1974 Kinder Christmas party. Inside that parcel is a hippo money bank, in blue and purple flock. It changed colour with the temperature. It was, quite simply, the best.
And that girl in the photo, showing a bit of leg in a mum-made dress, she was taking shape as a person. Reserved, awkward and forever self-conscious of the curly blonde hair everyone wanted to touch. And she retreated inside. A while ago Rosie wrote about unconditional love. I felt as though she was talking about me. So without going into too much depth - yes I did grow up loved, but it was not always unconditional. We had to look right, behave right, study hard - make our parents proud. There were boundaries which we were not allowed to cross. So I grew up knowing not to ask, because the answer would be no. I grew up with the understanding that one day I would be free of the dominance of home. But by then, some habits were so ingrained they could not be changed without a tremendous amount of effort. Mistakes were not smoothed out, they were dwelt upon and there was guilt to be had. And we weren't even Catholic!
I don't have a great sense of my own self-worth. It's hard for me to accept praise for what it is. Usually I feel as though it's misdirected. And generally I feel that whatever I do, it's just not quite good enough. Yep, I'm hard on myself. I recognise that. I can understand that. It's hard to change that.
I don't know how I present myself to the world. I look at other people who seem so self assured, self-confident and brave. How do they do it? I'm constantly wracked with self-doubt and perhaps a bit of self-loathing for all the things I'm not that I think I should be. I've been told I'm a closed person - it's a protective mechanism. If you keep people at arm's length they can't judge you harshly. Perhaps it makes me seem aloof. I can't really tell.
Yesterday I had a chance meeting with an old school friend. One of those friends you got along with at school, but wasn't in the "inner circle". We haven't seen each other for the best part of 20 years. So there was a lot to talk about. This girl was apologising for her lack of formal education as she explained the path she had followed. Whilst I may be hard on myself, I make no judgement on other people and how they conduct their lives (unless they're into bad stuff). At school she'd come across as a happy, funny, friendly girl. I didn't expect her to feel, perhaps, embarrassed by the fact she'd gone straight from school to employment. And then she was asking what I had done. Because, she said, "You're so smart - you would have had a fabulous career before you had kids, and I bet they're really smart too, just like you." She said some other nice things. Stuff that surprised me. She might have been wrong on a few counts, but in a few sentences she had told me who she thought I was. And it was all nice. She didn't say I was a dud and she said she'd like to keep in touch. She didn't say I was a overthinker who was a bit f*#@!d in the head.
And on the way home, Vanessa Amorosi was singing This Is Who I Am
So, I'm not sure if I really want know who you think I am - I've probably revealed too much already!
My inner and outer selves don't always seem to match. I am an overthinker, and perhaps a little sensitive. But I'm a work in progress.