Friday, 28 February 2020

It can be tough being a good kid at school...

A wise man once said,Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.I’d add, this is true for women as well!

I grew up in a family of well-educated parents who wanted their daughter to succeed. She was (and still is) quite good at problem solving and had (still has) a kind heart, if I may say so myself…

My early memories from pre-school are quite happy and up until the age of 7. I think my parents did a good job with installing solid foundations and beliefs about what is right and wrong in the world, as well as what it means to be a decent human being. I got pretty fluent at those from young age!

However, primary school brings mixed feelings and here is why. I was a pretty good learner and all subjects came easy for me. Being naturally inquisitive, and with a good capacity for remembering stuff and connecting between facts, I had no problem grasping any material. However, I had a problem of a different nature…

You see, my mum was a teacher in that same primary school (it being the only school in the village) so every step I made and every breath I took was reported to mum. My teachers would be telling her both the good and the bad news and I would hear all about it later at home, especially if there was any reports of bad news!

I was supposed to be her ideal child, not an embarrassment to her valued reputation, so I’d better behave! Funny how I never heard about the good news (I assume there must have been some good news, right?)… Only recently was I informed and realised how much all my teachers actually loved me, appreciated my talents and capabilities and how much they enjoyed having me as a pupil in their class – better late than never, I suppose!

In my parents’ defence, the dogma of the communist times proclaimed that “a parent must never show affection because this will spoil the child and kissing the child (Oh no, kissing!) is only allowed while the child is asleep!” My educated parents followed this instruction to the T. True, I did feel their love but it was hidden under a veil of mist, in case they spoilt me otherwise… (Hilarious!) Anyway, I learned to be a “good girl” from a very young age because that meant no trouble from my mum, my life would be peaceful because I would be spared the interrogation and all will be fine.

However, being the smartest in the class had its flip side, as you would imagine. I soon started being aware of my less capable friends’ disappointments and pains when they had poor marks in tests while at the same time I had no mistakes and teacher’s smiles. In an attempt to raise their spirits I would talk about my achievement in a derogatory way. I would say that the test did not matter really, that they would do better next time, or that I would probably make mistakes too next time! (Oh, Dear!) Nobody told me then that it was not a good idea to belittle myself so that they would feel less pain and disappointment. This is when and how I started playing small. Over time, I perfected this game and became a real pro at it.

An added ‘annoyance’ at that time was my height! Can you believe it, I was way taller than the tallest boy who was only a midget next to me! As a result, there was a constant flow of name-calling aimed in my direction. This was considered normal back then in communist Bulgaria where nobody had invented or heard of the term ‘bullying’ yet. As it happens, playing small, which had started on an emotional level, soon materialised on a physical level and my back started slouching in attempt to make me ‘smaller’. You see, I wanted to fit in. I desperately wanted to belong…

Long story short, this habit of belittling myself continued uninterrupted for years, probably because I was so very clever at hiding it and it served me well to find new friends and fit in. Before I knew it (and true, I had no idea I was doing myself disservice), I had become a master of suppressing my desires and at the age of 20, I had no desires left!

Yet, this did not matter, I felt quite happy the way I was, not questioning the status quo and just sensibly moving through life caring for others and ignoring myself. As in a dream, I got married and had my two children. You guessed it, I still had no desires of my own. I knew exactly what my son’s dreams were, what my daughter’s dreams were, and, what their father’s ambitions and desires were, with all the details! Their plans and goals were my commands and I did everything in my ability to make these wishes come true! Quite successfully as well (of course!)…



Little did I know what was lurking in the shadows… Little did I know what huge change awaited me around the corner…



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