04 December 2006

Lies, Lies, All Lies!

It's all my mom's fault.

When I was growing up she kept saying, "You are smart. You are beautiful. You can be and do anything in the whole world!" She lied to me.

She meant well. It was her reaction to her own childhood of being told she was ugly and stupid by her parents and her older sister. It is amazing that at 68 years of age, she still finds herself believing those things are true, even though they're not. She's beautiful - beautiful enough that men are STILL trying to pick her up, and she's quite smart - smart enough to overcome a severe learning disability and graduate nursing school with honors while in her 50's.

So, her family lied to her while she was growing up and she believed the lie. Then she countered that by lying to me while I was growing up. I, in turn, believed her lie.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not stupid. In fact, I'd concede that I am reasonably intelligent. I'm also not ugly. There are some days when I'd even venture to say I'm quite attractive. And I am multi-talented, inventive and capable on many fronts.

But I am NOT exceptionally smart, talented, or beautiful. I discovered the truth in High School. I wanted SO badly to be in the "gifted" classes. I had a 4.0 average, but I wanted more. So I took harder classes, and for the first time in my life, I started pulling in B's and C's (hello, math analysis!) instead of A's. Determined to break my way into the intelligentsia, I signed up for an IQ test.

I failed.

I failed an IQ test! I was completely devastated. Actually, I didn't fail per se, I just didn't measure up. I was 10 points shy of being gifted. For the first time I realized what I had been suspecting for a several months, I was not brilliant, I was only a shade above "ordinary".

Oh well, at least I had my looks. So I signed right up for two beauty pageants at school. I got 3rd runner-up in one and didn't place at all in the other. My posture was bad, I couldn't walk gracefully on heels, my hair was thin and wispy, and I didn't choose the kind of knock-em-dead acts that would assure me a win.

If at first you don't succeed, find another way to make a fool of yourself; I ran for class office. I didn't prepare a speech because I was confident I would think of something witty or clever to say when the time came. I didn't. I just looked like an idiot. They felt sorry for me and made me the class chaplain.

I never made a sports team. They didn't want me on the editorial staff of the yearbook or the literary magazine. I didn't make it into even one of the superlative lists in the yearbooks. I wasn't the chorus' prime soloist, I wasn't a pet for any of my teachers, no one ever pointed at me and said, "Oh my! There goes Groovy! She's SO cool! I wish I could be like HER!"

I was just a tad above mediocre. I was normal. I was ordinary. And I hated it.

I hated it because it clashed so brazenly with my expectations. Gone were the dreams of being anything I wanted be. Now I was going to have to find out who I REALLY was so I would know which life pursuits were reasonable for me.

The years since have been good to me. I have gained a realistic perspective on my gifts and abilities. I know what I do well, and I'm not ashamed to exercise my talents in those areas. I know to say "no" to certain opportunities because I'd stink in that position. I've given up any aspirations that require excessive braininess - they just wear me out! Instead, I stay close inside the parameters of who God made me to be.

And I'm happy here...at least I WAS happy, until I started homeschooling. More on that in my next entry.

1 comment:

Carole Burant said...

I think we're all a little hard on ourselves...growing up, I was SO shy, I didn't like any kind of attention at all so never joined any groups, any sports, etc., because of that shyness.