their problem, not mine. But the people who like me for me—those are the people who won’t view me as a wallflower. Those are the people I want to surround myself with.
Like the people who do have kids or about to but still make me feel included in their lives.
And the people who don’t mind that I’m totally weird and want my book club’s mascot to be a giant stuffed microbe of a bookworm that I named Curly even though he freaks (some of) them out.
Most importantly, I have to remember never to treat anyone as “less than,” no matter how odd they seem.