You know when you have that one friend who is prettier than you? Smarter than you? Better at sports than you? More popular than you? More confident and and outgoing than you? What can be worse?
When you call her your best friend.
We met in pre-school (or kindergarten as some of you may know it) and we instantly became friends. We went to the same primary school, and we became best friends. We were inseparable. Throughout primary school we were known to be the “outgoing, witty” one (that’s her) and the “shy, introverted” one (that’s me), but because we were so young, this didn’t really matter to me. Up until 7th grade…
We both wanted to be chosen as leaders for our school (which we both achieved) but both of us also wanted to be one of the head girls. Of course she was chosen, and that’s where I realized that my introverted personality will always be overshadowed by her extremely extroverted and loud personality.
So 8th grade also came and I thought this is my year to shine. This friend of mine and myself could start all over, new and fresh, in a new high school where nobody knew us. I could start learning how to be myself and get people to actually see me. I worked my butt off, got straight A’s, did drum majorettes, made the public speaking team, won the award for best performance in hospitality studies, made hundreds of new friends! And when it was time to vote for class captain, this happened…
My friend won. She was class captain.
For the next 4 years of high school we grew apart. I wasn’t angry with her, not in the least, but I needed some time to get to know myself, rediscover myself, and decide who I wanted to be. We were still very close friends, she probably still is my very best friend, but with a little space between us I felt as if I could finally breath. I made some wonderful friends, joined the hockey team, kept my straight A’s going. I won several awards for the things I worked for. I could easily chat to teachers and be myself. I still didn’t feel accepted, and loved for who I am, but rather for my hard work and achievements.
She of course did better. Got her A’s and B’s and C’s, joined the first netball team, made even more friends than me, and weren’t afraid to use her wit on the teachers and be herself. Everyone absolutely loved her. Everyone knew her name.
We filled in our applications for leaders. We both became leaders of our high school and were nominees for head girl (which, if you live in South Africa like we do, you will know is a very, VERY big deal.)
Everybody knew that she would be head girl. After our interviews I could hear the whole school buzzing, everybody forming this idea of her as our new head girl. But… on the night of the announcement there was an even bigger shock.
As we stood on the stage in front of the crowd, our school principal knew the name of the new head girl of 2014, her name written on the piece of paper in his hand. I was very calm, I knew that my name wasn’t written on that paper. In my head I was singing along to the song playing in the background (It’s the final countdown, do-do-do-doooo…), preparing myself for hearing him call out her name. I was used to disappointment, especially being disappointed because of her living my dreams. I tried to swallow down my tears, keeping the smile on my face. She had already written the speech she was going to deliver when he announced her as our head girl. I knew this because I had helped her to write this speech.
As the principal called out the name, I was pulled back to reality when she suddenly pushed me forward, yelling ” I told you so! ”
Tears welled up in my eyes as everyone hugged and congratulated me. I was called forward to deliver my speech (which of course I never wrote and had to do just there and then). I was chosen to be the head girl of 2014. All around me people told me how they voted for me and how I was perfect for this position. The school principal, all of my teachers, all of my friends were not only glad for me, but glad with me. They weren’t disappointed.
At school everyone knew my name, and I mean everyone. Even when I walked to class, people who I didn’t even know chatted with me. I had to deliver speeches at all of the school functions (luckily for me I’m very good at public speaking!), I got to organize tons of things, I was the boss of 38 other leaders, I was important. ME.
My matric year was the best year of my life. I got to be myself, and get praised for it. I knew all of this happened because I wasn’t afraid to be me. I realized that the reason I was overshadowed wasn’t because of her, but because of me. When I started accepting myself with the way I was, I realized that everyone else did too. When I started loving myself , everyone else did too.
Now, I am happy, I am loved, I am shining, I am proud, I am popular, I am important, I am somebody, I am ME.
If you too are in a place where you are afraid to be yourself, where you feel unimportant, like an outcast, if you aren’t comfortable in your own skin, if you wish your life could be like someone else’s, remember this:
In Grey’s Anatomy, Ellis Grey says :
”The carousel never stops turning.”
This is what had happened to me.
Never be afraid to be yourself.
” I AM GREAT! “
And others will too.
So, here’s to ME, MYSELF and I.