10: Be You!

Uh.. yes, that's me. Names removed to protect the guilty.

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

[In celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 208th birthday… we pledge to write... #Trust30.]

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?

(Author: Eric Handler)
My advice: BE YOU! I could get political or force a cause for which I am passionate (Ahem! Global warming.) down your throats; but, I’m convinced the world would be a better place were we all predisposed to BE OURSELVES without absorbing the negative influences others have on our personalities.

I adopted a motto in high school… immortalizing it in my twelfth grade yearbook (see photo):

“My job is not to impress people, it’s to intrigue them.”

In seventh grade I began attending Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kijabe, Kenya, by my own choice. I had other options but I wanted to attend RVA. That year my brother was a senior and his athletic, very good looking presence made me one of the more popular junior high students. That ended with his graduation.

Things changed once he was gone. Teasing about my size began. I was small. Very small. The quintessential tomboy, I also didn’t give much thought to clothes, hair or make-up. I spent two rather miserable years during eighth and ninth grade. I took solace in the confidence and instruction of one very influential teacher and sports. I played junior high basketball (my weakest sport) and junior varsity field hockey my ninth grade year; but, then… I earned my varsity letter in track … as a freshman (Which, I just realized for the first time, isn’t mentioned in my yearbook photo. HA! Varsity Track 9, 11, 12.). Apparently that prestige meant something and just before the end of that year being in my presence was no longer taboo… and I hated it. I wanted to be liked for me. In truth, to this day I really have no idea why I was so disliked those years. It doesn’t really matter now.

The following year, in tenth grade, we were located in the States and I was away from boarding school for one year. I chose to not play sports that year, despite being asked, and I think my body took a breather. It decided to grow. I had just passed five foot at the end of the prior school year. Ten months later I was five foot six inches. I began to care more about my appearance. With the new body came a better wardrobe, make-up and a rather glorious mane of hair.

I returned to Rift Valley Academy to visit at the end of my classmates 10th grade year since the USA school year ended earlier. It was a Saturday and there was a rugby tournament. I wanted to mingle and visit. I found myself introducing myself to astonished faces. People I had known for years didn’t recognize me. Again I found a semblance of “popularity” and again I despised it for what it was. I made two pledges to myself that day for when my junior year began in September:

1) I would never treat anyone as I had been treated during those eight and ninth grade years.

2) I would be me. Only me. I wouldn’t accept popularity simply because I was more cute or prettier. I would do what I could to befriend everyone.

That’s when I coined my motto and tried to live as such. And, my final two years of high school were amazing. I know, we aren’t supposed to like high school, but I did. At least… my junior and senior years. My commitment to being me didn’t work for everyone. There were those who didn’t like me for it and I chose not to care. After all, I wasn’t there to make a good impression.

It worked for me.
It can work for you.


  1. I love this post :)
    I was never popular in Public School (and my private school had 15 students). However, I was tough enough to keep from being picked on much. I would like to think I left that part of my life behind me, but after reading your post I realized I may not have. I still get angry and confrontational when I feel someone is trying to take advantage of me.

  2. Oh Beth. How do you know what it is I need to hear and when? I was teased and bullied mercilessly as a kid when I first moved from Nigeria to the UK. It was difficult and although the bullying switched to less apparent forms as I got older, it was certainly still there and as a result, I tried to mould myself into someone who could fit into what was "required" of these girls.

    So glad I have left all that behind now.


  3. I think that junior high & early high school is absolutely the worst time in life for girls. Not only are we at our absolute gawkiest, but girls are the meanest, nastiest things on the planet. I, too, was bullied. I was such a tomboy growing up. I moved from Arizona, where I was accepted as an athlete, and there was a mix of kids, to a well-to-do area of Denver. Appearance was everything, and a tomboy like me was sunk. It wasn't until my junior year, when I started to blossom a bit, that I found my niche.

    I applaud you for your motto. It's something I have tried hard to instill in my daughter.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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