I don’t like to be accused of doing something I didn’t do. As a child I prided myself on being a good kid. I wanted to be the best good kid I could possibly be, so when someone didn’t believe I was good it would break my heart.
The stick incident happened when I was in the 5th grade. I was in class after recess and the teacher from the neighboring classroom came in to talk with my teacher about something that looked serious. They both look at me and my teacher agreed to something related to me. The other teacher asked me to come with him so he could have a talk with me. When I came outside there was a boy from a grade under me that I recognized but I didn’t know well. What happened was is someone threw a stick at him really hard and he was convinced it was me. The teacher tried to get me to admit that I did it… but I didn’t do it. The pressure, despite how calm the teacher was, was intense. He asked, “if you didn’t do it then why did you run away?” I thought about recess and remembered that I was playing tag with some friends. The kid must have saw me running and instantly thought it was me. I explained this and as I was talking the tears began to flow.
The teacher had no way of knowing how important being “good” was to me… he was questioning the one thing that was most important to me. Eventually he gave up when he saw how upset I was. He walked me back to class and my teacher came out to meet us outside. She knew me well enough to know that there was no way that I did it. Whatever she said to him convinced him that it wasn’t me.
This shook me up for quite sometime after that. How could someone question my goodness? How could someone think that I would do something so mean?
Thinking back on this I find it interesting that I wanted to hold onto this image of myself of how I wanted to be perceived by others. It was so important that people saw me as good.
I wonder if I felt that was why people loved me. As long as I was “good” in their eyes they would care about me. What a burden for a child to have. And when I would do something “wrong” I felt like I let everyone down.
There was one other incident that same school year where I couldn’t finish my homework. I always turned my homework completed and on time but for whatever reason I wasn’t able to do it that day. As I was telling my teach that I didn’t have my homework, the disappointment I saw in her eyes crushed me and I began to sob. The reality that I had created in my mind that I was loved for what I do crushed my heart that day.
The takeaway I have today from this is don’t assume that the people who care about you love you for what you do, they love you for who you are. They see more of you than you realize and they love you despite that and because of that. They love you. So when you mess up, know that you are loved and you aren’t less of a person when you fail to live up to those unreal expectations that you place on yourself.