Wednesday, 10 February 2016

What Makes Me, Me - Jo

JoWhen Jess first asked us to write this introductory post, my mind went blank. If I had to write about Who Am I, it would have been much easier. I could talk about how I’m devoted to my friends and family; how I don’t take myself too seriously and will happily make a fool of myself for a laugh; how I am the kind of person who finds the most ridiculous, unfunny jokes absolutely hilarious; how I’m an avid reader of YA and fantasy; how I’m a writer, a dreamer, an optimist who is always full of hope. But that’s all kind of surface stuff, and doesn’t go very deep. What Makes Me, Me, though - that digs a whole lot deeper.

If you were to look at me, you would see a young redhead, probably in her late teens, who is very slim. You would probably make some unconscious judgements on me based on my slim frame. Like others, you might think I’m anorexic, or that I’m obsessed with being skinny and on some ridiculous diet.

What you actually see? A 28-year-old woman who constantly has people think she’s much younger, who talk to her as if she is such. A woman who has been on the receiving end of catcalls and abuse as she walks down the street, simply for having ginger hair. A woman who has a high metabolism, who has always struggled to put on weight. A woman who has spent most of her teenage life hating her body for not being the type of body society deems attractive. A woman who has had more people than she could possibly count tell her she needs to put on more weight, eat more, or say to their friend, “She’s so skinny!” with looks of disgust on their face. A woman who struggled (and to a certain extent still does) to find the clothes she likes in sizes that fit her frame and flattered her figure. Who spent so many years not feeling good enough.

I’m now a woman who has come through the other side to not just accept my body, but to love it, and feel completely happy with how I look; my hair colour, my size, and my face, despite how young it looks. I’m not yet completely self-confident, but with the self-love came a fire in my belly. I’m no longer the person who lets comments about the way I look slide by.

I am a woman from a supportive, loving, loyal and close extended family. There are several family members I count as friends. We are a family who doesn’t argue at Christmas, but share a day of love and laughter. I am from a family who has had some hard knocks over recent years. I am a woman who has seen her Grandma – who will turn 90 this May – spiral down as her dementia took over; at first being told she was no longer able to take care of herself, to eventually being told we were no longer able to look after her, and having to see her go into a home.

I am a woman who was extremely close to her Nan, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2013; a Nan who was told she had beat it and was in remission in May 2014, only to be told a few weeks later the cancer had actually spread to her brain, and she had six months left to live; a Nan who fought on for nine months, to lose her battle in April 2015. I am a woman who has suffered a huge loss, a loss that has left a gaping hole in my life, a loss that has been so very hard to move on from.

I have been the misfit, the outcast. The girl who did her homework, listened in class, got good grades, who didn’t swear, and did as she was told. I was the girl who listened to the wrong music, and wore the wrong clothes. The girl who didn’t smoke or do drugs. The girl who didn’t have a boyfriend and wasn’t having sex. The girl no guy fancied, anyway. I didn’t fit in, and wasn’t wanted by my class mates.

But I was – and am – a girl who took pride in being true to herself. I am a woman who is passionate about the things she loves, and won’t hide her excitement. A woman who sticks by her moral beliefs. A woman who never fakes it. A woman you will never see in any designer brands, but loves the clothes she wears. A woman who puts in the work, and dances to the music she loves. A woman who won’t tolerate any “friend” who will put her down. I’m proud of who I am.

As most women have, I have been hurt by guys, in a number of ways. When I was 12, I was sexually assaulted on the way home from school. When I was in Years 10 and 11, I was mildly bullied by the most popular guy in the class, because I wasn’t the type of girl he fancied. When I was 20, the guy I thought I was in love with tried to bullshit me into bed with lies and promises, only to tell me he wasn’t really interested when he didn’t get what he wanted; he just wanted to get his leg over.

The woman I am now is no longer a walkover. I demand respect, and will not take things lightly if I feel I’ve been mistreated. I do not stand for lies. But I’m also a woman with trust issues, who finds it incredibly difficult to let guys in, scared of being hurt again.

I am a woman who fell in love with the most amazing guy - a guy who didn’t love her back. I’m a woman who has learnt what it truly means to love someone, to love unselfishly; to want happiness for another, when it won’t lead to your own; to be genuinely glad for someone, even if it also hurts.

That guy became my best friend, and has shown me what true friendship is. Who helped me to become open and honest about my fears and my sorrow as much as with my happiness and excitement. Who forgives me for my mistakes, and doesn’t let obstacles – like silly little things like falling in love with him – get in the way of our friendship. Who has helped me through the hard times, believing I was strong enough to get through it. Who is genuinely interested in all I have to say and really listens. Who has encouraged me and supported me whenever I’ve doubted myself – including when I was worrying about writing this post. Who offers his friendship without judgement.

These are the experiences that have made me the woman I am today.

This is what makes me, me.

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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.