I had a life-changing experience at my high school reunion this weekend. Sure, 25 years had gone by since we had graduated, but some things you carry with you forever.
One thing I have been carrying with me since my freshmen year is low self-esteem,only on a particular subject caused by a silly 15 year old boy, but it impacted my life. He made fun of my eyes. He asked me "Why are your eyes so squinty?". It may not be a big deal to you, but when you are a young girl, going through puberty and are made fun of by one of the coolest guys in school, it does affect you.
I practiced keeping my eyes wide open for as long as I could (I have small eyes, thank you, not squinty) and it lasted up until last night.
I didn't expect to see this guy again, since I did not see him RVSP for our reunion. My stomach turned ill the minute he walked in! There he was, the man that cursed me to be very unsure of myself when it came to my eyes. EYES! The truly awkward thing is that I grew to LOVE my eyes. I think they are my best feature. How strange is that? My downfall is also my favorite part of me.
I took nearly all of the night to work up the nerve to confront him about this. Yes, confront him! I truly believe when someone has made a negative impact on your world you should and NEED to let them know. I had to, for my own self. Bullies are no fun. I have a son that is bullied and I see what it does to his self-esteem and it crushes me. I know how he feels and what he is thinking. I can't fix it. So, I decided to set an example, albeit 25+ years later.
I described the who, what, when, where and how to my bully. I made him think back to his behavior in high school. I wasn't the only one picked on, trust me. I received a heart-felt apology and a great load lifted from my shoulders. He knew he was a jerk in high school, most boys were. I told him I wasn't doing this to make him feel bad, but to make me feel good, to help recover what was taken from me and to be able to tell my son what I did so that he too, could work up the nerve to stand up and speak out. I told him I had to set an example for my son, that facing your bully is nerve-wracking and a tad bit scary, but it will make you feel wonderful in the end. I took my life back, at least the part of it that had left me so insecure.
By the way, readers, I have been told over the years how beautiful my eyes were and how they loved the deep, green color. I never believed them, but now I do.
I was able to enjoy the remainder of the night feeling free and making a new, old friend. I hope I am able to impart this wisdom on my son and give him the courage to do as I did.
Hopefully, he won't carry around twenty-five years of insecurity.