I had an epiphany today. It occurred to me as I was once again working in a new school where I did not know a soul (subbing again), and I was headed into their lunchroom of co-workers, old pals, and hidden flames unsure of where to sit and what to say. The epiphany occurred the second I left that overwhelming room of people I didn’t know, and slipped into a nearby washroom. I instantly felt relieved (no pun intended). I wished I could stay there all lunch hour in my own quiet solitude, but the few short minutes I could stay would have to suffice.
When that feeling of safety came back while in the washroom today, I thought about what would have been the first time that this place of function versus comfort became a sort of haven for me. I think it must have been in my first year of High School, and subsequently the time of my first real feelings of insecurity. I had been homeschooled for my entire elementary school career, and for one reason or another in Grade 9 my family decided to put all of us kids back into the public school system. Thus I was thrust into the great wilderness that is High School completely unawares, and more importantly, completely alone. The story ended happily. I made some incredible friends, and found my own scholarly niche amongst the masses. However, during that first year, many of my lunch hours were spent in the furthest stall in the most remote bathroom of the school. It was the perfect set up, because every other person who came to the washroom also left within five minutes, so none of those people knew that I had been sitting in there – fully clothed, I may add – for the past twenty minutes eating (yes, eating) my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and avoiding the intimidating groups of chummy people who knew where and who their place was with.
Spending my lunch hours in that bathroom stall was definitely a low in my social career. After a few weeks, I discovered the library - the only other place in the school where you can be alone and no one second guesses why. This second discovery was probably a huge part of the reason that I did win the highest overall average of the year for my grade every year in High School. It was enough for me in grade nine to be seen as “that really smart girl”, as long as I wasn’t “that really smart girl who has no friends”.
Perhaps what I am trying to say is that those insecurities from our past travel with us to our present. They make us who we are in a sense, but it is how we overcome these insecurities that defines our character. I do not think it is wrong to keep a security blanket around for the odd bout of insecurity (even if this security blanket happens to be a tiny four walled chamber of necessity), but sometimes, like today, we need to act the grown up that we now are and create a new name for ourselves; and maybe this time I will be classified under a stereotype that is more diverse than “that really smart girl”.