Self Awareness

I'd like to say this post is going to be all about fashion. I mean, really, just take a look at those amazing color combinations. This was the fall of 68' and I was heading into first grade. Plaid pants and pullover orange shirt with a stiff collar. I just wish I could remember what shoes I was wearing. I truly appreciate that my mother (or maybe it was my sister) took the time to show me how to tuck in my shirt and brush my hair at such an early age.

For me, when I think back and meditate on the time, one of the loveliest thoughts of starting first grade is what is missing. Starting school in first grade I can not come up with any feeling or emotion that leads me to think anyone teased me about what I was wearing or how I looked. Perhaps there was some of this type of rhetoric from a few of the children; however, for me, I don't recall experiencing this emotion until early on in seventh grade.

By the time I was 12 years old and entering seventh grade, I was what the childrens fashion industry at the time called "husky". Finding pants that were big enough around the waist, yet short enough for the legs was sometimes a challenge. Moving through elementary school I don't recall my size every really being an issue. It wasn't until I was faced with the junior high social scene that I begin to realize the abundance of emotional trauma available on any given day.

For me, I was fortunate to have a core group of solid friends from elementary school that I could retreat with for sanctuary. They knew me for the individual that I was; rather than the physical manifestation of my body presence. This somehow allowed me the confidence to begin exercising and eating a little more consciously. Interestingly, by the time I had reached ninth grade, I weighed less than I did at the beginning of seventh grade. Still, I carried with me the emotional trauma from early seventh grade for quite some time.

Unfortunately, many children do not enter junior high with a core group of solid friends from elementary school. They are exposed to a social scene riddled with trauma, wholly unprepared for the emotional fallout. For me, the coping tools I learned in junior high and early high school stuck with me for quite a few years. Initially I learned to suppress emotions and then in high school I began to use alcohol to change how I was feeling. These were two of my go-to tools that seemed to work for quite a while.

Regrettably, I carried these tools with me until my early 30's when I finally became self-aware. As an individual who has gone through junior high, as well as a parent of a couple children who have survived middle school, I am a proponent of early and continued communication. Somehow, we need to learn early on that it is appropriate, safe and healthy to share our emotions with someone. 

It may feel uncomfortable (very uncomfortable) at first; however, sharing how we feel, to someone who cares, goes a long way at helping to develop personal self awareness.