Everyone has someone that they need to prove themselves to. If I kept a list, it would encompass the girls who tortured me in high school, one particular Chemistry teacher, those who called me dumb and those who said that I’d never amount to anything, or at least not anything good. It’s not exactly mature, but this drive to show people that they were wrong is a hell of a motivator.
Like everyone who was picked on or made to feel scared, small, powerless, stupid, dorky, fat, ugly, pathetic, alone, etc, when they were small, I’ve kept a fantasy in my head that one day I’d have a moment of ultimate triumph. I’d arrive in a blaze of glory and order all the people who’ve hurt me to bow down before my magnificence. While this comes from a place of “You tried to convince me that I’m nothing, but LOOK AT ME NOW,” it’s built on negativity. It’s revenge-seeking. And that’s not an attitude that feels good to have.
I’ve been super lucky this week to be featured in a magazine. I’ve also started writing a column about my experiences as an Australian in America (you can read this week’s here) for PerthNow, and the response has been HUGE and amazingly positive. That said, when I was pitched the column, I had a lot of worries about writing for a publication that would run in my hometown. Yes, that’s where my dad and my best friends are…but that’s also where the people who were dreadful to me live. What if I still wasn’t good enough? What if, despite how far I’ve come and everything I’ve accomplished in my life, they still looked at me and thought “Yep, she’s garbage”?
What if I proved them right?
But. Because I have an awesome team on my side, and because this isn’t exactly my first time writing words, it’s been wonderful. I am riding high on a magical wave of happiness and good feedback. The amount of attention I’ve gotten has been a little overwhelming, but if I have to be overwhelmed with something, I’m glad it’s support and love.
Which brings me back to proving myself. Here I am, all over my hometown, staring out the pages of a magazine at the teacher who told my mother that I’d probably murder someone someday, at the girls who would call me a slut as I walked past them at lunch or threaten me after school. Here I am, writing about my amazing life, and working towards my triumphal march through the city. I thought this would feel incredible.
And it does. Just not in the way that I thought.
I thought that once I’d crossed some line of success, I’d be a different person. Maybe a better person, or at least a person who’s never been hurt. But I’ve realised that there’s never going to be anything that I can do, earn or achieve that will force me to lay all this painful stuff down. There is no line. What I want can’t be given to me; I have to do it myself.
I’ve been trying to switch my attitude. It’s not easy; I’ll probably always hear criticism louder than praise and be tempted to believe the worst about myself. But it’s not about proving the people who hated or doubted me WRONG anymore. It’s about showing that everyone who believed in me, who knew I could be better and who gave me a chance were RIGHT.
The best revenge isn’t just a well-lived, fabulous life. It’s not wanting or needing to get even anymore because you know–really KNOW–that you’re great, and that everything is alright.
And YOU, my lovely readers, have always bet on me. Thankyou for that. It means so much.