Good Enough Girl: Finding Myself, As A Teen

I didn’t post yesterday! Shoot! But today’s post is worth the wait and more than makes up for not writing yesterday. Not because it’s awesome writing, although I hope that it’s not too shabby. Rather, today’s post is gold, because I get to respond to my younger self; I found a journal from high school, and I read every entry on Sunday. There aren’t that many entries, and it was a devotional journal, with prompts from church teachings. This fact just highlights the few themes that run through the entries that I wrote from Christmas 1999 through Summer 2003. Over and over, I beg God, pray for, plead for, desire with my entire soul, one thing: calm.

The word I used was “calm.” At age 14, what I wanted most in the world was to feel calm.

I may not have had the words “anxiety disorder,” but I knew what I was missing. I knew that my life was chaos, and that that was not ok. There are very few events mentioned in this journal, so I had to look at dates to think about what may have triggered a series of entries. The specifics that I do mention highlight one more theme, and it’s a theme that breaks my heart. I want to go back in time and hug my teenage self. Who doesn’t, right? But really, this teenage girl needed HUGS.

The entries that mention specific events all refer to tests and/or grades.

I believed that in order to be a Good Enough Girl, I had to have good enough grades, good enough test scores and get in to a good enough college. My father defines “good enough” throughout this entire journal. What my heart longs for is peace and calm. That is clear. It is also clear that I believed that the only way to live a Good life, a Godly life, was to do well in school. Now that I am a parent, I am enraged at the idea that anyone, anywhere has told any child that she must DO something in order to BE good enough.

Of course, he phrased it differently. He’s brilliant with language. But when I wrote in this journal, I begged God to make me better. I begged for discipline. I begged for power over my own emotions and desires. I begged to feel Divine Love, because I spelled out, as a teenager, that my father was the only source of Earthly love that I was likely to find. He taught me that. I know that he had to teach me to mistrust everyone else, because my natural tendency has always been to LOVE. I will bend over backwards to get you to like me. I want everyone, everywhere to be happy. I have always been a smiling, happy person. My father’s negativity appears in my journal. As he became more mentally ill, I took on more of his cynicism.

I’m still processing a lot of this. But I am so proud of my teenage self. She knew what to look for: love, peace and calm. I did her proud. I found that.

Reading Alice Walker poetry at my solo piano recital/high school graduation party.
Reading Alice Walker poetry at my solo piano recital/high school graduation party.

 

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