By: Terri Hayes
Of Pangolins and Teenagers
One Christmas, my husband (Ron) and I had daughter #4 make some custom Christmas cards to give to our immediate family. She was running low on ideas for cute kid cards for our grandchildren. So I talked to daughter #2 to ask what her kids are currently into to give daughter #4 some ideas. She told me both of her kids were really into pangolins lately. I’m like, oh yeah, penguins would make a cute card! Not penguins, pang·guh·luhnz. “What’s that?” I asked her. She told me it was like a scaly anteater. So, of course I google them. I was in a hurry, so I peeked, was not impressed, thought they were rather ugly and the next time I chatted with daughter #2 gave her my opinion. She rebutted with, “awe, but they’re so cute!” Knowing this daughter is drawn to cute things like kittens, I thought maybe I should give pangolins another look-over. After giving pangolins a little more time and attention, I could see them more from daughter #2’s perspective although the word I would use is more like “cool.” Their scales look dragon-like, and their defense is to roll up into a ball. Very cool! So, now I’m a pangolin fan rather than pangolin hater.
Now, on to teenagers. Well, transport back to when I was a teenager anyways. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a thoroughbred tomboy. As I approached high school, social cues told me that I should be liking boys… you know, in the hand-holdy type way. I struggled to transition from being “one of the guys” and competing with and against them, to trying to like them and date them. I didn’t feel like I was dating material and apparently the guys didn’t either.
I have a sister that is a year and two weeks younger than I am. She had the cute girly figure, the flirting smile, liked proper girly things, and literally had herds of boys following her around.
So, all I had to do to catch a boy’s attention and start getting asked out on dates was to watch how my sister and the cheerleader type girls acted and follow suit. It was a horrible attempt! Any time we try and be something we’re not, it’s disturbing if not downright creepy! I’ll not go into detail but let’s just say it didn’t get me the results I was hoping for.
Trying to be something or someone you are not is exhausting. Besides that, if you gain friends or boyfriend/girlfriend in that manner, they “like” someone that isn’t really you! You attract others that aren’t really “your people.” I think this is common for teenagers, and truth be told, we get sucked into this as adults as well. Wanting to be part of a community is an inherent need and can cause us to wander out of integrity with who we are at times – trying to act or be a certain way to fit in with whatever group we want to be a part of.
Me not liking the pangolin right off the bat did not mean there was anything wrong with the pangolin. It was ALL about where I was in my understanding of pangolins. The pangolin had always been cool and interesting, I just missed out on that because of my lack of interest or knowledge. The same is true about you and me! You are awesome, I am awesome, and if someone doesn’t like me or you or anyone else, it’s all about what’s going on (or not going on) in THEIR mind and doesn’t affect our awesomeness! Could you imagine what our world would look like if we all just went about being ourselves and attracting the people that resonate with the real us? No pretending or faking. All the mind drama that is taken up trying to figure out how to fit in could be directed towards making the world a better place just by being me and you just being you! No one, I mean no one is liked by everyone! Even the nicest people have haters. If someone doesn’t like you, it has everything to do with them and where they currently are in life and in their present thinking and has nothing to do with you. If someone doesn’t like me, that’s ok. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Do you like everyone all the time? As I’ve thought about this, I truly would rather have a fan club on one side and haters on the other. It shows I’m standing up for something. Showing up in the world. Expressing myself. If everyone were to like me, it may indicate that I’m hiding and not giving my all because I don’t give enough to love or hate. I’m just existing.
Brené Brown said, “If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”
There may a price to pay for hiding and not living your truth.
As I look back on teenage me, I wish I could convince her the world needed her just as she was, not a lousy copy-cat of someone else! I wish I could assure her that what people think of her has nothing to do with her worth whatsoever. But alas, I cannot. However, I can learn from that and be 100% me now. I can love me for who I am now and look forward to the person I will grow into, focusing on what I am vs what I am not. So, go out there and be yourself! Attract those that are like-minded and use your mental resources to adore your life and elevate the world around you!
Comment below your favorite attributes about yourself.