Updated: Oct 21, 2020
A picture is much more than capturing an image; it is capable of freezing a moment. It is like a time machine. More than just being able to recognize confidence in my eyes, I can also recollect the feelings and some of the thoughts I had that day.
God knows how much I waited for that day. School picture day! I made sure my mom got my hair fixed in a pony tail. Somehow, I even managed to get some lipstick on. I was so excited I could barely fit it all inside of me. I couldn't wait to stand in line for my turn. While watching the kids from other grades take their pictures, I kept telling myself that this time I would have a great picture to look at. The professional lights and the beautiful, colorful background (in addition to the pirate looking pinkish bib with a bow on it) were certainly going to help to make me look so great. And in my opinion, it did.
The day I laid my hands on that picture was a happy day. Well, the chubby cheeks were still evident, but in the image, I saw the look of confidence on my face for the first time. And that's how I felt that day. It was a rare moment, so I decided I wanted to keep that picture forever to remember that I could be confident regardless of how many mean things were said to me.
“I don't want to play with you. You are fat!
That is what a boy replied after I told him he was welcome to sit with me on the grass under the shade of a beautiful tree during recess. He then stormed off. Feeling a humiliating heat coming from my guts slowly moving up toward my head, I could sense the redness taking over my face. Without saying a word in return, I managed to open my lunch box and eat by myself once again. It's too bad he doesn’t want to play with me just because I am fat. I could be a great friend. He is the one missing out, I thought while eating my snack and watching him move further away as he walked confidently toward the more acceptable looking kids.
After finishing my snack, I went to play by myself at the top of a log. I was standing and balancing, feeling very proud of myself until I fell and hit my leg. There were some other kids around and I was glad nobody laughed. The pain was intense. It was stinging so bad, but nobody cared to come and check on me. So, I grabbed my lunch box and headed back to the building feeling terrible about myself. I felt stupid.
Well, I already was used to the idea of being stupid, but it wasn't often that I actually felt like it. I had trouble paying attention and listening to what the teachers had to say, so when it was time to get the work done, I just used my imagination and creativity. It turns out that doesn't count.
During first grade in a Catholic school, the teacher was going through the alphabet as we wrote down the letters. It was time to write down the letter E, so papers were handed out. However, I messed up the line that goes in between the other two. It wasn't centered! Since I had no way of fixing it, I went ahead and made another line and connected them both. I was proud of myself; I was a problem solver! However, to the teacher, that was an unacceptable mistake. Consequently, I was yelled at in front of all my classmates.
That was the second time I recall feeling stupid. The first time was when I was told I would have to repeat kindergarten! I mean, how stupid do I have to be to have to repeat the grade before real school starts?! I thought. All I do here is cut paper, arts and crafts . . . and apparently, I'm not even good at that!
The saddest part to me now as an adult is to remember how the teachers I had in first, second, and third grades in private Christian schools (where teachers had way more resources and larger paychecks than the ones in the public system did) had such little patience and how they lacked passion for the important work they did. It also amazes me that they didn’t realize I wasn’t being a stupid child—I was just spending most of my time inside my own head.
And here it is a picture of me just faking a smile. Can you see the difference between this one and the first one? I do. I am not smiling with my eyes!
Lesson learned: No matter what others tell you or how they try to make you feel like, know yourself! When we know who we are, NO ONE can tell us otherwise.