Tuesday, November 17, 2009

School of Thought: Be Real

Not Me.

It's freeing to let it all hang out. An advantage of turning sixty is that I've almost accepted myself. I'm not so embarrassed to be me.

When I was a little girl I was little. My friends wore sizes 8 or 10 and I was still in a 6X. The 6X dresses had puffy sleeves and sashes that tied in the back, and I remember Karen and Jill making fun of my baby dress. I also wore red and white checkered reading glasses in 2nd grade. I stood out. It was humiliating, and already I felt the sting of self-consciousness. When we were 11, the friends got training bras. I still looked like a 5-year-old boy, but Mom realized how miserable I was and got me one, too. I stuffed it with kleenex and looked lumpy and lopsided. I was doomed to geekdom.

Junior High was miserable. I was too shy to tell my teachers my nickname and so I was called by my very old-fashioned real name. There wasn't anything cool about me. In 9th grade I took up swearing, hoping it would earn me some respect among the popular crowd. Nobody noticed except my brother, who told my dad, who was not impressed.

It took me decades to get beyond the Jr. High mentality. I thought I had to be accepted by everybody else to be acceptable. The huge secret I discovered was that once I had accepted myself, I became acceptable.

Whether I'm called Ma'am, or Miss, Mom or Oma, I know who I am. My age and rank don't matter. I can develop at my own pace; I don't need kleenex, or fame or fortune to pad the reality. I can decide what words represent the real me and I don't need to parrot others to be "in." It's been freeing to let myself go, and find out where I'm going.

I wish I could find some red and white checkered reading glasses; I wouldn't mind standing out now. I still envy girls who wear a size 8 or 10. I'm not a 6X anymore but, of course, you can see that for yourself. I'm letting it all hang out!

How do you find the real you? I'm like an overstuffed, jumbled up scrapbook drawer, crammed with images, photos, memories and scribbled messages. Until I dump it all out somewhere, I can't see what's in there. As I sift through, random bits and pieces fit together and the dust settles in my blog.

We have all collected wisdom throughout our lives and we can gain access to it through the act of writing. Cicero said, "Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself."

Homework: Do any or all, or be inspired. (If your real life is too real right now, be your own private tutor and do an assignment in your head.)

~Search through the drawer in your heart. Are there memories that shaped your self image? Write about a time when your feelings were hurt. Why do you think you still remember the incident? How does that help you understand yourself better?

~Describe yourself from a friend's point of view. Does she know the real you? Do you want her to?

~As a trusted mentor, write a letter advising yourself what to do about a current situation in your life. Prompt: "Dear Friend, I know you're worried about ____. Knowing you like I do, I'm sure you feel____, but I trust your instincts. You seem so____."

"At 20, we worry about what others think of us;
at 40, we don't care what they think of us;
at 60, we discover they haven't been thinking of us at all."
—Bob Hope


*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, link it back to TravelinOma. And please leave a comment here with a link to your blog as part of our class discussion. I'll be keeping track, and spot checking your work, giving points for participation. You can grade your own work, based on your individual progress. (A for Accomplishment, B for Basic Effort, C for Class Comments, D for thinking this post is Dumb, and F for Failure to Communicate.)

53 comments:

Queen Scarlett said...

I'll be working on this tomorrow... along with my YW lesson on Self-Mastery...hmmm...

Reading your experience... reminds me of mine. It is so satisfying to struggle in our youth so that we appreciate who we are.

It is true - I am an add'l witness...when we accept who we are - others will too. That's the secret. It begins with us!

LOVE your blog. So grateful I found you.

Audra said...

Hi Oma! I discovered your blog through my friend Jessica's blog (A Few Good Things)(I'm not sure how to hyperlink in the comments part). I'm going to join in as much as I can!

While I was doing this assignment I realized that way too often do I ask others questions that I already have the answers to because I do not trust who I am and what I know. It was great to rack my brain for some much needed advice for myself.

I look forward to more great topics!

Here's my assignment: http://ericknaud.blogspot.com/2009/09/homework-dear-friend.html

Clair said...

This one really hits home for me. Something I have been living with most of my life.

Well be thinking about this today.

ELLOUISESTORY said...

Love the picture! Good, thought provoking questions.

ELLOUISESTORY said...

Love the picture! Good, thought provoking questions.

Alana said...

Oma, this is great! These assignments have all been such a distraction from some major stressors. I don't even cringe when my toddler gets up at 6 every morning like I used to. I'm just excited to go check your blog and see what kind of free therapy I will receive today. I loved reading this post. And I laughed so hard when I saw the photo! It fits all too well with my post today.
The Darndest Thing.

kenju said...

You reminded me of a book title that I quote all too often...
"Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?"

The answer is..."Because you may not like me."

Lee said...

Funny how this assignment came today, it's my birthday and on my blog is a list to my younger self. Very much in keeping with the assignment.

LOVE the photo :)

http://l2l-lemons2lemonade.blogspot.com/2009/09/list-for-my-younger-self.html

Jessica said...

Hmm.. do we ever really feel comfortable in our own skins? Everytime I think I've mastered a stage or finally learned all the parts I'm supposed to be playing, I turn around and there is something more to fit myself into. It is disjointing. I find myself trying to be like the other young mommas, but that doesn't quite work as I'm.. just me. Disjointed, happy me!

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

Good one. Cathartic to write.

Link to Assignment 5

Soul-Fusion said...

love this one - I think the other thing about getting older is you learn to accept the disparate parts of yourself and understand their interesections more. I'll be thinking about this topic for a while and hopefully I'll find the time to write on it.

gab said...

I'm an Oma-school dropout...already behind on assignments. But this is good reading!

Sarah N said...

well, i went a little around the prompt....but it still got me writing. e for effort?

http://talesofahummingbird.blogspot.com/2009/09/homework.html

Jolyn said...

loved this ...wish i was as self confident as you....how come mom bough YOU a training bra? i begged and begged...

Rowboat said...

this assignment does remind me of therapy...and i love it. i hope that i can look forward to feeling comfortable with myself. i've always thought that there are just people who accept themselves and there are people who don't. now i'm thinking that it is a process to grow into.
i loved this post.

Diane L said...

Ooh, you're making us dig deep here. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect.
Assignment 5

crissy said...

It's really really long, but this is what I came up with for my assignment today.

Heffalump said...

I am doing this assignment in my head. Thinking about it though, really made me think about how much the things we say to our kids or that other people say to our kids, effects their outlook on themselves. I have confidence issues about many things because of family teasing from when I was a child, and even though they all thought it was teasing and that I should get over it, it became ingrained in my view of myself, and I just can't seem to shake it.
This has made me want to be more aware of things I say to my kids, and that I should be praising, and focusing on their positives so that they can be confident as they get older.

Marissa Marie said...

Here's my assignment.

http://happyhyperbole.blogspot.com/2009/09/that-hurt-my-feelings.html

Kiasa said...

Done! I'm chosen to not post it on my blog for now, for privacy. I may edit and/or add it soon.

KJ said...

http://sassypiggy.blogspot.com/2009/09/writing-assignment-be-real.html

striking a cord for sure.

Sassy Lewis said...

Okay, here it is. Took me back to the days!

http://lewisdudes.blogspot.com/2009/09/week-1-assignment-5_04.html

diane said...

I'm pretty much an open book. I thrive on being honest and real sometimes to the horror of my family.

I want to thank you for doing this course. It gives me something to keep my brain focused on, something to look forward to and something to help me stretch and grow. Being house bound this is so important. You are changing lives.

CAT said...

Oma,

I loved this assignment, I agree with the others that it was very thought provoking. Here is my finished product. Can't wait for next week's assignments! Thank you, thank you!

http://lucyloutoo.blogspot.com/2009/09/who-i-was-always-meant-to-be.html

Allison said...

That wasn't exactly easy...but surprisingly I feel better after writing.

link

smeagher said...

When I sat down and started writing a letter to myself, I realized that I know exactly what steps I need to take in my future, but it's the following through and actually doing them that is difficult. Have a great weekend!

Sara's assignment: here 

audrey said...

I just love waiting for each day's assignment. Thank you for this. What a wonderful gift of your time and thoughts!

Here you go.

{jordan} said...

This assignment was good- but I felt it needed to be private, so I wrote it in my journal. Maybe when things are right in my life, I'll publish it openly, but for now it is nestled in between pages of my life. I'm so glad that Hannah at Sherbet Blossom posted about this on her blog- I never would have known about you- thanks for the great lessons!

Tiffany said...

A few thoughts:

1. Great photo.
2. I love Travlin' Oma's school!
3. Are you really my fairy godmother? How come everything feels so spot-on directed at me?

I learned to be my own best friend many, many years ago. I didn't realize the value of it at the time--I just didn't have any other friends! However, what I struggle with now is showing the real me--all of the real me--to the friends I do have now. You've really got me thinking!

middleofthetable said...

this was my favorite assignment to write.

thank you for making me think about my life in this way. i loved this assignment.

Diane said...

Thanks for the assignment. Very thought-provoking.

Here's my response: http://pleasesaysomethingremotelyintelligent.blogspot.com/2009/09/gravity_05.html

Thanks!

Polly said...

I haven't joined school yet, but am loving reading about the assignments. This one is really good and got me thinking, since I talk to you everyday I won't make you read what I wrote.

diane said...

Happy Birthday!

We are both September girls. Must be why I like you so much.

the wrath of khandrea said...

hey... i just saw the link gab posted to this project. i just started back to full time teaching and am fairly overwhelmed by the chaos that is my life right now. there is no way i can do this, but i am going to keep reading, and maybe i can sneak in one or two assignments. i am so bummed this didn't come along last year! a very clever idea, but then i would expect no less from you and yours.

Miranda said...

Here I am catching up on all the week's homework in one day. Typical. I'm excited about this assignment though. I often find myself struggling with my identity...I think I get lost when I'm trying to emulate someone I look up to and suddenly begin trying to BE them.

Quelly said...

Happy birthday Marty!

Sheri said...

Happy Birthday dear Marty. . .
Happy Birthday to you!

My oh my, dear girl, you've gained quite the following since I've been away. You go girl.

As per usual, love the wisdom.
Sheri

~Kristina said...

Happy Birthday! Be it late, but it still is. I hope it was divine.

As with the greetings, so is my entry for this class. Thank you for pulling out what I have held heavy in my heart especially over the last week.

http://tinastree.blogspot.com/2009/09/school-of-thought-be-real.html

Mrs. Organic said...

I did this one twice - once on my blog and once in my head.

I still remember something said to me as a 12 year old, and I wonder which came first...the zinger or the reality?

The picture is priceless!

marta said...

p.s. mom, i hope you'll post something fun about your big birthday.. i keep clicking over here and those cheeks just don't quit. please update soon.

Lauren in GA said...

I am over from Gabi's blog...I wanted to wish you a Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday. I love all of the things that Gabi says about you. What an amazing mother you are.

~j. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~j. said...

This one was tough, but I'm glad to have it out there. Thank you.

Kiasa said...

just posted it. it's hard to say what's inside, show what is considered a possible weakness, and have it all hang out.

Kiasa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LuciMama said...

I'm starting your assignments today. Thanks for the inspiration! Feel free to read (and comment, if you choose) at http://joys.vox.com/

dalene said...

here's mine.

Queen Scarlett said...

This was hard/scary... took me a few days to finally write it down.
Gulp, here it is

Misty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misty said...

Woops.

Finished. Cheating? Maybe.

Mickelmonkey Mama said...

Assignment complete.
A bit late, I know, but it's done!

Beck said...

Sorry this is so late. Went out of town for a while and am just now catching up on things!

Thanks for all your feedback. It really means a lot.

debby said...

here is my assignment:

a false sense of security