At that tender age, my problem with the shirt was not the color or the fit or the way it made me look, it was with its message. Heartbreaker. I was ashamed to wear it. My mom probably thought it was cute, but I thought it was horribly embarrassing. I didn’t want people to think I broke hearts. I didn’t even know what a broken heart felt like. But I assumed it didn’t feel good. I felt labeled. And I felt everyone’s eyes on me when I wore it. Even though, I knew they weren’t.
Through the years, I’ve struggled with caring too much about what I perceive other people feel about me. About the way I look or how smart I am or if my outfit is ridiculous or trendy or too trendy or too tight or too loose or if I’m pretty or ugly or fat or thin or if my opinions are well-thought-out and supported with thought and fact and if when I drive, I take the best route to the best location. About my cooking and my singing and my talents and my lack-there-of, and my messes and my cleanliness and my life and my writing and my run-on-sentences and my politics and morals and the way I scrunch my face up in all sorts of ways all the time.
I’ve always wished I could be someone who just doesn't care about what other people think. At all. You know those people. You might be one of them. They're able to make a fool of themselves in front of anyone and they’re honest about everything including struggles and issues and fears and hopes. I want to be like that.
And I’d like to think I’m on my way.
A couple of years ago, I was running on the treadmill at the gym and I was going fast. Really fast. Because it was pre-ipod nano era, I had my walkman sport with the broken armband stashed in the drink compartment on the treadmill and I had the headphones on and the volume cranked up and I was flying. And then, like a slap across the face, I stepped wrong and pulled the walkman out of its compartment with such force that it flew across the room, battery going one way, battery lid going another. It made a loud noise and I almost fell of the treadmill. I was mortified.
This may have happened again not too long ago. And instead of being mortified and turning 18 shades of red, I was calm and collected. And I said to myself “Who seriously cares about what just happened? Nobody. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is clumsy sometimes. Everyone has bad days. Get over yourself and go pick up the pieces.”
So, I continue. Picking up the pieces of a life spent worrying about the wrong things for too long. And I’m putting them back in order. Slowly. But securely. With figurative superglue and rubber cement. And a damn strong vice grip.