I’ve said that I was a shy awkward teenager. I was also clumsy, not coordinated and had zilch ability to laugh at myself or my problems.
But in high school I began working against the war in Viet Nam and immediately found a boyfriend. My freshman year in college I felt like a kid in a candy store with an unlimited supply of candies (boys). It felt weird and undeserved.
I didn’t think that I was pretty but I was. My looks paved the way and opened doors that should have been closed as I had no personality I was willing to share with the world. I hated myself.
I could pick out and explain everything that was wrong with me in minute detail. I didn’t understand why people wanted to know me or sought me out. I thought that they were confusing me with some other better girl. One who had worn Villager clothes and Capezio shoes in Junior High; one who had good legs rather than breasts and a waist. I hated having an hour glass figure in the time of Twiggy–long lanky no waist no breasts.
I thought that there was only one type of pretty and that looks were all that counted–well, wit and a good personality too, but since I didn’t have any of that…
I didn’t realize that people liked nice girls with good manners, and that I had a subtle or not so subtle wit and personality. When I had been nominated for a senior class “best” in high school, I thought that I was the joke candidate. I wasn’t and lost by three votes but didn’t really believe that.
My poor parents. They did everything and more to make me believe in myself and nothing worked.
I’ve always blessed the hippie era and its allowing strange people to take center stage for everything good that happened to me.
Cheerleaders hated me; and one tried to get me expelled from school freshman year as we were roommates and she was ashamed of that.
I couldn’t wear my hair in a sleek style because I had no ability to keep my hair from frizzing. I hated my legs so I would never wear a mini skirt.
It turned out that the cheerleader was jealous of all the attention I got. Even her boyfriend liked me. Though I would have been the first to tell him that I wasn’t worth it.
I never had a “eureka” moment where I realized how great I was. I still backslide at times. On women like me it comes out as being rude and stand-offish. It came out that way in high school when my mother would tell me that she knew for a fact certain boys had a crush on me.
She wouldn’t give their names so I thought that she was just being a loyal mother. Turned out that she was right.
My other best friend besides Lucia, Rafael, a straight male hair stylist told me last name that I’m “hard,’ as in the hardest women he’s ever met to get to really know, to ask out, or to sleep with. He’s married and I would die before I slept with him. But he said that he wasn’t referring to himself.
I wish I had learned back in high school and college it’s not all about looks and that ones personality and persona could be quirky and sort of early Goldie Hawn ditsy and people will love her anyway.
But when you’re in junior high and the teachers tell the kids through example that it’s okay to pick on you and make fun of you, it’s easy to lose the path to happiness and self confidence.
I would listen to Murray the K, a New York disc jockey legend, and try to learn about music and everything else through his words. He seemed to know everything in the world. He gave me hope and made me happy several hours a night, and all night Saturday when I would make my little sister stay in her room, make tons of perked coffee and dance in the living room. Murray the K played golden oldies on Saturday nights then and I learned all about the music from the ’50’s and early ’60’s. I was convinced that the key to life was contained in at least one of those songs.
(Our parents would go out every Saturday until the wee Sunday morning hours, when I would run into bed and pretend that I had been asleep. I couldn’t sleep anyway when they were out. Though they didn’t really drink, and I knew that my father became more awake the later the hour, I was always afraid that somebody would hit their car and that they would die.)
I wish that I had understood how much I was loved. Not just by my parents but my first husband and others. I wish that I wasn’t constantly second guessing myself. I come off assured now and in control, but I’m not. I’m really not!
Only recently have I started to become truly happy with me. I wish that it hadn’t taken me 50 years to get to this place. I wish that I had known how good I was when I was younger. I wish I had the confidence I see in most 20 somethings. They feel entitled. I never did. Feeling entitled isn’t such a bad thing.!
But I know many beautiful teenage girls who share the lack of confidence that I had. Little Luce is stunning. 5’9” perfect figure, sharpest wit in the ninth grades, a brainiac who procrastinates. Everybody remarks on her beauty; all eyes turn when she walks down a street.
She does what I did: Puts on a street face and look that makes her look ugly. She has to do this; it’s called street smarts. I hope that one day this won’t be her natural face as it became mine for too long.
Though once I reached college I was a jumble of varied emotions. But I spent most of my time smiling as life was happening to me and I loved it.
Couldn’t understand that I deserved it; couldn’t make things happen to me but allowed life to take over and just happen. I wasn’t proactive.
In retrospect that’s simplistic. I achieved much, and was responsible for much of the good and the bad. But I didn’t realize it then.
I’m writing a novel about something that happened in my late 20’s but I keep on coming back to this subject. I seem to be an eternal teenager; and I still believe that I can find the meaning to life through music lyrics. And I’m very happy to have reached a place in my life where I can look back without anger–just some residual sadness, and much joy.