Last week my wife and I watched Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Bruce had come to this country and felt out of place and rejected by American society. We then talked about our own childhood experiences of rejection and how we dealt with them in different ways.
When I was in the first or second grade there was a kid who called me “alien”. I always sat by myself at lunch and played alone on the playground. I lived miles from town on the municipal airport and only really interacted with my cousins and younger brother so my social skills were… stunted.
But after being called names I kind of closed up even more. But looking back, it was the start of a good thing. Not being concerned with what people thought of me.
The other piece to this was at a department store, my mom wanted me to try on some clothes. The dressing room was basically a curtain. I was scared about someone busting in. She told me not to care what other people think. Sure enough, a lady did bust in whilst I was changing. With my worst fear realized and having survived the experience (no permanent damage), I internalized my mom’s sage-like advice.
This is one of the most helpful and liberating philosophies you can have while growing up.
Throughout high school and college, it was easy for me to never smoke or do drugs like most of my friends. I drank when I was 18 once (there was a margarita machine at my parents’ wedding reception!) and then waited until I was 21 to do it again.
It was very easy to be comfortable with who I was while growing up. If people thought I was cool, great. If not, okay. I had my art and was grounded in that.
The girls I crushed on were the only ones I really let affect me. After numerous heartbreaks, I relearned not to wrap up your self worth in the opinions of others.
While my family means the world to me, I don’t let them define me. If you focus on constantly improving and being the best you can be I think you are doing pretty good.
I will leave it up to Delilah to share her own experiences if she wants on her blog (I’m done writing for today) but suffice it to say we came to the same conclusion if years later. If there is any takeaway, it is making choices you are happy to live by, treat others like you would want to be treated, and let people think what they will. They will anyway.